Last Week On The Homestead: A Part-Time Broody Hen, Sunflowers, And A Garden Update!


June 24 - July 1, 2023
Hello!  Happy summer!  Happy fourth to those of you in the U.S.

Last week brought us a lot of rain and, of course, humidity.  Thankfully, nothing like some parts of the U.S. are receiving, but we were grateful to have received it (the rain, not the humidity).  Even though it meant our Saturday craft show was a very wet day.  Our air quality had been quite bad a couple of weeks ago (we had the orange sky and extremely hazy days) but had improved tremendously until this week.  It pretty much stayed in the "unhealthy for those at-risk" category, so not great, but an improvement, nonetheless.

The flowers are blooming, the garden is growing, and so are the weeds!  We are currently harvesting sugar snap peas, lettuces, kale, beet greens, beets, arugula, spinach, broccoli, herbs, radishes, and asparagus.  The first round of jalapeno peppers are just about ready (this will be the earliest we've ever harvested them), as are green beans, cherry tomatoes, zucchini & yellow summer squash.  Our cucumber plants are growing very slowly for some reason, and although we have a lot of tiny bell peppers on the plants, it will be some time before they are big enough to harvest.  The pears are still looking great as are the Asian pears.  

Oh, and the excitement of the week is.....I have 4 sunflower plants!!  Out of the 3 times I've tried to grow them this year (and 4 packs of seeds used up....), these 4 have made it to about a foot tall.  I am hoping (and hoping and hoping) the chipmunks and squirrels leave them alone, but who knows.  I've tried so many different contraptions this year to grow any at all, but those darned critters found a way to get to almost every single one and eat them.  I've always grown sunflowers and never gave it a second thought until 2 years ago when I lost all 35 (yes 35!) that I had started from seed.  First, I lost all of the seeds.  A chipmunk (or two or three) found a few and then discovered that there was an entire row.  They greedily stole them all.  The next batch I covered with shade cloth and secured it to the ground, but once the sunflower plants were a few inches tall those little monsters figured out how to get to the tasty greens and ate every. single.  one.  {sigh...} I had hoped they would leave me one or two but that, apparently, was too much to ask.  So now you know why I am so excited at the prospect of FOUR sunflowers!

One of our older Coop Girls, who has never been broody a day in her life up to this point, is now broody.  Well, actually, she's a part-time broody hen.  Who knew this could be a thing?  She appears all day to be broody, staying in a nesting box, being very possessive of it including puffing up her feathers and growling if you even look at her wrong, yet not laying on a single egg.  Then, in the evening, she retires to the roost, leaving the box behind.  The next morning it all starts again.  I have no idea what she's thinking or why, now that she's 7 or 8 years old, she suddenly has the desire.

Thinking about her reminded me of one of our previous broody hens.  Those of you who have been with me for a while will remember our "little Lizzie".  She was a spitfire.  One of the smallest chickens and a whole lot of attitude, but we loved her.  Some days, when she didn't think I was paying her enough attention, she would fly up onto my arm as I was working.  Of course, I would stop what I was doing and talk to her.  She would also do that if she wanted her own share of the treats I was doling out.  Well, she eventually went broody.  So, Mama Claire (do you remember Mama Claire?  She was the BEST chicken ever!) was broody and I believe sitting on 6 eggs, and little Lizzie took over a nesting box next to Mama Claire.  Lizzie ended up with 4 eggs to sit on.  (We had a rooster - Clyde, so they were fertile)

I tracked when the eggs should be hatching and began checking on them regularly when it was getting close.  Once Mama Claire's eggs were hatching, I was checking constantly.  We were going to move Claire and Lizzie with their chicks into crates inside the coop once they were all hatched, so we were preparing for that.  This ended up being a good thing because who would have known that little Lizzie was not in any way interested in being a mama?  Mama Claire's eggs had all hatched and I was preparing their crate, so I had gone out to the coop.   I suddenly heard Lizzie's trademark growl.  Why would she be growling, I wondered.  I thought maybe one of the other hens was trying to get in her box.  When I entered the coop, I saw a little chick peek its head out from under her and she growled and began attacking the poor thing.  I was shocked and grabbed the chick.  Lizzie continued growling and pecking at anything she could.  Saying she was angry was an understatement.  Clearly, she had no idea this is what would come from sitting on eggs.  Well, we ended up giving all of the chicks to Mama Claire, who already had 6 of her own.  She LOVED being a mama and gratefully accepted them, although there were days the poor girl looked quite overwhelmed.  But she did such a good job.  From then on, when little Lizzie went broody, we gave her fake eggs to sit on.  No more chicks for her!

Speaking of the coop girls, do you remember when I shared about coop girl Dorilla who protects her flock sister Stella at night?  Stella appears to be sensitive to noise and Dorilla tucks Stella under her wing.  Well, the photo above is one I took this past week.  Unfortunately, it is a little hard to see and Stella, curious as to why I was in the coop at night, partly untucked herself to look at me, but you can see sweet Dorilla's wing on Stella's back.  They are always the first 2 to go to bed every night.  

The temps and humidity have been increasing so I've been trying to use mostly the grill, air fryer, and instant pot for cooking.  And with all of our greens, that will likely start bolting soon, we are eating a LOT of salads.  I've been planning to make this recipe for oregano pesto by Healthy Slow Cooking, but I haven't been able to harvest enough oregano yet to make it.  I'll post something when I do to let you know what I thought about it.  Usually, I have too much oregano by this time, but now that I have a recipe that I want to try, it's growing more slowly.  That's how it goes, isn't it?

Here's a quick video of Oliver.  He gets excited after his evening meds and rolls around in his big bed.

Meals for this week:
As a reminder, I cook 2 separate meals because we do eat differently.

My meals:
veg stir-fry with either rice or pasta & air-fryer tofu
raw veggie sandwich with hummus
big salads

Jay's meals:
sweet & spicy smoked chicken thighs with rice and veggies
grilled bbq baby back ribs with baked beans and veggies
grilled steak with homefries and veggies
chicken parm with pasta and veggies
grilled pizza and air fryer chicken wings
grilled honey mustard chicken with skillet potatoes and veggies

I'm hoping your garden is doing amazing, if you are growing one, and wishing you a wonderful week ahead!


  1. Crossing my fingers on your sunflowers!

    1. Thank you!!!! I check them a few times a day. 😁 It looks like there might be a 5th one that is coming back after having been eaten by a greedy chippy!

  2. Maybe your hen is having a chicken menopause? Stranger things have happened..... ;)

  3. (Not sure if this went through before, so forgive any repeat.)

    Oh, how frustrating about the sunflowers! So far, we have several coming up in the garden, in the walkways and in the compost pile! I hope you get some to save for seed for next year, if nothing else.

    Sounds like your garden is rockin'! It's amazing to me that you could be harvesting broccoli at this time of year. I will be working on starting some fall crops soon. I got no broccoli or cabbage at all this spring.

    That sweet pair of chooks. I wish my girls were as nice to each other. It bothers me how mean they can be to each other. Glad there is peace in your chicken coop!

    Enjoy your week and any rain you may be granted. Blessings...daisy

    1. Hi Daisy - it did not go through twice. 😊 Usually my garden does really well until the middle of summer. By then all of the diseases/pests/etc are in full swing and it all goes downhill. The reason why winter squash and melons do not fair well for me. I would like to figure out how to avoid at least some of it. Perhaps someday I will have the time to research and try new things!

      I agree about the chickens. It's tough to see when they go at each other. Have a wonderful week!

  4. Keeping chickens is quite the adventure, isn't it?! When the last chick newly hatched this year, I saw mama hen step on it several times, and the other chicks peck at it. I tucked it back under her, and hoped for the best, and now I can't tell who it is. So glad for that happy ending.

    I'm sorry about your sunflowers, and understand your excitement on the four you have. The deer have been nibbling on mine this year... always something. Your garden is ahead of ours, as it was wet so long here, and we planted late. It will be a while before we get peppers, squash and tomatoes. Thanks for the reminder to use hummus in sandwiches. Yummy!

    1. It is indeed an adventure! happy your chicken mama accepted all of her chicks. And as far as gardening, it is always something indeed. Wishing you a wonderful week Laurie!

  5. Sunflowers are such great flowers and pests can be very annoying when they come in over night and destroy your joy. Have you seen Elise Joy [IG] doing her flower art book with the flowers she has grown. I'm pretty sure you follow her. Have a good week.

    1. I do adore sunflowers. I'm not in IG very often at all but I will have to check that out the next time I am. Thanks Kathy! Wishing you a wonderful week as well.

  6. Oh my, you are harvesting soooo much! I'm late...while I have oodles of herbs, lettuce, and onions, everything else was started a bit later than they should have been. How can it be July already? And yay for sunflowers! They are so pretty, glad you'll have some to enjoy. And I love the picture of snuggling hens. I didn't know they did that until a couple of weeks ago...we lost Ethel (as I've said, I'm running a retirement home for hens), and thinking back, my daughter and I saw Lucy with her wing over Ethel's back one made my heart happy. Take care, get some rest tomorrow...Monday will be here before we know it! Mary

  7. Mary - yes, we call ours a retirement home for hens as well. They gave us eggs, we owe them a happy life until it naturally ends. 😊 I am amazed that it's July already. I know it always goes fast but it seems extra fast this year. I know you are enjoying having the kids home for the summer - hoping you are getting to spend a lot of time together!

    1. I appreciate you sharing that Staci...I take a little teasing because of my "retirement home." You're thoughts are spot on...we welcomed them to our home, they deserve to enjoy as many sunny days as possible as thanks for those wonderful eggs. And yes, with summer jobs I don't get the days with the kids, but there's such laughter in this old house when they're here! Thanks for thinking of me...again, wish you lived next door!

    2. Being neighbors would be great! Happy you are all enjoying the summer!!


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