Goodness, it seems as if Spring has sprung here at the farm and despite the fact that the calendar still says winter, Mother Nature promises to continue marching along these same spring-type lines all next week as well with day time temps predicted to be in the mid seventies. Although there are plenty of other things to worry about, (such as the required number of days below freezing that the blueberries require for production purposes!) we decided to just go along with our activities this weekend (its not as if we can launch a protest or a defiant march or anything!) and act as if it were actually March (instead of mid February).
We stubbornly persist in all our efforts here at the farm with a popular little motto, ‘hope springs eternal’, as we constantly go back to square one to try and get things ‘right‘ or ‘even more right‘ each year. Today Dave so aptly turned this adage around by saying to me in an “oh well, here we go again” sort of way – with fingers crossed – as he started plowing the fields, ‘I guess Spring hopes eternal!’ something I found so endearing and can identify with in every way! I guess we can only hope that the promise of this early spring is eternal and doesn’t go fickle on us! To that I say, hope springs eternal!
So, today we harvested the last of the fall spinach and will give this late crop directly to the chicks in several batches since we expect these leaves to be less tender than we prefer to eat ourselves. We also finally harvested the Brussels Sprouts that love the cold weather but benefited from the added protection of a cold frame for the last several months. Here are a mass of plants…And some details of the lovely buds we can’t wait to roast. I cut the leaf matter away and will feed it to the chicks in the coming days. The fields are very dry right now so Dave was able to take advantage of this situation to spread an application of lime today followed by tilling everything under in a pre-plowing phase, something that is usually too wet to do with such large machinery at this juncture. Because of the dryness and the lime application, he wisely wore a kerchief while rumbling thru the fields today on the tractor churning in months of chicken poop fertilizer as he went! The bees also continue to take advantage of all this warm weather but will find very little in natural food sources so today I gave them some pollen patties. Yummy, right? It turns out that they are much like other active athletes and could use some carbs when there is so little viable food outside at this point in the year. So I supplied them with some purchased pollen from my bee supplier. I hope they enjoy this supplement and continue to thrive despite the crazy weather.
This weekend was also celebratory as Saturday was the opening day for the Seven Oaks Farm & Orchard Egg Subscription! Yay! I hinted at this in the previous post but it came to fruition yesterday when after much coordination with friends, family and neighbors we endeavored to find a way to distribute 7 dozen eggs on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (we have held back sufficient numbers for ourselves) so as to share our lovely eggs. Here is how it worked. Those who have signed up come to the screen porch of the barn on Saturdays between 8-11am to fill the ceramic egg crates that I have supplied. Here is the tray of crates with a money jar and log book in case I’m not around. Subscribers fill their crates to take home with these lovely, colorful eggs that are set out on another table. I think there are those who enjoy the thrill of selecting their eggs a la carte this way and learning more about where their food (eggs) come from. One enthusiastic subscriber communicated with me that she hoped we could work on an egg subscriber cookbook! A gal after my own heart…Sue and I will plan to work on this in the future!
Today was another Full House or Royal Flush of egg laying with all seventeen hens providing us with a daily egg for the 3rd time this month. Yay!
As the chicks are now at a peak laying time they seem to have out grown the initial 3 nesting boxes which I’ve been watching out for crowding as things progressed. Here they are in a stadium style line of gals waiting for the “bathroom”. In a typical early morning rush to lay, you can see eight of them vying for 3 spots with some already doubling up in some boxes if you look closely!We decided to add two more nest boxes to alleviate the crowding. One is an official wooden box that we place each morning on the drop box where the New Hampshire chick so consistently wanted to lay her eggs in the past. The decision to put a moveable box there during the day has become very popular as illustrated by the cluster of eggs from various hens laid here! This nest is called #5 in our record books. The other nest is one we bought and is the least appealing to me since it is a plastic form that one can hang from the wall with 4 screws, but despite my snobbery, it has also become very popular with the girls, perhaps due to the darkness it provides them. We placed it under the drop board across the doorway from the original nests and it is nest #4 in the record book. Of course Seven Oaks Farm eggs played a part in little Coulter’s Valentines Day as I prepared little packages for him to give to his play group teachers that day in addition to the ones he made with his mom and dad for his classmates. He handed each teacher a bag containing a heart shaped egg crate full of colorful eggs, no less! Here he is busily considering the contents of his Valentines bag…And happily out for a walk with Nana and Gramps in his ‘chickie sweater”, no less!