Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness


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A Perfect Match: Chickens and Cover Crops

This may sound silly to non-homesteader’s or gardener’s  – cover crops make me HAPPY!  I like that they build healthy soil that feeds my fruit trees and it’s a yummy treat for my chickens.

Last fall I was finally successful getting cover crop seed in the ground at the right time (September or October), before our rainy season started. I didn’t get the entire orchard covered but I got about 1/3 of it seeded.

The cover crop I planted is a soil builder mix and it contains bell beans, peas, various types of vetch, and oats.  I picked this one because it fixes nitrogen and my soil is in desperate need of more nitrogen! It also chokes out weeds and provides a wonderful habitat for beneficial insects. Of course, I could just put fertilizer down but it is expensive and doesn’t help build long-term soil fertility. Healthy, fertile soil that will nourish my trees keeping diseases and pests at away is what I want!

Besides being an excellent “food” for my trees, once established (5-8 inches tall), I let my chickens do the “dirty work,” and turn in the cover crop. They love the green goodness and all the bugs and grubs it brings to the soil. Take a look a the progression of this season’s cover crop. Continue reading

Around the Orchard – Fall

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Now that winter’s been here for almost a month, I thought it’d be fun to share what happened around our little homestead in the fall!

Not much has happened so far this winter. I’m behind on trimming my lemon tree and hope to get to that next week.

I’m considering planting one or two new fruit trees and deciding what to plant is proving to be challenging. There are so many options, an avocado tree is on the top of my list!

In the meantime, enjoy the photos! View the pictures →

This gallery contains 19 photos

Around the Orchard – Late Summer

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I’ve been sporadically snapping photos of what’s been happening in the orchard during the past couple months. Hope these inspire you to get outside today and enjoy the last day of summer! View the pictures →

This gallery contains 13 photos


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Around the Orchard – Spring

I’ve been sharing mostly about bees, but there are lots of other exciting things happening around here! We usually have our first apricot “harvest” in early May. I put harvest in quotes because our apricot tree is tiny, and it deserves a little more lovin’, yet it has still given us a few apricots each year. This year we got six apricots! HUGE harvest, right? Each one looked almost perfect, and had a sweet flavor.

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I Got a Black Eye…

Yes, you read that right, a black eye! The embarrassing part about it is, I gave it to myself! It’s been a month since Kim from Orchard Keepers was here pruning our fruit trees, and I’m still working on the clean up. Today, I was determined to get the rest of it done!

After getting dressed in my “tick proof” garden clothes (someday I’ll share a picture, it’s quite the outfit!), I dragged all my gear, including my new loppers out to the orchard, and I got busy cutting up branches into kindling. A few weeks ago, I did this chore with medium sized pruning shears, and it took forever! Today using loppers, things move faster, it made cutting branches easy. I was in a groove, and feeling confident I would finish today. Then, I had a little mishap with my new tool. I got my first black eye, and I gave it to myself! Continue reading


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Orchard Prune Day with Pictures


Thankfully our trees have provided fruit, even though we given them very little love, since we moved in. After attending the Fruit Tree Q&A, I realized they desperately needed a major pruning. I had no experience pruning trees or bushes, so there was no way I was going to do it myself this year! Good thing for me, there is a local company dedicated to teaching orchard maintenance.  Today, Kim from Orchard Keepers spent a full day pruning all of our trees! She let me spend the first couple hours watching and learning from her. It was information overload, but I took a few notes, and hopefully I can do the next prune myself!

She showed me how to identify one-year old wood, two-year old wood, and so on. The smoother the wood, the younger it is. She was able to give me a rough guess of their age. I thought the smaller trees were young; however, looking at the wood on the trunk, she thought most of the trees were 20 -30 years old. I was shocked! Based on their age, she suggested planting a couple new trees this spring. While that sounds exciting, I’m not sure if that’ll happen since I barely know how to maintain these trees! Continue reading


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Fruit Tree Q&A with Orchard Keepers

I’m very thankful for the free Q&A sessions that are offered by the garden centers in my area! It’s greatly appreciated by this beginner! If you’re just beginning as well, contact with your local garden center about what workshops they offer.

Today, Trevor and I attended a Fruit Tree Q&A at The Garden Company. Matthew Sutton of Orchard Keepers was the speaker. Orchard Keepers is a local company that provides orchard management, and support. They only use organic methods, so I was happy to get some advice from them about caring for our trees.  I found the Q&A very helpful, so I decided to share it.

WARNING, this is a long post! Continue reading