You can smell it in the air

Spring is coming. Today we delivered the Garden planner and seed to DD and GD. GD was delighted at her binder with a simplified plan, companion planting guide, square foot planting sheet, and when it is safe to plant sheet. After going through DD’s old seed and combining some seed packages, we took a walk out to their 3 boxes from last year to discuss the best arrangement for the new 3 boxes they plan to add. It is a glorious, sunny, mild day, a delight to be outside.

Yesterday morning, as I was adding water to my hydroponic herb garden and trimming some of the herbs, I took a picture of it for Son2 and his family that gave it to me for Christmas. I am thoroughly enjoying the fresh herbs in cooking and salads and drying dill and mint as I can’t keep up with them.

As I worked with it, it occurred to me that a large version of it would be the perfect seed starter for the tomatoes and peppers for the garden and could be used to grow lettuce and spinach in winter and when it is too hot outdoors in the summer. DH suggested I put it on my wish list and he could get it for me for next Christmas.

As I was preparing to lock up the hens last night, one of the Welsummers is almost always the last to go in the coop. She stood there looking up the ramp and as usual, I was amused by the pantaloons that breed wears.

After thinking that I had turned the corner on chick loss as they all seemed healthy and active yesterday, I found the second Maran this morning, so there will be no chocolate brown eggs. In talking with DH about it, I told him, I could have ordered directly from the hatchery if I wanted a dozen of the same breed, but since everything I have ordered in the past few months has been delayed by the USPS for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks beyond the original tracking delivery date, I feared that chicks would meet the same fate and not survive the trip. That is why I purchased from Rural King, but 9 out of 19 dying is not good. I don’t know whether to go back with my receipts and see if they will replace at least a few of the 5 they haven’t already replaced or accept that I have what I have and just keep some or all of the older hens too. I am hoping that the nights will soon stop dropping into the 20’s and start seeing more feathers on the chicks so they can be moved to the garage. I really don’t like having them in the house, even in the basement.

I need to get a new bale of straw and do a coop cleaning. In about 6 weeks, I will have to thoroughly clean and sanitize it before I can move the chicks to it. Either they or the older hens will have to use an old style feeder bucket until the two flocks can be on the same feed and in the same coop. I really like the 5 gallon feeder I made with the pvc elbows, but I think the chicks wouldn’t be able to reach the feed in it and they need to stay on starter/grower until they are at least 16 weeks old.

A New Month and New Challenges

March roared in like a lion with strong wind, heavy rain, dark and gloomy. The rain eventually stopped and yesterday instead of feeling like late spring was more seasonal temperatures. The wind calmed only to pick back up last night, rattling screens and disturbing sleep. In the strength of yesterday’s storm, the HVAC technician came to do our semiannual servicing. We always need a new filter, living on a dirt driveway off a dirt road and having two big dogs in the house. The system is now 15 years old and the capacitor was degrading. He said it might be okay for another year, but it might go out at any time and leave us in need of a service call, so we had it replaced. I wanted to joke and ask him how we would get back to 1955 if the flux capacitor failed, but feared he wouldn’t get the joke.

I finished February with 9 squares from my January and February breed blanket project yarn. All 9 were knit in the last half of the month when I decided I didn’t like the way they looked in mitered squares and all the January and start of February knitting were ripped apart.

Since the March challenge requires silk in the blend and can’t be used in the blanket, the one I have chosen is nice colors, so my breeds for the blanket are undyed. I am spinning white Dorset Horn and dark brown Coopworth, enough to do 6 more squares I hope by the end of the month.

This is the BFL/Silk braid I am doing for March. I think it will look lovely woven when it is done.
My spinning start for the two challenges for March.

The other challenge has been the chicks. I think they were in transit too long in too changing weather. My initial purchase of 12 had a 1/3 loss in 24 hours. They were replaced and 3 more added for a total of 19 chicks and only 11 of them are still alive. I lost most of the Buff Orpingtons that I wanted to build my flock around this year, and I have lost a Maran, an NH Red, and an Easter egger or Olive egger, I can’t tell them apart at this point. I am almost afraid to say this, but none died last night and all look good this morning. I hope they continue to thrive. Maybe I will keep a couple of the mature hens to round out the flock to a dozen or 14. The coop can handle that many, though the older hens will be 3 years old in December and their production has already begun falling lower than their first two years, they will still provide a few eggs. I still enjoy raising them.

In a couple of weeks, I need to get the onions and the peas planted, but the garden is so wet right now. The rest of this week looks drier with some sun and moderate days, but nights in the 20’s. Next week looks more promising, so maybe I can get it done before the next round of rain begins. I wonder if the spring rains are going to provide another March challenge as the garden is started, paths re mulched, and new beds created. I need to finish granddaughter’s garden plan and get the binder for it so she can get her onions and peas planted too.

It is so fickle

The weather this time of year is so unpredictable. Mid week it was spring like, just a light sweater needed, then it snowed on Friday, but it is gone already. It rained off and on overnight Friday, most of Saturday, and is still raining, hard at times. It was supposed to reach 58 yesterday and drop only to 52 last night. It didn’t get there, but I think the current temperature is supposed to hold overnight and reach near 70 today. But we have rain in the forecast for days and they still haven’t opened our culvert at the top of the driveway, since my report in December, my call in January, and another report this month. I may have to try to dig it out with the tractor bucket which never produces good results, even if I get the opening in the right place, the pipe itself will be at least partially blocked and I lack the strength to hand dig it out.

The 5th chick, the one I didn’t think was healthy, did not survive, however the remaining 14 are hale and hearty, active, eating, drinking, and trying to see if they can jump over the sides of the brooder. I suspect that I will have to put a lid on the box sooner than I expected. Two of the little replacements look like little penguins, dark on top, white on the bottom.

Two are uniformly charcoal gray. The adults are going to be so different from the current flock. Speaking of them, egg production is finally up a bit with the lengthening days. Yesterday, I got 5 eggs, two olive, three brown, so more of the hens are laying again. That is the most I have gotten since before the molt last fall.

I finished another square for the blanket and have it wet blocked, and another nearly done. One more and I will have used all the yarn spun for it in January and February and will have 9 blocks knit, blocked, and labelled. Tomorrow starts a new month and new breeds to spin. Since the March challenge requires a silk content, it can’t be part of the blanket and is beautiful blues and purples, so I think I will spin white breeds for the blanket challenge. There won’t be a third challenge this month, it was just too complicated to keep up with and I felt like I was not fully participating to skip over all the conversation in the thread and they were a very chatty bunch. If I can’t engage fully, I will just stand away. The Jenkins group I have come to “know” and enjoy the chatter a couple times a day. There will be more time to spin, knowing that soon the garden is going to demand more of my time and spinning will become an evening or passenger in the car activity only with less time indoors to commit to it. Enough will get done to create a square or two for the blanket, but not enough to get the entire blanket done by the end of the year.