July is Gone, Flies are Not

From the balcony of this lovely house in town where I’m listening to kids play war from the living room inside, I’m typing away on today’s July blog post. I’m on babysitting duty, because sometimes I’m pretty awesome with kids.

But I need to blog. Not that I have anything particularly interesting to share, but my mind needs to mumble, and typing is the easiest way for me to do that.

Meat Bird Update

We’ve lost three chicks to date, so we’re down to 37. We had some of the hottest July temperatures ever (108 on Tuesday). The Cornish Cross breed is vulnerable in heat anyway. To have those extreme high temperatures was stressful.

We did everything we could: ice cubes in the waterers, fan, soaking a towel and keeping it clipped to the open wall of the chicken tractor, to keep the air inside moist and cool. I wet the ground, I misted the birds, I misted the tarp so it would “rain” inside the tractor. I also prayed for those birds. A lot.

They seem to have fared pretty well, which I’m thankful for. At the start of the week, I moved their chicken tractor to fresh ground. They had been on the original plot for about six days. Today, they’ve been on their plot four days and I can already tell it’s time to move them again.

They’re growing fast, getting messier, and soon enough we’ll be moving two mobile tractors daily. That will keep them on fresh ground, put them to work keeping our cricket population down, and grow them for harvest day in September.

The Other Birds

I just want to document for my own memory’s sake the new roosters have started crowing, and it’s adorable. Their quiet coo-like crows at this stage are akin to a puppy’s bark. It’s cute, it’s pitchy, and it’s a reminder how quickly life takes place for us as well as animals.

The layers have appeared to resume laying in the coop. I did find an egg back in the tree row during the hottest day of July. Not even in a nesting spot, just out in a random clearing. Not that I blame them. If I had to lay an egg and it was that hot, I’d let it fall where it may, too.

Soon enough we’ll start water-glassing the eggs so we can keep up our supply this winter. I assume the three Black Australorps and three Buff Orpingtons will begin laying any day now. However, their eggs will be small for a few weeks. While they may lay daily through the winter, I want to make sure we have a good stock of fresh eggs on hand to begin with before the snow flies.

The guineas, all eight of them, are still alive and still roosting in the coop at night. That is nothing short of a miracle. I think at this point it’s safe to say they’re acclimated to the coop as their home. I am pretty optimistic now they’ll be around next spring/summer and help us keep our tick population under control.

The Garden

I’m just going to tell it like it is: the garden is junk this year. My green bean plants, while they are producing green beans, are also shriveling up at break-neck speed. I don’t know if they are diseased or if the July heat is just too much for them. Every day I got out and find another green bean bush decimated.

The chickens are on a mission to destroy everything. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Tomatoes, peppers, kale, potatoes, raspberries, grape leaves – they’ve eaten it all. They are relentless. If I didn’t rely on them for eggs, I would put them in our freezer in a heartbeat.

We had a spare puppy pen that I turned into a makeshift fence for one of our garden beds. We have chicken wire up around a second, but they’re still getting to things. At some point I’m going to have to give up chasing them out.

All in all, the garden is not productive or plentiful in any sense of the word this year. Sure, it’s our first year growing anything out here, but I can’t help but feel a little sense of failure. One day I was lamenting and felt like the Lord told me gardening was not my primary focus this year. We still have a lot to get situated here, so gardening takes a back seat.

I hope to harvest a few green beans and tomatoes, maybe even a cucumber or two. I won’t know about the potatoes until it comes time to dig them up if they actually produced or not. Otherwise, though, our produce will come from the produce stand in town, or the Farmer’s Market. My 2021 canning season won’t consist of produce we’ve grown ourselves. I have a feeling next year will be an altogether different story, however.

The Plauge

The most distressing event of the week, on top of the insanely high July temps, was the plague. Every north-facing wall on our property was unrecognizable. The shop, chicken coop, garage, house, even the chicken tractor – C O V E R E D. Piles of black dots lining every surface, we had a plague of flies.

They sought any and all shade they could, but also made it almost impossible for us to enter or exit our house. They coated the doors, the walls, the sidewalk.

Thousands. Hundreds of thousands of flies – everywhere. It was so disgusting, so disturbing, and so annoying. We have chickens, which I’m sure attract some flies. But we’re also surrounded by cows, which attract a lot more than our chickens would. There’s also no shade in the pasture, which is why they congregated on our building structures.

If I never saw another fly in my life, I’d be okay with that. What we dealt with this week was old testament magnitude, and I don’t know how Pharaoh could have been so dense. Ten plagues of filth, gross, and death before he finally let Moses take his people. It was two days of flies-in-July and I was ready to leave.

Get it together, Pharaoh.

Upcoming

As hard as it is to fathom this, school starts in less than three weeks. I had plans of spending July getting our homeschool year in order and prepared to start. Here we are with the month all but over, and I’ve done no such thing.

Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to get to it next week, but time will tell. There’s nothing like starting the homeschool year completely prepared. I know any effort I put in to it now will be well worth it in two weeks (and beyond).

We also have roasts I want to can (canning meat is how I spend my spare time lately) which means my kitchen will resemble a war zone for a while. I try to pick up after each task in the kitchen, but it gets away from me quick.

We’ve got some impromptu guests coming this weekend, which we’re very excited about. Our good “country-neighbor” friends from MN are making a quick trip to visit and see our hilltop homestead. The kids are going to be SO EXCITED when they find out who it is… We haven’t told them because parenting is more fun when you keep the kids in suspense. #lifehack

And that’s the latest. A few struggles, a few triumphs, and a few adventures. Life as usual.

One Reply to “July is Gone, Flies are Not”

  1. I’m with you on hating flies—and mosquitoes, to be honest. Glad they left. I had to look up what water glassing is. Even while living in the boonies in Kenya, I had never heard of it. Well, now I know and cannot unknow that bit of trivia. Happy August!

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