Red Dirt Farm and Studio

Living a creative life artist farmer dreamer

The chickens and I are joining Sarah from Down By The Sea for Through the Garden Gate, February.  Through the Garden Gate is a monthly link up for gardeners to share what is happening in their garden each month.


Honestly, there just isn’t much happening in our gardens just now.  I hesitate to join along but here goes anyway.

We will start our walk out on the North 40.  In front of the hen-house, a majestic holly tree is still covered in beautiful red berries.  When I first got into chicken farming a few years ago, I read that holly berries are poisonous to chickens, I was quite concerned as we have three different hen houses, coops and runs near that tree.  Turns out the chickens instinctively know not to eat the berries.




A thornless blackberry is planted at the base of the purple martin house, it has a few green leaves.



The trees are bare skeletal sculpture against the winter sky and the grass is brown.  We’ll stroll around back behind the big hen-house where the pond is frozen and the chickens like to go ice skating from time to time.





 We farm with no pesticides or herbicides and our gardens are presented in a natural way – a polite way of saying it is a bit of an unruly natural mess, you won’t find neat tidy rows. Orchestrated chaos that’s what it is. Mulch is nonexistent because having chickens that free range it is rather pointless.  The chickens spend every free minute rearranging mulch, plants and anything else that comes across their path.  We have learned to accept that this farming style can be a bit messy and weedy and we are good with that because we feel it is better for the earth and wildlife not to use chemicals.

  February yields mostly brown tones and weed/seed heads and grasses that are left in place for winter interest as well as food and cover for the birds that visit and call our place home.  I enjoy the sculptural quality of the grasses and seed pods.


A concrete hare marks the spot where my hellebore is planted in the perennial garden.  Early February Miss Patty LaBelle scratches through the leaves and confirms there are no signs of life just yet.


There is a bright red cardinal high up in the poplar tree, the oak tree is a preferred spot for vultures to roost.  It also makes a great haunted tree look when they are in residence.  Firey red leaves and berries on the Nandina. Sculptural remains of pokeberry.

Blackberry lily seeds remain, plump and ready for re-seeding themselves.  Honeysuckle is intertwined everywhere, at least it provides a bit of green.


Wild morning glory scrambles up the pole to the bat house.


Grasses sway in the breeze and reveal birdhouses tucked inside here and there.

Sweet Annie is a favorite of mine, every time I walk past I run my hands through it and then enjoy the scent it leaves behind on my palm.


This is a weed, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the name, but I still find the seeds interesting.


Chickens scattered under the grape arbor and under the pear trees.

The Koi pond at the front of the property is still in winter slumber, the fish are barely visible just below a layer of ice.

The magnolia – Saucer Magnolia – Magnolia Soulangeana

and dogwood buds are just beginning to burst with growth.  A pair of Bluebirds up in the magnolia survey the house below, soon they will begin to build their first nest of the season.




Dried Goldenrod and perennial Hibiscus and a hardy banana tree, Banano resistgente Musa basjoo – cut back for Winter.






Cinnamon was hatched late last summer, she is a Buff Orpington and Black Alstralourpe mix, she lays lovely brown eggs and she blends in nicely with all the other brown in the garden.


Dried flower heads of Sedum – Autumn Joy.


Snowball scratches among the wicked thorns on the David Austin rose – Winchester Cathedral – a prize find.  Last spring, the garden center forgot to water this rose and when I found it, it was all but dead and therefore was significantly discounted.  This brand of roses is normally not in my budget.  I brought it home talked ever so sweetly to it, watered it and told it how happy I was to have it living on the farm.

  I was rewarded with beautiful flowers for the remainder of the summer.  Sweet victory.

A striking combination of purple and green from sage.


Finally, green shoots of daffodil  – signs that spring is coming.

But first more snow fell and everything is covered in white magic.



Perrenial Garden

Vegetable Garden

Front wildflower garden.



 We lost several trees and lots of branches from the ice and snow.

Finally over in the woodland area, daffodils emerge.




Back to browsing all the seed catalogs and dreaming of spring planting.  We anticipate more winter weather in the next few days – say it ain’t so.

Thanks for walking through the gardens with the girls and me.  I hope you will visit Sarah and the other bloggers that are joining along this month.

xo Kim

28 thoughts on “Through The Garden Gate February 2019

  1. lindasschaub says:

    I enjoyed the walk with you and the girls Kim. I like the brown tones of your yard and the little berries or dabs of color here and there. And then the snow arrived, a nice fresh coating that made everything look beautiful and perfect, like you tipped the snowglobe, let the flakes fly then came in and wrote the narrative for your photos. Take care and hopefully the Winter will be over soon – for both of us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. hi Linda – thanks for walking with us. I like the thought of a snowglobe, somehow that seems to take the edge off the endless winter and makes it feel less bad… I know you probably want an ending too so you can get out on with the walking. Thanks for stopping in. xo kim

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lindasschaub says:

        Yes I do Kim, though I’ve looked at a fellow’s blogger’s tales about her Wisconsin Winter and another one’s photos about Quebec and our snow pales in comparison. I’d like it very much to be March 28th, even if it means wishing my life away. Take care Kim.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. vicki says:

    Great pics!! Thanks for sharing your gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there Vicki – not so much to share at this time, but you know there is hope for spring and the future and that’s all you can ask for. Good to hear from you. xo kim


      1. vicki says:

        Ok.. So I had to link into that Through the garden gate link up you did! SO FUN!! Made me then also go visit your actual blog. It’s ADORABLE!!! I love your layout and colors. Great job!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah says:

    It’s wonderful you have joined in ‘ Through the Garden Gate’, this month, I did enjoy our walk around the garden, as always you pictures are wonderful and good to see the hens including their attempts at skating! Hopefully you will join us in later months and see your home grown flowers and flower stall. Sarah x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah – Thanks for walking along. I wanted to post a video of the ice skating chickens but my connection is too slow and it won’t upload. Glad to join along and hopefully in a few months I’ll do it again! xo kim


  4. spanishwoods says:

    Your photos are so very beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, you took my heart with that comment. Thank you for saying so. xo kim


  5. Anonymous says:

    Your style of gardening is just perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, how kind. It isn’t for everyone, but yes, it works for us. There are times we wish we had fewer weeds… xo kim


  6. Kris P says:

    I enjoyed my tour, Kim! You have a LOT of chickens, all lovely ladies. I played with the idea of getting a few chickens myself (some neighbors keep them) but, with coyotes a constant presence here, keeping them safe isn’t always easy – and then I don’t have the space you do either. I’m glad the rose came through for you and I hope warmer weather and fresh blooms will brighten your days soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kris – we do have a lot of chickens – our number right now is somewhere between 50-70. They are so rewarding – or having their fresh eggs is rewarding. Somedays I think I spend the entire day chasing off one predator after another, it can be exhausting and frustrating, but in the end we feel it is healthier for them to be out eating fresh greens, and bugs and other yummy natural things. They are good about putting themselves into their coop come evening and lockdown time. I’m so happy about my rose too, I sure hope it blooms as nicely this year. Holding my breath for warm weather and blooms. Thanks for stopping in. xo kim


  7. ruthsoaper says:

    What a lovely tour Kim. You chickens are gorgeous. We don’t use chemical on our farm either and although I do have mulch in one garden it never stays where I want it thanks to our girls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ruth – nice to hear from you. I know, those girls will rearrange a garden and the contents in a heartbeat! Yeah for chemical-free gardens, it doesn’t make for an easier way – just healthier. Stay warm and keep an eye out for spring. xo kim

      Liked by 1 person

  8. tonytomeo says:

    The native flora does not look like I would have expected for Virginia; but I have never been there. It looks more like Oklahoma, with so many lanky trees. That seems to be a common theme in many regions. Some of the evergreens sort of look like Eastern red cedar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tony – that is so interesting about it looking like Ok, I would never have guessed that, I’ve never been there, red dirt like Ok, though. So, the county we live in is a heavily forested and logged county – pines mostly, but hardwoods too. My dad is a retired forester, instrumental in taking loblolly pine and engineering them to be tall and straight so that they are easier to harvest. Our property is completely surrounded by tree farms – good because we don’t have neighbors on top of us. Annoying at times because we have logging trucks constantly going up and down the country road. Most of our evergreens are very old hemlocks, which I absolutely love, and they were instrumental in me wanting to purchase this property. Thanks for stopping in. Kim

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Wow, hemlocks (Eastern) are something I have never seen in the wild. I think that the few pines I saw in Oklahoma were Georgia pines. I would not know a loblolly pine if I saw it. I found that the flora that I was most fascinated with was not so appreciated by those in Oklahoma.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Diana Studer says:

    I didn’t realise that hens would be happy with ice and snow! They look very happy in your care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana – love your blog, such interesting plants. The girls prefer not to be out in the snow or ice when it is coming down and will spend the day inside their run and coops. Once the snow stops falling most will venture out in it, especially if we make paths for them and then put down straw – yes they are spoiled that way – they have us trained! Thanks for stopping in and leaving a message. Best, Kim


  10. Mrs. N in Japan says:

    What a beautiful and “real” post. This is reality. But the reality is beautiful. I think the garden has beauty to offer in each season it passes thru. And each season has lessons for us if we look closely.

    I have only a few rescued plants in pots on my front porch. Those and my little window garden. Soon, says Mr. N , the junk pile will be hauled away and I can create a small potted sanctuary in the tiny corner and I claimed as my own-out back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Connie – I know you will make that claimed spot special and I look forward to reading the progress – at least I hope you will share with your readers as you turn it into your own special place. Embrace the beauty of your season my dear. xo Kim


      1. Mrs. N in Japan says:

        I definitely will share!


  11. DA Squires says:

    Such a treat, Kim, to wander your beautiful property virtually…your chickens are gorgeous, so robust and healthy, precisely because they are raised naturally in a pesticide-free environment. Adore Cinnamon– feather color palette is magnificent!! I think every season has its secrets and beauty, perhaps more hidden in winter, but there are always glimpses.. the budded daffodils = spring is coming to Red Dirt Farm : ) Your photography could win prizes, and your words are the perfect match. XO Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie – Glad you took the tour with me and the girls. I do believe that our style of farming and gardening, makes for a healthier lifestyle. We so many compliments from people that eat our eggs, so I think it is a testament to doing something right. Isn’t Cinnamon lovely – wish my hair looked like her feathers! We are waiting so impatiently for spring to arrive! Take my heart with your photography comment. xo kim


  12. says:

    Cinnamon has such beautiful colors. My Dad, when he was alive, started dismantling the fronts of bird houses and putting them back together in such a way (I forget) that he could open them up every spring and clean out the old nest for new renters.


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