This past winter has been a mild one but I for one am sure glad Spring is finally here. It’s not so much the cold as is it the short days and long nights. It’s nice to have a few hours extra in the afternoon but the bad news is that the chickens don’t want to go to bed!
One hen has gone broody on us – we’ve never gone through this and I think she’ll pretty much take care of things herself but we’ll see how many hatch and whether or not she has any ducklings in the group. She’s been on the eggs 24/7 for a week or two now and only gets off to eat and drink and do her other business.
I managed to snap a photo a few days ago when she was off the nest, she has a variety of sizes and colours under her care so we’ll end up with an interesting menagerie when the time comes. We have chick-sized waterers and feeders so we’ll have to sort out what to do with her and them when the time comes.
Once in a while another hen decides she wants to get in on things. It gets a
little cramped but the broody one is very patient, she’ll be a good mother!
One of the projects for Spring was to build another nest box, we used the existing as a model and found enough old barn wood to make it happen. For the moment it’s outside next to the coop until we find the best spot for it and we’ve already had one hen use it. This was a project of my brother and I and it went quite well considering we’re both pretty much all thumbs. Thanks Barry!
We’ve also added to the flock with the acquisition of another 8 assorted young hens: a couple of Barred Plymouth Rocks, Ameraucanas, a Buff Orpington, Golden Laced Wyandotte and 2 Black sex-linked. We were told that the Buff Orpington was the queen of her flock and she showed that pretty quickly with our hens, she is now in charge! The roosters noticed her right away, she is a pretty buff/blond and was quickly named Blondie, on the right, above. We’ve actually avoided naming the birds – once it’s named it’s pretty hard to make any rational decisions about harvesting or culling but occasionally one will break the rule.
We’ve also developed a very high tech solution to keeping track of egg production. Friends from Atlanta sent us a chicken calendar which has some great photos of chickens. It’s now hanging in the coop and every time we get an egg, we mark it on the calendar. We’re up to almost a dozen a day and as it warms up and the hens from last year mature, we should get almost double that. We also have another 25 or so day old chicks set to arrive at the end of April. By this time next year we should double again to four dozen a day. Eggs are easy to sell and since each dozen contains a nice mix of white, shades of brown and green, people keep coming back for more.
On the garden front, we got our initial seed starting going a few weeks ago and now it’s time to start thinning things out. We went with about a dozen different tomatoes, mostly heritage varieties with interesting names like ‘Mortgage Lifter’, ‘Chadwicks Cherry’ and ‘Yellow Brandywine’. We also started some peppers: ‘Black Hungarian Hot’, ‘Napoleon’ and ‘Marconi Red’ among them, Eggplants some Spinach and Rosemary cuttings. Most of the seeds come from The Cottage Gardener, a small company specializing in heirloom varieties.
One new thing is to start onions from seed versus sets. We now have three varieties going, one red ‘Greek Salad’ a Spanish ‘Candy’ and for green onions ‘Summer Isle’. We’ll do some sets too so we don’t run out next winter. I’ve been following the guidelines written for our climate by an author near Kingston. The book is titled From Seed to Table, A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green by Janette Haase. It’s a month by month format and has garden plans small and larger families so it’s been very helpful.
With it warming up, Pitou and Ty really enjoy the weather,
especially with a little extra scratch behind the ear…
or a rub of the belly! (and what a belly he is getting – he’s not being fattened up for his bacon though so requests will not be taken…).