Sunday, October 30, 2016

Compost 2.0

About a year and a half ago, we began composting.  Jason built an awesome compost bin out of supplies we already had on hand.  We absolutely love composting.  But, we've come to realize we've kind of been doing it wrong.

After doing some research, Jason decided to revamp our compost bin and move it to a different spot. 

He moved it out of the garden and built it alongside our chicken run.  Perfect location.  Bugs love compost, bugs make chickens happy.  We love happy chickens.

He built the 'frame' of the compost out of large logs that have just been sitting around our fire pit.  We have more than enough wood so there was plenty to spare.

He separated it into two different sections - the left is for newer material that needs time to break down.  The right side is full of rich, dark, awesome compost.  We also keep a 5 gallon bucket full of compost next to the compost bin outside our back door.  Then we can add a little brown material to it every time kitchen scraps are dumped into it.

Once the walls were built for the compost, it was time to work on the top and front.  Of course, in true Hayes Homestead fashion, everything was made by repurposing 'junk'.  Jason's dad has a pole barn full of said junk that he inherited when he purchased the barn.  All that junk has been very beneficial to us!

There was a large piece of (what we think is) metal siding.  Using metal hand cutters, he cut it into different sized pieces.

Once he had the pieces cut, he screwed a piece of wood into the fence along the back of the compost and then also screwed a piece of wood into the metal.  He connected the two pieces with hinges so we'd be able to easily open and close the compost lids.

Once the tops were in place, he still needed to cover in between the two lids.  So, he pieced and screwed together a few other pieces of metal, attached it to wood and hinged it to the wood on the fence.

He had some friends keeping him company during part of the installation :)

With the roof finished, now he just needed to get the front of the compost secured.  He used more metal and dug holes to set large logs into the ground to lock and hold the pieces of metal in place.

And finally, completion!
(can you spot Batman in the background? :)

It's so awesome.  Jason put a lot of sweat and hard work into this!  We're so excited to see how well our compost does in this bin compared to our old one.  We've got our fingers crossed for some super awesome compost for our garden in the spring!

And, we're also excited for these girls.  With their run facing the backside of our compost, they are going to be getting so many yummy treats!

Happy Composting!

~ Sara :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Three No More, Now She's FOUR!!!

Time is not on my side, folks.  That's for sure.  Our baby, our sweet little girl just turned four. 


I don't know how it happened either.  I mean, didn't we just bring her home?  It sure feels like it.  But it also feels like she's been with us forever. 

I remember the days that she didn't talk, now she doesn't stop :)  She's loving preschool, has such a caring, motherly soul, is just the right amount of sassy, and just makes us so, so happy.

For her birthday this year, she wanted dinner at home - burgers, homemade buns, roasted potatoes, mac & cheese, and broccoli.  She wanted to pick her cake out from the store and when I asked if she wanted to make homemade ice cream for her birthday she said "yes, but then we have to make sorbet for grandma because she can't have milk.  Remember?" (which is also why we had potatoes and mac & cheese :).  So, the day before her big day, we made ice cream and sorbet and went to the store to pick out a cake.

The morning of her birthday she put on her new birthday shirt and headed to school.  She was so excited to take a treat in to school to share with her friends!


When I picked her up from school, she was all smiles.  I told her she could pick where we went to lunch and she chose her favorite spot - Jimmy John's.  Then we went home where we had more cookies.


After lunch we got ready for her dinner that night.  She got a little bit of beauty sleep on our way to pick Redmond up from school.

And then?  It was party time!  One thing that's for sure?  This girl can rock a tiara!

After dinner (which I forgot to take pictures of!), it was on to opening presents!  She got some great stuff and, thankfully, very few toys.  Toys is not something we need any more of here at the Hayes Homestead!


After presents it was time for cake - she insisted on picking one out at the store so that's what we did.  We picked out the cake, had them write on it and it was ready to go.  Easy peasy.

It was a great day, but most importantly, it was the day that she wanted.

Ashlyn, we couldn't be more proud of the young lady you're becoming!!  You are the first to say "are you okay?" if someone is hurt or not feeling good.  You are a nurturer and even at such a young age, empathy comes natural to you and you would give anyone the shirt of your back if they were in need.  You are smart, sassy, hilarious, goofy, and so fun.  You still cuddle every chance you get and can change anyone's mood just by flashing your beautiful smile.  Your brother is your best friend - you love him more than anything!  Having you in our family is just complete joy.   We love you so much!!

Happy 4th Birthday, sweet girl!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts & Cherries

A quick and easy way to prepare Brussels sprouts.  This is a great side dish for a meal or, if you're like me, it makes a great lunch.  It comes together quickly and is full of all kinds of good stuff.  Including butter!


1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
Kosher salt


1.  Heat a medium pan over medium heat and lightly toast the walnuts.  While the walnuts are toasting, cut the stem off of the Brussels, discard the outer leaves and thinly slice. Once the walnuts are toasted, remove them from the pan and set aside.

2.  Heat the butter in the pan, add the Brussels sprouts and sprinkle with . Sauté for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the Brussels have started to brown.  Add the walnuts and cherries and saute for an additional 2-5 minutes, until everything is warmed through.  Serve and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!

~ Sara :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Our Chicken Run

We have slowly been transforming our back yard into our little paradise.  We've spent countless hours in our garden and on our chicken run.  Although, really, I can't take any credit for the chicken run - Jason is the one who has put in all the hard work for that.  I posted early in the summer about how he had created a chicken run that gave the chickens quite a bit more area to roam....

....a lot more sweat has been put in to their run and, to be honest, if I was going to be a chicken, I'd want to be a Hayes Homestead chicken.

We would love to let our girls free range and wander freely, but, unfortunately, that's not an option for us.  Between the neighborhood dogs in our yard and the hawks that circle overhead, our hens would constantly be in danger.  We want our chickens to have freedom, but not have to be concerned for their safety.  They deserve a good life just as much as anyone else!  Jason had a vision, put it together, and it's awesome!

The way he has set it up is in 'zones'.  This gives us the ability to close off areas so that we can grow fresh grass for them to graze and dig up.  First, he started by putting a fence up in their original run, off of their coop.  The door we use to get in and out of the coop is on the south side of the coop.  The chicken door is on the east.  So, he put up a fence that cuts the run in half running north and south so that we can still get in and out of the coop easily, but we can block off a chunk of the run in order to grow new grass.  The gate easily latches to the side of the coop if we want them to have full access.  This also comes in handy when cleaning the coop.  I'm able to completely lock them out of the coop so I can do my job without them at my feet looking for treats :)


 Next, he fenced off a small part of our garden that we weren't utilizing this summer, but was way overgrown.  We use this area when we need to give their first extended run (with the big pine tree) a rest.  When this area is open, the gate that lets them in also shuts off the entrance to the pine tree.

Once the garden was near finished for the year, Jason decided to extend the garden area a bit by adding more fencing.  This gave the chickens the opportunity to graze on some leftover crops and dig for all kinds of bugs that had been living in the garden throughout the summer.

I know this is a bit hard to visualize via pictures!  Here is a video Jason took over the summer to share with a few of his coworkers in Maryland (it was taken before the second zone was made in the garden):

Jason still has plans to create yet another 'zone' around our fruit trees.  Although the fencing may be up this fall, we'll probably wait until the trees are a bit more mature and offer more adequate protection from hawks before we let the chickens loose in there.

His more current project is moving/restructuring our compost pile.  He's using big logs/tree stumps that have just been sitting around our fire pit.  He's also moved it out of the garden to an area that lines part of the chicken run.  This will give the chickens loads of awesome bugs to eat.  More on the compost in another post!

And there you have it!  We give our chickens lots of safe space to roam and live and they give us delicious eggs.  Fair trade I'd say :)

~ Sara :)