New beginnings!

The Strawberry and Mulberry trees are producing a lot of fruit.

Several passion fruits are almost ready,

the avocados are starting,

and the papayas.

We’ve picked buckets of gandules. Some we eat, some we sell and the rest get tossed around the yard.

Here’s our harvest this week! The sweet and gold potatoes are from here. The rest was grown by TT at her place.

As goes our Easter tradition, we bought 12 more chicks. They should be laying eggs in a couple months. 

This makes 25 chickens. There has been something trying to get in our coop at night and our next door neighbor caught these pics on their game cam, so far, so good. Nothing since the fox attack last summer.

And finally, the 50+ gallon fish and turtle tank is up and running. A new aquaponics setup is in the planning stages…and Brad’s in on it, so it’s going to be amazing.

 

Thanks for reading and for all your support.

Chicken Little Cocoa

 

 

 

Life (and death) on the Patio

I was really bummed to see this…

While I was wondering what we did wrong, Colt noticed he was still in the tank.  He just molted and was bigger and bluer than before!

During a bug hunt, we found a bunch of passion vine caterpillars


and ladybug larvae.

Before we could get them back to the bug aquarium, the ladybug larvae was eating one of the baby caterpillars. Oops. 

The bigger caterpillars have started turning into chrysalis. Once they become butterflies we will let them go. This way, we still have butterflies but the plants don’t get eaten.

As if we don’t have enough bugs, we bought some praying mantis eggs. They caught us off guard and hatched the next day. Some are in the bug aquarium, some on the aquaponics plants and the rest are in the yard. This picture is only half of them…

Colt saw a wall covered in land snails, ladybug larvae and ladybugs. We couldn’t resist, and took a few home to the bug aquarium. Ladybugs don’t do well in captivity, so we release them too.

We finally learned the name of this fish by posting a video of him on a fish site. A darter fish. It darts around rather than swims and is super aggressive towards the other fish. He is one of my favorites and we have about 5 of them. Click here to see what else we have in our aquaponics tank.

Our new business cards arrived just in time for the plant sale! Thanks to Vanessa at VGSDesigns.com for knocking them out so quickly and doing an awesome job!

The plant sale was a success!! Colt rocked it again. It makes me so proud to watch him in action. Thanks for the support and stay tuned for the next one! We have so many cool things in the works.

Denise and Colt

Pre Spring Planning

We’ve been prepping for spring.

The beds are mulched with leaves and wood chips.

We like weeds around here. They are great greens for the chickens.

Seeds and cuttings are spread around the yard.

The chickens free range around the pond and have eaten anything green. We sowed several types of seeds there and now havesprouts everywhere. Tomatoes, black eyed peas, mung beans, green beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, gandules, false roselle, goji berries, pumpkins, lettuce, kale, herbs, sunflowers…to name a few.

The chickens are confined to their pen so everything can grow. Then we will let them back out occasionally to eat and fertilize.

I lay bags of topsoil in a low lying spot by the shop and they become full of earthworms. Easiest way to raise earthworms.

Our aquaponics setup is still in action. To the right is a seed starting area where we just started 3 different varieties of tomatoes.

We have fun harvesting seeds. It’s a cool way to multiply our supply of plants, and we sell the excess seeds.

I have started working on the PLANTS page to provide info about our plants.

Here are Okinawa Spinach seedlings we started from seed’s we harvested.

We are excited about Uncle Bill the Crayfish.

We had our first plant sale last week! I am proud of Colt. This was a great kick start for Chicken Little Cocoa!

We have already started working hard to get ready for our next one! April 8th! In the meantime, if you come across any pots you do not need, we will take them!!

Stay tuned.

October Blooms

Thankfully, Hurricane Matthew missed us. I did not have to start all over again!

The Pepper Trees fell over in the coop. Most people would have chopped these invasive trees down, but they protect our chickens from the hawks, so we pulled them back up and staked them into place.

It’s a great feeling, going from thinking I was going to lose everything to seeing everything in bloom.

I’ve been planting Cranberry Hibiscus cuttings along the fence. They are in bloom and beautiful! This is a great plant to have around the yard. It can be used in salads, to make tea and the chickens love it.

cranberry-hibiscus-along-fence

Both varieties of sweet potatoes are in bloom. The vines spread fast, the potatoes are edible and our chickens love to eat the leaves. 2-sweet-potatoes-in-bloom

It’s a girl! Meaning this papaya plant is going to bear fruit. I threw a bunch of papaya seeds around the property a few months ago and I’m beginning to see many of them sprouting in random places…

papaya-flower

The Starfruit is once again in bloom!

All 6 cloves of garlic we planted have sprouted. That’s Broad Leaf Thyme on the right and Garlic Chives on the left.

We’ve watched the majority of our tadpoles turn into frogs and go free in the yard. We still have about 25 tadpoles left in the aquarium. We also added some minnows from the pond, 4 goldfish and two baby yellow belly turtles.

tadpoles-and-frog

In addition to our mosquito catching frogs, we bought one of these Mosquito Magnets. It converts propane to CO2 that attracts mosquitoes, then a vacuum sucks them into this handy little carrying case.

mosquito-machine

Every year around this time, a friendly Muscovy duck or two shows up at our pond. Last year it was Ducker, who laid eggs all over our roof. Here are our guests this year.

ducks-eating-from-hand

Thanks for checking in! See you next month.

It’s that time again…

Time to trim back the oak trees again.limbs-back limbs-front

The shop is still full of firewood, so this time, we rented a 12″ wood chipper and mulched it into two 5 foot tall mounds of mulch.

wood-chipper-0916

Wood chips are a valuable resource and we are fortunate to have a constant supply. It is key to improving our soil quality.

I have been wheelbarrowing it out of the coop, into the planters, around the trees and along the fence. It is labor intensive, but once it’s in place, the mulch does all the work. It keeps weeds down, improves the soil, encourages earthworms and beneficial organisms, holds in moisture, adds carbon…all kinds of good stuff.

side-fence-0916

I mulched the plants running along the fence: red hibiscus, sweet potatoes, gandules, papayas, tomatoes, pomegranates, passion fruit vine and Colt’s Poinciana tree.

It is rainy season again too. We had 4.5 inches in one night and 3.5 inches a few days later. The pond overflowed and the field flooded, as it usually does with lots of rain. No worries.

flooded-pond-0916

I like it when the field floods. It’s fun to watch all the birds.
birds-0915We saved these tadpoles from becoming bird snacks.

tadpoles

The tadpoles have joined our mealworm friends on the back patio. When they become frogs, we’ll let them go to eat mosquitoes.

We use the mealworms as lizard and chicken snacks. The lizards are entertaining to watch, and they eat bugs (mosquitoes)…so we bribe them to hang around.

lizard-eating-mealworm

This month, we continue to plant beans…Cow peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, lentils…when gardening, it doesn’t get much easier than cow peas.

These are the Purple Cow Peas I planted 2 months ago, aka Black Eyed Peas.

purple-cow-peas-0916

You can eat the beans whenever! I eat them right out of the pod when green or purple: they’re good on salads.

Or, like Gandules, you can leave the pods on the plant to dry. Dried peas can be cooked or planted.

dried-and-raw-peas

Thanks for checking in!

Chicken Little Cocoa