Category Archives: Farm Life

Spring in the Mountains

My Facebook memory from last year that appeared a few days ago was a light ground cover of snow and we had a dusting again this year just last Friday.  My memory today was a blog post from a year ago today and the weather had turned springlike, but there were no leaves showing on the trees yet.

It has been in the low 80’s day before yesterday and yesterday and mid 70’s today with seasonably cool nights and a bit of rain last night, just enough that I don’t have to water the baby trees or the veggie starts and peas.  The veggie starts have been on the back deck for several days and nights now and the houseplants have been put out on the porches for the season and to get them away from daughter’s family’s house cats that seem to like to go after several of them.

Driving home from preschool delivery, I noted the pale green haze of tiny leaves appearing up to about our elevation on the mountain so the warm winter has us a couple weeks ahead of last year.  Taking the back way home where I know the trillium bloom, the white ones are in full glory.

Trillium 2

They are such a pretty flower and protected.  They don’t grow on our property that I have found, but would love that they did.  Usually when the trillium bloom, the Virginia Bluebells bloom also.  A walk up to the mouth of the cave is in order, but with a better camera than my phone.  The photo I took last year just didn’t show the blooms and with a fence around the open mouth of the cave for safety, getting closer just isn’t going to happen.  Maybe we will not have a late frost this year, but it is always a possibility, our last frost date is the second week of May.

Last night at dusk, when the chickens were being locked up and the chicklets coop end covered, I spotted my first produce of the season.

Asparagus

A single asparagus shoot sticking up through the spoiled hay.  It was cut and eaten raw as soon as the picture was made.  While cutting it, the hay was pulled back gently from the bed and there are many more beginning to show.  There may be enough for the family for Easter dinner with ham and deviled eggs.

Today has been rest day, letting the stiff, sore back have a day off from the fencing and gardening.  The major task today has been to try to clean up my workbench so there is a place to work and to try to find a couple of missing tools that were buried under the piles of items that had been laid down instead of put away.  My tool box is actually a 5 gallon bucket with a tool apron on it that sits on the back of the bench, but SIL’s tool box is also there along with the garden bucket, 2 sprayer tanks, and two broken wind chimes.  One just needs to be restrung, the other needs new wooden disks, restringing, and a new weight to swing the chimes.  One is mine, the other is daughter’s.  Perhaps that is a job to tackle on a rainy day. The space behind the bench need a low shelf to hold the cans and tins of drill bits, locks, files, and other miscellany that don’t go into the tool bucket.  There is plenty of wood available to hang as a shelf, but no brackets in the house to hold it.  Since some gate hardware is on the shopping list, perhaps a couple of shelf brackets should be too.

With garden season here, things need to be in their places so that they can be found without having to spend a lot of time looking for them or having to purchase a new one as I had to do with the needle nose pliers to erect the fence.

Spring time on the farm in the mountains is a favorite time.  A time of new beginnings, temperatures conducive of working outdoors, flowers, and baby birds.

The New Digs

Sixteen 5+ week old chicks are just too much for the 110 gallon hard rubber water trough that they have been in for the past 5 weeks.  As few day old chicks, they looked lost in it with room for two mother tables, a 1 quart water dispenser and a 1 quart feeder and still plenty of room to run and chase.  By 3 weeks old, they needed larger dispensers for feed and water as they would go through the quart in half a day and the gallon size ones took up more room, plus by then they also needed a small container of baby grit.  Now, they are just too large, they are teenage chicklets and a couple have even escaped into the garage to be confused and terrified wondering what had happened, even though there was a window screen over the top. They needed more space.

After the morning school drop offs and the return home, a realization that they needed to be cleaned again and almost no way to do that without chicklets flying all over the place, they were caught a few at a time, place in a giant bucket, covered with a feed sack and carried over to their new digs.  Their feeder and a 3 gallon nipple water dispenser, one of their mother tables, and the pint of grit were added to their new space.

Babycoop

This coop is raised off the ground on a raft of cedar logs sitting on large rocks, covered with several inches of hay, then soil, rocks around the inside edge to further deter predators and the soil covered in a thick layer of hay.  The coop is fondly called Huck’s Coop.  I just couldn’t resist during the construction last year.

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The brooder tub had pine shavings in the floor, so the chicklets were at first unsure of the new surface, but quickly discovered it was fun to play with.

Chicklets

There is much chasing, grabbing leaves and running off with several others in pursuit to see what goody had been acquired.  A much larger space.

This coop has three perch bars and a ramp up to them where I am sure the teenagers will soon discover and will be found huddled in a tight mass at night.  Until then, they still have their familiar mother table to sit on or huddle under.  They have been in the unheated garage for more than a week now and all of them are fully feathered except for a few fuzzy heads.  For the next week, the ends of the A frame will be blocked at night to cut down on drafts.

In about a week, once they think of this coop as home, they will be let out into a spacious run enclosed with rabbit fence so they can’t squeeze out and topped with a sheet of bird net to keep the flying predators from swooping down for a meal.  They will live in this coop for about 5 or 6 weeks and then they will take over the main coop.  At about 22 weeks old, we should start seeing some pullet eggs from this crowd.  With 16 layers instead of the current 6, one hen doesn’t lay anymore, there should be plenty of eggs for our use and to share with friends and family.

If any of the big girls decide to brood this year, they will take over Huck’s coop to raise their littles.

Chores and a senior body

After two days of fence building, fence moving, laying cardboard and spoiled hay, digging weed amaranth with its deep tap root, weeding and mulching the blueberries, and trying to break up the hard section of the garden where this aging gardener foolishly drove the tractor when the ground was wet; today this body is groaning.  It was going to be a day off, but . . .  Granddaughter had the opportunity to go to preschool on her usual day off since the school will be closed Thursday, Friday, and Monday, and Jim had an appointment that I wanted to go to with him, we took her to preschool.  The appointment which should have been quick, took hours of mostly waiting around, dealing with a trainee, and finally with the professional who was very difficult to understand through her accent.  We left with just enough time to go to the post office and back to pick up granddaughter from school.

Once home, a decision was made to do what I thought was to be a fairly low energy job of collecting rocks that have bloomed to the surface during the winter and to pry out some that have protruded enough above the surface of the yard and fields that the brush hog scrapes the top of them.  This dulls the mowing blades and makes a horrible noise.   The first one to be tackled was one of the ones that just stuck up a bit too far and looked to be an easy job.  The pry bar easily went under the edge of the rock and with my weight on the bar the rock moved, but didn’t come out.  After digging under the lead edge, the tractor bucket was employed to lift it out.  Well, instead, it lifted the front wheels of the tractor off the ground.  I am a persistent old cuss and once I start something, I want it done, so more digging to get to another angle under the rock.  It finally popped up on end.

Big Rock1It seems this rock is a misplaced monolith from Stonehenge that was buried at about a 30º angle and the tractor was fighting against this.  It straightened out in the hole, but then protruded about 14 inches instead of 6.  More pushing, some digging, and the monolith finally came out of the hole.

Big Rock 2Note the bucket on the tractor is 5 feet wide.  With Jim’s help driving the tractor and me guiding , we finally managed to get it in the bucket and I think it might have been right on the weight limit edge for the hydraulics of tractor.  The monster was dropped off the cliff edge down into a rock fall in the sink hole.  Needless to say, no more rocks were tackled this afternoon, other to sit on the rocks that had been piled near the edge from moving the rock pile in the yard a few weeks ago and with Jim’s efforts too, we tossed that pile over the edge also.

Little birds

On a fun note, these little guys are some of the tiny birds that visit the feeder each day.  There is an assortment of Tufted Titmice, sparrows, wrens, finches, and Juncos that visit.  I haven’t seen but a couple of chickadees, my favorite of the little birds.  Some of the birds fly to the feeder, some sit on the deck surface and catch what gets tossed down. Such fun to watch them and they no longer fly away as soon as they spot someone in the window or door watching them.

 

 

Weekend 4/8/2017

At last post we were expecting extreme weather.  Thursday the trip to take grand daughter to pre-school rewarded us with 3 rainbow segments.

Rainbow

 

At one point it was very vivid and a near perfect arc with the end settled in the valley.  This was the first morning rainbow I have ever seen.  It was accompanied by falling temperatures and increasing wind.  It rained until late in the day when it turned to a wintry mix. Parts if the state experienced tornado activity and a lot of damage east of the mountains.

April snow

 

This was Friday morning’s greeting and it snowed off and on all day Friday.  There was snow on the mountain above us, just a dusting on the farm.  It never warmed more than a few degrees above the prior night’s low 30s.  Again last night, it was near freezing, but today it is sunny and in the low 60s.  The wind isn’t as strong as the past 48 hours, but it hasn’t fully subsided.  It was a good day to get that chick pen fencing done.  They did fine the past couple of cold nights in the unheated garage with a single mother table to warm them.  The brooder tub is much too small for their rapidly growing little bodies and they need to be moved soon.  By midweek, the days will be in the mid 70s, the nights in the upper 40s to low 50s and the chicks will be at least 5 weeks old.  If a makeshift gate to their pen can be completed, they will be moved to Huck’s coop.

Fence   Fence done

There is enough fencing left to make some sort of gate.  A hawk cover needs to be added before they can be turned loose in the pen. But they will have to spend at least a week in the closed coop to acclimate to their new, though temporary home before they can be given freedom of the run.  Once they are too large to get through the welded wire fence of the run, they will be relocated to the main coop and the old hens and Mr. Croak will be moved to the large cull coop.  I am thinking about moving the old birds this week and thoroughly cleaning the main coop, roughing up the run and planting it with the cover crop to get some green growing in their before the chicks move in.  The run could probably benefit from 5 or 6 weeks of no traffic and the oats, field peas, and vetch would grow quickly in there, it was a portion of the garden with good compost soil and it has lots of natural fertilizer that they have provided.

If the weather holds, the lower garden and the chicken run will be broken up with the long handled cultivator and the cover crop sown tomorrow and Monday.  The warm week and midweek rain should get a good start on the spring cover growing.

There are still some aisles in the garden to be mulched with cardboard and spoiled hay and plenty of cardboard still in the garage to use.

Evenings have been spent planning a vacation trip now that our passports have been renewed and back in our possession.  Hopefully, this will become an annual event.

This week, we scored two 10th row center aisle tickets to see Arlo Guthrie in concert in July.  This prompted a weekend plan and reservations made for a quick get away.

Loving life on our farm and the return of spring.

Olio – 4/4/17

Olio- a miscellaneous collection of things

We have had spring again for a few days, but winter is rearing it’s ugly head again, starting with heavy thunderstorms, wind, and possible hail tomorrow afternoon followed with near freezing nights for a couple of nights and even snow flurries on Friday.  The peas haven’t broken ground yet, but they will be covered.  The onions are up and they will be covered with spoiled hay.  The grass already needs to be mowed, almost a month before we usually have to mow.

The Asian pears are blooming, they are my favorite fruit so we are hopeful that the blooms don’t freeze.

Pear

Taking advantage of the beautiful day, we went to Lowes and found flexible corrugated nearly transparent plastic sheets that were 8 feet long and 26 inches wide, the perfect size to enclose the sides of the broody coop.  A box of screws and thirty minutes work and the coop is enclosed on the sides.

Babycoop

The baby chicks look like little dinosaurs and are nearly feathered.  If it wasn’t going to get cold, I would put them in the baby coop, but I guess they will have to wait another week before they move to bigger quarters.  While working outside, the netting over the chicken run got re-fastened to fences and long posts so it doesn’t catch in hair and flap in the wind.  Tomorrow is nice for about half a day so maybe at least part of the fencing will be installed.

My car went in for its annual inspection and she is 13 years old and just shy of 200,000 miles.  We knew going in that she needed some work.  We need new front brakes again, 4th time in 3 years, 4 new tires and an alignment, and a new starter, so this is an expensive inspection, but hopefully will keep her on the road for another 80,000 miles.

Bloodroot

The Bloodroot is blooming in profusion along our country road.  The trillium haven’t been spotted yet.

A couple of years ago, one of our vent stacks began to leak around the boot, ruining a section of our newly finished basement ceiling.  At Christmas that year, eldest son ripped the drywall off the soffit under most of the pipes in the basement and build a set of panels of wood siding and finished framing boards that can be removed by undoing a few screws once the leak was repaired.  About a  year later, we developed a leak at a different vent stack, ruining a different section.  He is going to do the same thing in that area now that the leak is repaired.  Yesterday in the torrential downpours, the original area began to leak again.  Quick work with the power driver, allowed the removal of part of that soffit so that a catch pan could be put in the ceiling until the roof can be repaired yet again.  It was nice to be able to get the soffit parts down without the being ruined.

leak

 

The old adage, “When it rains, it pours” is literal in this case and figuratively in accrued costs for the car and the roof repair.

Family Worn Out

An early start sent Jim off on the BBH to a ride, a funeral for a Hog member, and a class in preparation for the big 5 state rally that his chapter is hosting.

A bit of laundry washed and hung out, a trip into town with daughter’s family to get cat food and lunch together and then we returned home to plant trees.  They gave us an Arbor Day membership for Christmas and that comes with 10 trees.  They came a couple of weeks ago and were all deciduous trees that had to be nurseried for a couple of years before planting in their permanent places.  They are the ones that I built an extra garden box for them to live in for the two years.  That I managed on my own, then this week, the ones they ordered for us came.  A dozen various fir trees, Norway Spruce, Canadian Hemlock, and Eastern Red Cedars, a 4 foot red maple, and two Forsythia slips.  The firs needed to be planted where they will grow as they don’t transplant well.  There is a windbreak row of pines that eldest son and I planted about 9 or 10 years ago that were Earth Day twigs and are now 8 to 15 foot trees, but there are some holes in the windbreak and some holes up where we have planted live rooted Christmas trees and lost one.  There are some areas of the property that we consider yard and don’t save for hay that we have worked to reforest.  A contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.

The 5 of us (grands wanted to help dig), set out with the tractor, a couple shovels, a garden fork, a maddock, the bucket of tiny trees in water, and another bucket with water.  The maple was planted in the row of deciduous trees and then we extended the windbreak, filled in holes where trees didn’t take, moved up to the Christmas tree area and spaced out 4 others.  A total of 15 holes were dug, 15 areas cleared of sod, 15 trees and shrubs planted and watered in.  Each young tree is marked with a 4 foot pole and bright green marker flag so they don’t get mowed down when the grass grows up around them.  That took us a good bit of time.

Near one of the trees was an area that was impossible to mow, a low, partially covered rock pile.  For the past several early springs, I have loaded bucket loads of rock from that pile thinking that I was getting it low enough to mow.  We decided to finish moving the pile and man oh man it was a job bigger than we anticipated.  The pile was more extensive and deeper than appeared possible.  We moved 15 or 20 tractor buckets full of rock, used the tractor bucket to dig up at least a dozen rocks that were so large that they could only be rolled into the bucket to remove them.  Though the area is now torn up, it is rock free and smoothed as well as the tractor and our hands could manage.  I think it is going to be an area that can be mowed with the brush hog this summer.

The only remaining big job is the chick pen fence and we still have about 4 weeks to do it.  Tomorrow is going to be rainy and windy and this senior body is likely to be too sore to do much physical anyway.

I am grateful to daughter and her family for all of their hard work and help today and for getting us the trees to help with our project. Hopefully the little trees will thrive and grow quickly.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the Smithfield House at volunteer training.  Hopefully within a few weeks, I will be doing interpretative tours at the house as well as spinning on the dates that have been scheduled for it.  I think I learned more history yesterday than I ever learned in school.

Recovery Day

It seems that after a day of toil in the garden, this senior citizen needs a rest day.  Yesterday was basically a nice day, mostly cloudy, but warm, but the body said no more.

The spring cover crop seed has arrived and it needs to be planted, but the area in which it is to go must be cultivated, sown, then raked. We don’t own a tiller, nor can either of us manhandle more than a small one at this point and the only other option is to take the 3 prong cultivator and do it by hand.  It is a large area and the tractor drove back and forth over it while clearing it and moving soil for the boxes, so it is fairly compacted.  Instead of tackling it yesterday, I opted to stay in and craft.  There is a good supply of Leister Longwool fiber from Sunrise Valley Farm locally and a plan still in place to spin enough to make me a sweater from it.  The first attempt was just too heavy trying to do Fair Isle with yarn that was at least light worsted weight.  One bobbin was full of a very fine singles and another was started.  By last night, the second bobbin had been spun and the two plyed into 405.33 yards if fingering to sport weight yarn.  If knit on slightly larger needles than that weight would normally call for, I think it will be a nice draping fabric for a sweater. There is a lot more of the fiber to go and more from this year’s shearing reserved for me.  More must be spun, about 3 or more skeins that size, a pattern selected, and a decision about whether to add color, keep it natural, or dye the completed sweater.

Yarn

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In the midst of the spinning, grand daughter announced that she was old enough to learn to knit and wanted to learn to spin.  The first knitting lesson was given with her sitting between my legs and me doing the wrap while she held both ends of the circular needle, picked up the next stitch, criss-crossed the ends in the right position, let me wrap, then over the top and off the needle.  She did a row and a half before her brother came home and she wanted to go outside and play.  She is in no way ready to knit on her own, but she is eager and understands what she has to do.

Also breaking up the spinning on the Louët, making the yarn for the sweater, continued practice occurs on the great wheel.  There are still a couple of issues that a solution evades me.  The post that holds the wheel if fully set causes the wheel to drag at one point.  If it is shimmed enough to allow the clearance, it tends to pivot slightly causing the drive band to walk off.  This requires fairly constant readjustment to prevent the drive band from falling.  The mother of all that holds the quill is slightly loose in it’s mounting and even the light tension required to draft the fiber causes it to pivot slightly which can also cause the drive band to walk off.  Both of these problems need to be solved, though the process of long draw spinning and winding onto the quill is getting more consistent.

Last night the wind howled and at first light when taking grandson to the bus stop, it revealed that both row cover domes had blown off the beds.  Once both kids were dispatched to bus and preschool, a bit of repair work was done, hopefully to stay in place during today’s continued cold wind.  Tonight is supposed to drop to 24ºf (-4.44c) and though there are no sprouts yet, the beds need protection.

The plum trees still need to be planted.  Maybe after lunch.

Getting It Done

One tiny step at a time, the prep and early planting is getting done.  It warmed to above 60 after lunch with sunshine until about 3 p.m. Jim hopped on the BBH and took off on a ride, and it seemed a good day to get some more gardening done.  Yesterday never warmed and the sun disappeared early never to show again, so the garden sat idle.  The baby trees had to get in the ground.  They had to soak in a bucket of warm water for 2 to 5 hours before planting, so they were set in the bucket late this morning.

The little garden cart full of necessary tools was wheeled out, the nursery bed raked smooth and any rocks and weed clumps that were scooped up by the tractor bucket were removed and the 10 little twigs were put in good composted soil, marked with dowels with the tree type on them, watered in, and mulched down with spoiled hay. It is supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow morning, so they will get a good soaking.

Baby trees

 

The box at the top of the garden near the asparagus bed was planted with 130 yellow onion sets and the row cover dome placed over it and clipped in place with granddaughter’s help, then the lower 4 X 4′ box was planted with 5 rows of peas and also covered with row cover.

First plantings

 

More mulching between beds was done, but the weeds really haven’t started due to all the soil movement and box building and other jobs needed to be done today.  Four boxes are now planted, one with asparagus, garlic, onions, and peas.  Soon radishes and turnips can go in the ground too.

The white grape was moved against the garden fence where it will be trellised.  Some leveling of the area above the garden was done in preparation of planting one of the two plum trees, but more needs to be done.

Deconstruction was accomplished on the chick pen that had shredded plastic stapled to the sides of the coop and a 2′ high wobbly row of garden fencing not even on real fence posts with a layer of plastic bird net to keep the chicks inside.  Not secure, not high enough, and a major hassle to mow around.  The fencing was all removed and rolled to use as tree rings when the nursery trees get replanted in a year or two, the bird net and shredded plastic put in a big garbage bag to be recycled.  Mowing the thick weedy mess that had grown up between the fence and net could not be done as there was no gasoline for the mower.

Deconstruct

 

The fence line needs to be mowed short.  One fence post was set, but three more need to be relocated and set.  Once that is accomplished, the rabbit fence with tiny holes at the bottom and larger ones near the top will keep the little ones safe inside the enclosure.  The new fence is taller than the garden row that was there and some sort of protective cover will be erected to keep them safe from flying predators.  The coop is about a foot off the ground, so they can run underneath when threatened too.  A few feet outside of the old enclosure is one of our peach trees.  It would be nice if the enclosure was larger, but the big chickens killed a good sized peach tree in their run in only two years with their scratching and pecking. Perhaps the tree can be heavily mulched to keep down the weeds and a ring of the fencing around it to keep them from the roots and trunk. That would put a little shade in their pen and give them a larger enclosure to grow in until they are large enough to not get through the fence holes and their pen opened up to the cull pen.

While the work was being done, granddaughter donned her bike helmet and walked her bike up the hill near the garden and rode down and around the back of the house over and over.

Rider

 

If the rain stops in the morning, perhaps the leveling of the area above the garden will continue, the plum trees planted, and if the gasoline is purchased, then the weeds can be mowed in the fence line in preparation for setting the new fence for the baby birds when they are ready to go outside in another 4 or 5 weeks.  The sides of the coop still need to be enclosed and the nesting boxes mounted inside.

The bluebird box also still needs to be mounted on it’s post, maybe in a different part of the garden from the existing one.

 

 

Come on spring

Saturday mornings are always breakfast out followed by Farmers’ Market if we are in town and well.  Today started out beautiful, a tad cool, but with a day that reached 60ºf by mid day.  We followed our usual routine then set out to see about getting the last garden box.  After getting the prior one, the first 4 X 8′ model, because of the possible designs, it had 6 extra boards if assembled in the manner of the other ones.  The corner posts a bit higher, but that is okay.  I decided to buy another 4 x 8′ one so that there were 12 extra boards total and with some 2 x 2″ boards that could be cut into corner posts, an extra box could be made.  Though the vegetable garden plan doesn’t require it, the new tiny trees should be put in a tree nursery for a year or two, so the extra box will fill that bill.  While we were out getting the box, another two stops were planned to get the wire hooks to fasten the fence to the posts for the chick pen and to get enough row cover to be able to plant the two 4 foot square boxes for onion sets and peas.  We found plum trees about 4 feet high and since they have been in the orchard plan, two of them came home with us too.

After heavy rain last night, the garden soil was wet and heavy, but with the tractor’s help, enough good composted soil was gather to fill the two new boxes.

beds

The kit bed, nearest left was assembled, the soil spread and raked, but it was too wet to do too much with and a thunderstorm arrived while the work was being done.  Inside, the two flats of seedling blocks were set up, the tomatoes, tomatillos, and hot peppers sown in one, the chard, parsley, and cilantro in the other.  The garden still needs a few sweet peppers and some other herbs, beside those two and the basil that has such a short germination time that it will have to wait.  There are still some seedling cubes that can be sown, so the other seed will be sought tomorrow if we go into town.

seeds

Once done with that, the storm had passed enough to go out and assemble the non kit box, but again the rain started, so the soil is just heaped in the middle of the box.

Tomorrow isn’t to be as warm, but will be sunny, so the tiny trees, plum trees, onion sets, and peas will all be planted.  the row cover frames were put in place today and the peas and onions will be covered until it is warm enough to leave them to the elements and the peas need trellising.

There is still some cardboard to put down between boxes and mulched, the three sisters garden bed needs to be prepped when the soil is drier and the rest raked for the preparation to seed the spring cover crop that will have oats and field peas that later will be harvested for making chicken feed.  That cover will also have either a row of flowers for the bees and butterflies or perhaps randomly sown within the cover.  The garlic that looked a bit beat up after the deep freeze, appears to have perked up some.

The daffodils in town near the market are beginning to perk back up, so they seem to have survived the cold as well.

Olio-Week’s end-March 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This bitter week is winding down.  Last night was hopefully the last night in the teens that we will experience this winter.  Spring on the calendar is but three days away.  The garden planner alert today was to plant the peas and onions under cover outside and start the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos inside.  The cover fabric from prior years is gone so a trip to Harmony Organics in town is necessary to procure more for the two boxes.  The garlic looks like it suffered some damage from the cold, but hopefully it will perk back up with the milder weather.  The daffodils in town are all laying face down on the ground,  the forsythia, ornamental fruit trees in town are all browned, our peach tree lost it’s blooms.  Our forsythia had not bloomed yet, so we may see some of the sunny yellow soon. The weekend is to be milder and Tuesday actually making it into the low 60’s, so some garden time is in order this weekend and early next week.

For Christmas, daughter’s family gave us an Arbor Day membership which provides 10 young trees, plus an additional purchase for our windbreak and flowering shrubs for the driveway bank.  Yesterday, the first of those young trees arrived and they must be put in the ground within a couple of days of arrival.  The suggestion is to put them in a garden area for a year or two to let them begin to establish fibrous roots and gain some size before planting them in the location of choice.  I guess that is going to make part of the lower garden a tree nursery for now, a good use for that otherwise not in use area.  The tree planting helps reduce our carbon footprint and is helping to re establish some areas of woodlot on the farm, where we need a buffer or where it is too rocky to mow.

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The cold weather brought many birds to the feeder and to the deck to clean up the spilled seed.  Feeding the neighborhood birds and trying to foil the squirrels was an enjoyable pastime when we lived in the suburbs on the coast.  With bear in this area, a feeder has been absent for the past decade, but a small cage feeder was hung outside of the kitchen window this winter, high off the ground and it has been enjoyable to see the fearless little birds feasting.  Granddaughter observed this morning while watching them during breakfast, that the chicks in the brooder are the same size as the little finches, juncos, and titmice.

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The daylight saving time change last weekend has school bus delivery back in the early morning with the sun just peeking over the ridge while we wait.  Once home and on to do the chicken chores, it can be seen over the ridge, but not yet over the trees and with no leaf cover yet, it creates an interesting morning view.

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Shooting directly into the sunrise it looks like the sun is shining through the ridge.

The brooder chicks are thriving, growing little wing feathers and boldly hopping up on the heat table to check out the world.

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Fortunately, the screen on top should prevent any fly outs that are inevitable in another week or so.  The outside brooder coop needs a new layer of straw, the brooder nest boxes mounted inside, the sides covered for protection and the pen surrounding to have the new rabbit fencing installed to keep the littles in and the bigger critters out.  It will be time to move them outside in just a few short weeks.  Hopefully these littles will be grown enough for the big girl coop about the time brooder season starts and the great chicken shuffle begins.  The littles will become the layer flock with the Americauna and the half breed, the broodys will go to the brooder coop  and any remaining older hens and Mr. Croak will go to the cull coop where they will live for the summer and as this year’s chicks get large enough, they will be moved to the cull coop as well to provide our families with chicken for the winter.  One young cockerel will move in with the young pullets to be next year’s rooster.  This year’s brooder chicks will be out layers for the next couple of years before they are replaced with new young.

We love our little farm and the chores help keep us young.