Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS—especially of chickens. This week, HOMEGROWN talked to new member, new homesteader, and newish chicken keeper Liv about her likes (bonfires, New Hampshire Reds) and her dislikes (the urban rat race, Rhode Island Reds). Get to know her below and if you’ve got a question, don’t be shy: Add it to the convo. As Liv says, she’s hoping to make some new friends around here. We second that!

What is Meet Your Neighbors? We can spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands.

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Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 22, 2013 at 11:08am

Good morning in Virginia, Liv! What’s the weather like today where you are? And speaking of where you are, tell us more: out in the country, right?

Comment by Liv Maynard on October 22, 2013 at 12:07pm

In the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge. It was a chilly morning but cleared up and is nearing 70 today. Wind's blowing and sun is trying to shine!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 22, 2013 at 12:12pm

It sounds gorgeous. Go, sun, go! We can almost picture it, but help paint the scene for us: You haven't always lived there, nestled in the foothills, right? We hear that you relocated from the city a few years back and that you’re on an almost-brand-new-to-you piece of property now. Can you fill us in? Why make the move? What were you guys looking for?

Comment by Liv Maynard on October 22, 2013 at 12:16pm

Oh the city misery! Our yearly trips to mountain bluegrass festivals sucked us in to stay. I have a guest spot on a blog that will help explain in detail for future viewing: http://blueyurtfarms.com/homestead-tour-shady-grove-homestead/#more... It's a well thought out explanation of things :)

Comment by Liv Maynard on October 22, 2013 at 12:18pm

My husband and I worked endless hours to pay endless bills. Keeping up with the neighbors was a sad existence. Our move to the country has changed our family in a million ways. We're closer, happier and healthier for sure!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 22, 2013 at 12:21pm

Sounds like a good move, in all senses. We'll check that post out! In the meantime, we're guessing chickens might have had something to do with it. You've already built a pallet coop in your two-ish months at Shady Grove Homestead and you're hoping to sell laying hens and eggs come spring. It's a bigger thought process than one short comment can convey—we know!—but tell us about the breeds you've decided to raise and why, in a nutshell. Er, an eggshell.

Comment by Liv Maynard on October 22, 2013 at 12:24pm

We built the pallet coop in March at our rented place, starting with Rhode Island Reds. It was a great learning experience. I learned that I don't like RIR's ;) When we moved in here late July, we re-built the coop and found another one on the property that just needed a few repairs. Now we're raising Buff Orpingtons, New Hampshire Reds (my absolute favorite), and Ameraucanas. Integrating different age groups has been keeping us busy and alert!

Comment by Liv Maynard on October 22, 2013 at 12:26pm

I love, love the New Hampshire Reds! They are calm, people friendly, laid early, lay consistently, and great foragers. They're also cold weather tolerant birds, so that works for Virginia mountain weather.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 22, 2013 at 12:28pm

Speaking of integrating age groups, we also heard something about you building a bonfire pit. Now that has to be a hit with folks of all ages—and a good excuse to invite the neighbors over. Have you had a fire yet? Any tips for other HOMEGROWN types who might be thinking about making their own pits?

Comment by Liv Maynard on October 22, 2013 at 12:33pm

Yes we have! (I have teenagers, it's a great way to entertain their friends to0.) Our land is slightly hilly, we dug a good sized pit, leveled it with shovels and a rake, then buried rocks deep around the side edges, creating an inner fire wall. Then my husband stacked rocks like a crazy game of tetris around the top. When you live out here, an hour away from any form of entertainment, a bonfire is typical weekend night fun. 


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