I jumped out of bed at 5:00 this morning when I heard vague rumblings of thunder. I don’t have a rain gauge, but I think it rained about an inch. I will need to put that on the list of potential Christmas presents.
Summer came so suddenly and so hot that mentally I am in June. The garden is growing quickly and will hopefully take off now that we have had a good long rain. There is some potential for rain tomorrow and I am hopefully we will get a bit more.
The comfrey roots I purchased a month ago have finally rooted out enough that I think I can start planing them out in the orchard. I need to start some bee balm and get the hyssop planted in the grape beds.
I have harvested so many strawberries that I am a little tired of them, which I didn’t think was possible. I made strawberry ice cream today and it was a faint enough flavor that it was really good. I wish I had strained out the strawberry chunks. A note for next time, I suppose.
Have I mentioned that I ordered a few sweet potato plants? If not, I have. I grew some several years ago and I had a prolific harvest despite ignoring them for most of the summer. There is an empty space in the garden I would like to be using more wisely and that is where I have decided to place them. Here’s hoping I can manage to harvest another good crop.
I am so hoping that some of these new chicks are brown egg layers. My egg basket is so dominated by green and blue and even white eggs, but my heart has always preferred a nice brown egg.
This experience – my hens hatching their own chicks, raised 100% on this farm – has been so invigorating. This entire season really – it finally feels like I am building something. The thyme I planted last year has come back this year and has been lovingly surrounded with hay to preserve its location. Some of the lettuce I grew last year seeded itself and now I can find little lettuce plants scattered about the garden.
There are bumblebees bumbling about the garden. The grapes are growing fast. The trees are leafing out and looking gorgeous. The strawberries are producing so many that I actually got tired of eating them today. I let the little hen who has figured out if she stands next to me I will hand a strawberry top directly to her have the last small strawberries.
This life I have built is nothing like what I would have imagined at 15. But I am so, so happy and fulfilled.
One of the core tenants of my belief system in running the farm is freedom. It’s why we named the farm Libertas Acres and it’s why we spend money building fences to keep the chickens where we don’t want them instead of restricting them to a specific area. It’s why we spent hundreds of dollars replacing mulch with rocks when landscaping the front of the house.
We want the animals to live as natural a life as possible. Sometimes that means letting nature take its course, even when we really want to intervene.
I have already intervened too much over the last few days. It was mostly out of selfishness and curiosity – I wanted to see a chick hatch, I wanted to see what the second generation of little chickens looked like. The hens were letting newly hatched chicks die, yes, but they seemed to have figured it out by the time I took the last two.
I don’t have high hopes for the chicks being hatched. I’m doing what I reasonably can to help – the hens sat in the old horse trough we keep in the coop and while that has protected the eggs while they were sitting, the chickens now have no way to get to food and water. I’ve put food and water in the trough to help the hens get their babies food and water. Whether the hens think to show the chicks the food and water or if they will find it on their own I have no idea. I hope they do! I hope I am wrong and the chicks thrive and in four months I’m wondering that the heck I’m going to do with all these birds.
(Seriously, what the heck am I going to do with all these birds?!)
The hens successfully hatched and kept alive a chick! And then I stole it and put it in with my two. There was another egg hatching, so I nabbed that one to round out the crew at four. From now on, I solemnly swear not to intervene. Unless the chick is alive and they’re being bad moms because I know I won’t be able to help myself. Even if I want to help myself.
Three of them look identical. The fourth is, I think, a Rhode Island Red and Cuckoo Maran mix. I don’t actually have that may Rhode Island for them to all be mothers, but they’re the only hens I have that lay light brown eggs I think.
I have no idea. The fourth is so much smaller than the other three and now I’m worried about bullying. Ordering chicks through the mail is so much less stressful.
I harvested a large handful of strawberries yesterday and just walked around the yard eating them. I’d throw the tops to the chickens and they would argue over them.
It was so peaceful. The strawberries were delicious. The chickens were funny.
All the time, money, sweat – this is why I do this. To eat good food, let chickens be chickens, and have those moments of absolute contentment.
We are due rain tonight and I could not be more relieved. It has been such a dry spring and the trees need a good, long drink. I’m not sure how much rain we are going to get, but literally any little bit helps right now.
Another chick hatched, but the only evidence of such is the egg shell. I have no idea where the bodies are going. It’s absolutely bizarre. The two chicks that hatched yesterday are doing quite well. I’m impressed by how robust and active they are. I did candle a few more eggs and there are more chicks cooking, but who knows if I will be able to catch them before they hatch and are seemingly abducted by aliens.
The plan for this batch of chicks is to build a small mobile coop and let them scratch up future garden plots. Especially if two chicks are all we get from the crew, I would be concerned about introducing them to such a large flock. I am hopeful both are hens, but based on absolutely nothing except general pessimism, I assume they are roosters.
Yesterday, I found an empty chicken egg, but no chick. Where the chickens are laying, the only option for a chick to go missing is for it to have been eaten. Unless it’s super chick and can somehow fly within 12 hours of being hatched.
The coop has been pretty secure up until now, so I am a little concerned as to what may be happening. I went out first thing this morning to check on status and there was an egg that was starting to break. Unfortunately, I think the hens accidentally broke the egg, because the chick wasn’t done cooking and didn’t survive.
The good news is that now I am pretty sure we will have some chicks be born out of this whole mess. The bad news is that I’m now a little more concerned about the three ducks who are trying to hatch their own babies. It’s entirely possible that our entire flock could double in the next month or so.