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Fresh Herbs

September 8th, 2013

We may not be prepared to keep bees, but we like to see them working on flowers that they like and that we will grow, in part, with the bees in mind. The culinary herbs from our own patch taste better for being freshly gathered or frozen green, rather than dry from a jar.

-Christoper Lloyd & Richard Bird (The Cottage Garden

This year I’m definitely missing some of my perennial herbs from my Ohio garden. I had a few big, beautiful sage plants that I harvested many leaves from, mostly for frying in butter. I started seeds this spring for sage, but I’m letting the plants get established before harvesting too many leaves.
fried sage leaves
I didn’t get any chamomile planted this year, luckily I have a big jar full from last year to get me through the winter.
herbs 1
herbs 2
I do have chives and five or six varieties of thyme, along with mints, hyssop, tarragon, horehound, oregano, marjoram and parsley.  That’s enough to get me through, I certainly can’t wait until my garden is once again teaming with as many herbs as I can grow!

How many different herbs do you have in your garden?

Quote of the Day: Farmer Boy

March 10th, 2013

“A farmer depends on himself, and the land and the weather. If you’re a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wear, and you keep warm with wood out of your own timber. You work hard, but you work as you please, and no man can tell you to go or come. You’ll be free and independent, son, on a farm.”

Father to Almanzo (Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Mr Chiots and I aren’t farmers, but we can certainly appreciate this quote and what it means.  Even gardening on a small scale can bring a sense of freedom and independence.  Here in Maine, we also heat with wood, which is a wonderful thing. There’s no paying the propane, natural gas, or heating oil bill.  The electric bill is smaller and the house is cozier.
splitting wood 4
When you heat with wood, there’s a lot of work involved. Our splitter just arrived this week, so we’re now madly splitting wood in preparation for next winter.

splitting wood 6
splitting wood 8
Yesterday was spent splitting a big pile of wood, today we’ll do the same.  We both work on splitting, loading and unloading the truck. These are the kinds of chores that are better when shared.  We started around noon and were able to split three truckloads.  Hopefully tomorrow we can do even more.
splitting wood 2
splitting wood 5
splitting wood 1
It’s good to know that we’ll be warm and toasty all winter regardless of how full our propane tank is.  We really love heating with wood, there’s nothing quite like standing next to a warm wood burner on a cold winter morning. Not to mention, Dexter wouldn’t know what to do without a warm wood burner to sleep in front of!

What method of heat do you use in your house? 


March 9th, 2013

I’ve been wanting to add more chickens to our flock for a while now. We average about 6 eggs a day from our flock of 7, that’s just enough for our breakfast. Mr Chiots and I each eat two eggs and the chiots gets two as well. This summer, we’re supposed to have a strapping young fellow living with us (more on that later), so I started checking Craig’s List for chickens a few weeks ago.
New Chickens 1 (1)
There was one lovely flock of 12 that I missed owning by only an hour. Then I came across a listing for 2 roosters and 4 hens. They were close, only about 15 minutes away. I contacted seller and we met Thursday night. I handed over $20 in the parking lot of the local Agway and she handed over 6 chickens. What a bargain!
New Chickens 8
This flock is a rescue. She works at a local animal shelter and from what I gather this flock showed up one day. They’ve been living in her barn for a while, she was making sure they were healthy and that the roosters weren’t mean. She guesses that they’re about 9 months old or so.
New Chickens 2 (1)
I ended up with 2 big roosters that are pretty docile so far (let’s hope that trait stays). The lady I got them from said her and her 12 year old daughter were picking them up and handling them every day to make sure they weren’t aggressive. They’re big handsome fellows, white and black with bright red combs and bright yellow feet.  We’re so happy to have a rooster once again, they do such a great job of protecting the ladies.
New Chickens 9
Along with these two handsome fellows came 4 hens. A big ginger one, a mostly black one, a buff one, and a reddish one. The lady I got them from guessed that they’re Wyandottes, though the ginger one might be a Buff Orpington. It’s hard to say, they could all be barnyard mutts.  I don’t know my chicken breeds very well. They lay four eggs a day though, so it doesn’t really matter.
New Chickens 4 (1)
Most people like to start flocks with chicks, I’d much rather start with older chickens. I don’t care if my chickens aren’t tame and don’t want to sit on my lap.   It’s also nice that I don’t have to feed and care for these chickens for 6 months before they start to lay, they’re already doing that.  Eventually, I’d like to get a few ladies that are skilled at raising their own, then they could raised chicks much better than I ever could.
New Chickens 6 (1)
I did a lot of research on how to integrate these birds into our flock. There are all sorts of ideas on how it should be done. Finally, I settled on the advice of an old-timer who said, “I just put the new chickens in the coop at night and in the morning they work out the pecking order.  I’ve been doing that for 50 years and have never had any serious issues.”
New Chickens 7 (1)
The new chickens were introduced into the coop on Thursday evening around 7, there was a lot of clucking and boking going on, but all of our current chickens pretty much stayed on their roosts. The next morning, I was up with the sun to check on them and make sure things weren’t getting out of hand.
New Chickens 3 (1)
Amazingly, there wasn’t much besides clucking, boking, and crowing going on. It was a loud day in the coop for sure, there was a constant hum of noise coming that direction. Every hour I headed out to check on everyone and all was well on each visit. There was a little big of pecking, chasing and fighting, but nothing worse than I’ve seen between the ladies in our current flock.  It looked like fairly normal behavior for establishing the pecking order.  Towards the end of the day it seemed everyone had worked out their differences.  I’ll continue to watch them closely for the next couple days to make sure nothing does happen.
New Chickens 5 (1)
Now I’m wondering when I can let them all out of the run to free range. The weather looks to be nice for the next couple days so they would certainly enjoy it, I just want to make sure they’ll all make their way back to the coop at night.  I certainly do not want to be hunting for chickens at dusk!

How many eggs, on average, are consumed per day in your home? 

Friday Unfavorite: Writer’s Block

March 8th, 2013

Every now and then it hits, writer’s block, photography block, gardening block, cooking block. I have all kinds of new photos, many beautiful ones from my trip to South America, and yet, I find myself staring at my computer screen in the evening feeling like I have nothing to say.
long winters nap
The same can happen in the garden, we can feel unmotivated to weed, plant or even harvest vegetables. There are also days when we’re hungry and nothing sounds good. It happens to everyone at times, no one is immune. Typically, I stop, sit back, make a cup of tea and read a good book. It seems that helps inspire me once again. Generally, it means that I need to take time away from my work and relax, it has been a long work week so far. I guess I should try to take a few hours off this weekend to regroup.

How do you deal with lack of creativity and motivation in life?

Adding Up

March 7th, 2013

It’s amazing how quickly seed and plant orders can add up. Now that I’m starting over again, I’m at that point where I need to purchase plants once again. Back in Ohio, my gardens were pretty much full as far as perennials. Luckily, I brought a lot of plants with me, so I’ll save some money. I’m also starting all my herbs and a few perennials from seed, which will save me a bundle as well.
buying plants
I could wait to purchase some of the plants I want, but my goal is to set up a nursery area this summer that I can use solely for propagating plants for the garden. Since I’ll be propagating future plants, I want to get these plants in ASAP. I’ll work on developing my vision for this place as I tend my nursery of plants.

Do you set a budget for your garden spending each year?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.