Last night when I went out to lock up the chooks, I found two Buffy hens sitting on the day’s eggs in two nesting boxes. I decided to leave them alone and see if they would still be there this morning. Buffy Momma #2 is the one who tried to go broody last November and she is feisty and protective of her nest. She left long enough this morning to grab a bite of food and came right back, puffing up if I approach and pecking at my hand if I try to check under her. Buffy Momma #3 is less dedicated and can easily be chased off her nest. Late this afternoon, I ran them both off the nests to see how many eggs were there and put 10 under Momma 2, labelled with today’s date to begin the chick watch. Momma 3 only has one under her at the present, but will get any laid today and enough of tomorrow’s to put 10 under her as well and they will be labelled with tomorrow’s date. If these two Buffy Momma’s can each produce 6-8 chicks, and with the fall cull scheduled to reduce the hen flock to 8 plus Romeo, we should be able to put about 25 birds in freezer camp without having to purchase any chicks this year and without having to set up the brooder, heat lamp and related mess. We will refresh the flock with a couple of new pullets, keep a couple of the better Mommas and cull out all cockrells and older hens. This year is an experimental year to try letting our heritage girls raise all of our eggs and our meat. These birds will take at least 16 weeks to reach a size to be usable and 22 weeks to lay eggs and we will have to improve our second coop situation to make it doable, but it is another step toward producing and growing our own food.
Momma 1 brings her littles out of the chicken tractor each morning and the littles wander back and forth through the fence into the big girl’s run, out into the yard and anywhere they want, but quickly return to Momma when she calls them back. They are about a week and a half old now and very active and still curious.
In the midst of chicken and garden chores this week, two more batches of soap were made for the August festival to give them time to cure. A batch of Plantain and Comfrey infused oil was made and 8 tins of Comfrey salve prepared for our use against scrapes and insect bites and a few to sell at the festival. During the week, I also used the “Each one, Teach one” method to teach a friend soap making and lotion bar making and she went home with a mold of soap and a lotion bar of the summer recipe, one that I hope will not melt in the summer heat. Ten more tins of lotion bars are added to the festival supply as well.
Dinner tonight, even though we didn’t make it to our usual Saturday Farmers’ Market run, included fresh kale from the garden.