Chickens 2.0

March is an odd month. As it draws to a close, there are signs of new life and new horizons everywhere on the farm. It occurred to me yesterday that– “Hey, I didn’t go back to work!” I had meant to “find a job” starting March 1, but some work came to me, and really a series of small tasks with breaks between suits my current energy level. There’s planting and watering every day in the greenhouse.

March is when I always get anxious for the homegrown produce to begin, and every warm day, like yesterday, I’m restlessly roaming the property and doing spring cleaning. Cleaning the beds of weeds (still too frozen even to turn over the soil). Cleaning out the freezer and cooking up those last batches of venison chili and pesto pasta. Cleaning out the potato bin and throwing away the hopelessly sprouted and withered tubers.

This week we ate the last garden garlic bulb of the 2016 season. I had to put garlic on the grocery list because I’m so out of the habit of buying it. In eight weeks or less, we’ll have “green garlic,” small cloves and then scapes.

The trees that lined the driveway are cleared away, though there are still a lot of stick piles that will be burned in a few weeks. Oddly, the heaps of wood make me think of signal fires in Greek epics. Either that, or the aftermath of a tornado.

 

The landscape changed instantly with their removal, and there are surprises. There is more light and space. Walking across the commons to the house, I also noticed our backyard oak from a different aspect. And I saw for the first time how it leans, how it is stretching and struggling to support the long outstretched arm. I never saw its shape, even though I see this tree from my kitchen window.

Downstairs in the basement everything is sprouting. Even the peppers, on their heat mat, are coming up. Out in the greenhouse, I’m hopeful we’ll have good baby spinach and arugula for Easter. We should even have radishes.

Also downstairs is the constant cheeping of our new set of baby chicks. By the barn, my remaining chicken and Tim’s remaining chicken (he has two but one is sick and doesn’t leave the barn) wander around together. I call them the “sole survivors.” They look healthy and strong and are starting to lay an egg now and then. I found one under the pine when I took out some miscellaneous sunflower sprouts.

I bought two kinds, 3 Americauna and 3 Blue-laced Wyandottes. I love Wyandottes, and this is the variety they had at the newly discovered local hatchery. Two sisters hatch and raise chickens on the family dairy farm, and take care of old horses they once used for horseback riding lessons and kids’ horse camps. Last year they processed 750 chickens just for family and friends to eat through the winter, and their eggs go to the same people. My freezer would never empty.

The Americaunas will lay blue or greenish-blue eggs. I already know Wyandottes are good layers.
This batch of chicks are already very entertaining. I don’t remember the last batch sleeping so much. I definitely don’t remember them just sacked out in a heap or splayed all over the box. But more funny, when awake these chicks like to sit in a row on their food tray. They roost there all day. I have a feeling these chickens would love a swing! I can’t wait to see where they’ll roost and what they’ll get into when they’re grown. I do love chickens.

 

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