Farmhouse Kitchen – 75% Complete

I am bursting with excitement to show how much our kitchen has changed since I last updated! Getting this kitchen feeling clean, new and functional has been a long road, and one I knew was pivotal in how comfortable this home feels for our family.  When I last posted about the kitchen around Easter time, it was about the creepy hole o’ doom we discovered under the kitchen sink.WP_20160326_20_21_58_Pro

I’m happy to announce that, thanks to my awesome plumber father-in-law, the leaky pipe is no more. And thanks to my amazing, handy husband, the rotten wood has been replaced with new wood, the sheetrock has been repaired and there is no more hole in my kitchen wall!  Yay! WP_20160623_22_21_22_Pro

The next step in this remodel was getting the remainder of our cabinets installed. This took a long time as the kitchen remodel is not our top priority at the moment and most of our weekend time is spent keeping up with farm and garden.  In a previous post, I talked about how we may cut our extra pantry down in depth to fit in beside the washer and dryer.  In the end, we wisely returned it to the store and purchased 3 wall cabinets which are already the appropriate depth for this space and installed them to give the look of a pantry, while providing much needed bathroom storage.

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The bathroom door is just to the left of this cabinet, making this a perfect place to sneak in some bathroom storage.

Because they are wall cabinets and did not come with feet to attach the toe kick like our base cabinets, we purchased furniture feet and will be installing them underneath this cabinet as well as the wall cabinets we used for the computer desk area.WP_20160623_22_04_44_Pro

 

We finally got all the cabinets installed and just yesterday, after long weeks of patiently waiting, the countertops arrived. WP_20160623_13_44_36_Pro

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I love these countertops!

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We decided to stick with laminate to go easier on our budget and I’m glad we did.  This is not a fancy farmhouse, it’s a humble farmhouse.  Simple pleasures, country style, functional and clean.  These are my goals for this renovation.  The countertop we chose perfectly marries the white cabinets and stainless steel appliances with the warm tones of the wood floor.  There are even some subtle hints of teal in these countertops which coordinates with the color I’ve chosen for the walls. WP_20160623_13_40_32_Pro

One of my favorite features of this kitchen is the island.WP_20160623_13_47_21_Pro

It’s a nice, big gathering space and pulls triple duty for meal prep, casual dining for the kids and a homeschool work area.

I found these stools online and had to order them.WP_20160623_13_36_40_Pro  The price was nice, the size was perfect and I love the walnut wood finish.  I wanted to add walnut accents in the kitchen to warm up the white and stainless steel.  I think the stools coordinate well with the wood grain in the flooring as well.

Finally, my farmhouse kitchen sink and faucet were installed last night by my father-in-law.WP_20160623_16_40_23_Pro Ah, this big, beautiful farmhouse sink.  Not only was the stainless steel easier on the budget, but I like how it matches the appliances while contrasting against the white cabinets.  I like the country-meets-modern feel of this combo. WP_20160623_13_38_29_Pro

The cabinets I chose didn’t offer a farmhouse sink base cabinet, and I wanted my sink base to match the rest of my cabinets, so we made this one work rather than ordering a base designed specifically for a farmhouse sink from a different company.  Once Ryan knew what to do, it wasn’t hard to modify the sink base to support the sink.  We will use the false front that came with our sink base to fill in the gaps on the sides to give a polished look to our cabinet.  WP_20160623_13_38_57_Pro

So what’s next for this kitchen? Even after all this work and time (going on 7 months!) this kitchen is still not done.  The biggest project left is to remove this old, drafty, beyond-hope-so-why-bother-cleaning-it window from the back wall, fill in a little sheetrock so we can install the fridge topper (it’s currently just sitting atop the fridge), and install the patio door.

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This wall is where the sliding patio door will be installed.

This door is going to change this kitchen with light and air.  I cannot wait to see it, and better yet, for the day I get to step outside on the new deck and sip my morning coffee.  (I’m getting ahead of myself, but I can dream, right?)

 

Besides the door, we need to select and install backsplash tile in the kitchen, get these patchy walls freshly painted, install the toe kick under our cabinets, put open shelving on the walls above the “desk” area, install the furniture feet we purchased to go under the desk and bathroom linen cabinets, update the lighting and replace all the trim in the kitchen. Not too bad, right? 🙂

Anybody care to flashback to what we started with when we bought this house?

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Before : (

 

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After! 🙂

 

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Before : (
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After! 🙂

What do you think?  Improvement?

Becca

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More Chicks

Last week we got new chicks!WP_20160615_06_58_37_ProThis time they went straight into our new brooder rather than a box in our kitchen.  The downside of that is we don’t get to enjoy the baby chicks as much since they are out in the barn.  The upside is no smell or mess in the house!

WP_20160611_17_16_26_ProRyan converted a small room behind our chicken coop into a brooder by cutting out a piece of plywood and adding in a mesh panel to create a window for light and ventilation.

We ended up ordering 25 more Red Broilers. We butchered our Red Broilers from our original batch and had a chance for a side by side taste test between them and the Jumbo Cornish Cross that we butchered a few weeks ago.

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The RB is on the left, the JCC is on the right

I roasted a Jumbo Cornish Cross (JCC) and a Red Broiler (RB) side by side.  Both birds weighed the same at 4 pounds 10 oz.  The RB had larger legs, while the JCC had a wider breast, unsurprisingly.

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RB on the left, JCC on right

We found the RB to have tastier white meat, while the dark meat was a bit chewier, but still good.  Both birds taste delicious, actually, and we knew we couldn’t go wrong with either.  We decided to raise another batch of the RB just because they are so much easier to keep.  They behave like normal chickens, can free range well and don’t need daily moves in the pen like the JCC.  The RB needed about 3 extra weeks to reach the same weight as the JCC.

 

Along with the RB chicks, we ordered some chicken breeds known for winter egg production. Because we are in Minnesota and our winters are so long, cold and dark, making sure we had enough hens to lay during winter was a top priority in our flock, along with above average laying ability and cold hardiness.  We purchased 4 hens each of the following breeds:

Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, Buff Orpington, Black Laced Wyandotte, Delaware, and Easter Eggers. Easter Eggers lay blue and green eggs but are the only breed in the above list that are not known for winter egg production.  They are hybrids who carry the blue egg gene, however, so it’s possible some will be suitable for winter laying.

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Easter Egger chicks

The breeds we currently have that will also lay well in winter are:

 

Speckled Sussex

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On paper, the Speckled Sussex is a very promising breed.  Above average layer, occasional broodiness for hatching chicks, very good meat quality, calm and curious personality, winter layer, and good forager!  What more can man ask of a bird?

 

Black Jersey Giant

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Our roo is getting hefty, but he’s nowhere near full grown yet!

 

Dominique

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The Dominique has been the most friendly breed of chicken on our farm!  One hen in particular, Henrietta, has worked her way into “pet” status.  She’ll sit in our laps around the campfire, “ask” to be held, and stands perfectly still when you reach for her.

 

Buckeye

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Our Buckeyes haven’t been overly friendly and seem content to be left alone.  Unless I see some great rodent control, which is the reason we purchased these pullets, I won’t be continuing them once our hens cease to lay. 

 

We also have Welsummers, however they will not provide eggs in winter and therefore we will likely not replace them or breed them.

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Welsummer rooster

 

We also ordered three more Bourbon Red turkey poults, WP_20160621_14_30_08_Pro

plus our 15 guineas arrived with this shipment as well! WP_20160621_14_33_05_ProThose things are tiny and zip quickly around the brooder!  I had read raising guineas with chickens helps them be less wild so I’m hoping that is the case with ours.  I can’t wait until they are old enough to be released on the farm.  We have lots of wood ticks, among other bugs, for them to feast on.  Even if we never find a single guinea egg or ever eat a guinea, they will have a place on our farm as long as they are eating bugs and ticks.

Becca

The Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden is finally in! We got it in a bit later than we wanted, but better late than never.  This garden is huge.

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I ended up doing the majority of the tilling of this garden myself since Ryan was busy with the chicken coop project. Let’s just say I’m not a skilled tiller!  Maybe it’s something you get better at with practice?  I thought I was doing a good job at the time but when I went to plant the seeds I could see there were patches that didn’t get tilled properly.

It’s about 3,500 square feet. We pounded T posts into the ground and attached 4 foot chicken wire to them all around the garden to keep out our poultry.  It seems to be doing the job just fine. WP_20160607_13_40_10_Pro

We decided to plant the following: sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, pumpkins, lettuce, carrots, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, zucchini, radishes, watermelon, cilantro, onions, dill, basil, bush beans, sugar snap peas, beets, chives, leeks and spinach.

We’d like to purchase a pressure canner this year and learn to can any excess from the garden. I brought home 17 heirloom tomato plants, both Roma and Beefsteak.  If all goes well we’ll be swimming in tomatoes and we could can our own sauces.WP_20160615_07_48_17_Pro

I spent some time weeding the garden yesterday and many of our plants are beginning to come up! It’s so rewarding to see things beginning to grow after all the work required to get a garden planted.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I’ve worked in a garden.  As I was weeding yesterday, I realized how much I’ve missed spending peaceful moments, connecting with creation, in my garden.

The next step with the garden is to mulch all the soil to keep it covered. We learned that little trick after watching an excellent video called “Back to Eden.”  Covering the soil greatly minimizes the amount of weeds growing in the garden, keeps moisture in the soil for the plants and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down.  Nothing kills the joy of gardening like getting overrun with weeds.  We tried this last year with our little garden at our previous home.  Every time Ryan mowed he’d put the grass clippings over the soil.  It made a noticeable difference with the amount of weeds that came up.  This year we are going to use the hay/manure mixture that we’ve been cleaning out of our winter barnyard and animal stalls.

Do you garden?  Even just a pot of tomatoes on a patio can be such a rewarding and fun experience.  Happy gardening to you and here’s hoping our gardens are fruitful this year!

Becca

Chicken Coop Remodel

We’ve been busy working on a number of projects around our farm. Well, scrambling is more like it.  One of the projects that needed attention was the chicken coop.  It had no roosts and we wanted to make it bigger to accommodate our large, multi-species flock.  The first thing we did was remove a plywood wall dividing the front coop area from the middle room we had used previously as our brooder.

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Chicken coop before the dividing wall was removed.

 

 

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Removing the wall
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Almost done!

This now makes our coop about 260 square feet. There is one more small room on the other side of the chicken coop, which will function as our new brooder whenever we order baby chicks and, during the breeding season, will allow us to separate roosters with certain hens.

 

Once the wall was taken down, the next project that needed to be completed was adding roosts. Rather than going to the store and purchasing materials, Ryan took the boys and a saw into our woods to hunt for 2-inch saplings to make the roosts with.  He used some 2x4s he found when he took down the dividing wall as support for the roosts.  He cut the saplings to fit in between the supports and screwed everything in place.  We allowed for about 10 inches of roost space per bird.

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So nice to complete a project and not have to spend a penny!

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We still need to make nesting boxes for our coop, so we aren’t able to cross the chicken coop project off our list completely yet. There were some nesting boxes in the barn when we moved in, however they seem rather small.  Ryan would like to build some bigger boxes with access doors from the outside of the coop for easy egg gathering.  The ducks will also need some large nesting boxes at ground level.  We don’t expect any birds to be laying eggs for another couple months, so we have some time until those projects will need to be completed.

Much more needs to be accomplished around the farm this summer.  On to the next thing!

Becca