After weeks of above average temperatures, a brief reprieve to the average was very welcome and needed.
I have largely neglected the garden over the last week and a half. We have put a plan into action to buy land, so I have been very busy with associated activities. I still have no idea if we will be buying the farm or buying another piece of land, but at least I know that in the next little bit I will have a piece of land that is mine, and I can do whatever I want with it.
The first of the cherry tomatoes are ripening. The majority of the tomato plants have flowers and small tomatoes on them. I am interested in doing a taste test in the near future to determine what the best tomato was this year. Tomatoes seem to take forever to ripen, though.
The cucumbers and squash look like they will flower out sometime this week. The bee feed mix from Seed Savers that I planted is absolutely gorgeous. I will definitely dedicate a larger space in the garden for it next year.
I can usually judge how hot it is outside by where the chickens are. If they are out and about, it’s time to work. If they’re huddled in the shade, it’s time to take a break.
It feels like it’s mid-July outside.
Not fun mid-July. Just hot as heck. Absolutely miserable.
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.