I thought I’d start by sharing a photo of our growing hens. We’re expecting sunny weather in the 60s and 70s this weekend into next week, and so with the girls going into their 5th week of life they will be transitioning to their new home. They’re mostly feathered out and the brooder is looking tight (even though it technically fits the size requirements and no one is pecking).
Last weekend we had company, my husband’s best friend and his wife, visiting from out of town. It was the first time they got to meet the baby, and with the extra hands on deck we were able to accomplish a lot on the property while also having plenty of time to catch up.
The first thing the husbands did was work on clearing a good chunk of the brush behind the house. There were a few dead trees that had been completely overtaken by grapevine and tons of wild raspberry and blackberry (both of which are delicious, don’t get me wrong – but we have over an acre of the stuff and it is incredibly invasive!). Luckily this is the kind of thing these guys love to do anyway, so they managed to have fun. The result is that we finally have a clear shot of the beautiful old willow that sits down by the creek, not to mention a gigantic pile of wood that we can either burn or chip. It’s hard to tell from the photo but the cleared area is about 20’x30’. The soil is loamy, dark, and full of worm castings – a feast for a farmer’s senses.
When the baby went down for her first nap, us wives got to work on planting the plum tree. I had already measured and staked locations so this was a pretty quick job. The peaches, due to a cold snap today, have been pushed back until April 11th. It would have been nice to get that done while we had two extra adults but we’ll manage just fine.
Although Sunday’s forecast predicted another grey day, we ended up with blue cloudless skies and the guys got an early start on the chicken coop. My husband found a good deal on a kit for up to 8 chickens that would cost less than building one from scratch, so that’s
what we went with. While we worked we saw a stoat (a.k.a. short-tailed weasel) in the nearby wood pile. They are so stinking cute but it reminded me how important it is to keep our animals safe. With a few adjustments to the coop, I’m pleased with the security. We built the coop on a frame of 2x4s with 1/2-inch hardware cloth lining the bottom. We’ll be filling the frame with sand before the girls move in. Some other mods will include hanging food and water, trays of forage, and a door for the coop. We do plan to free range (possibly with a mobile run), so for now this is a stationary set-up. My husband set up the 2×4 frame so we can add wheels in the future if we want to.
The last project for the weekend was finding a location for those two honeyberry plants I mentioned a while back. My husband and I put the baby in her carrier and walked around the property a few times, but we were stumped for a while. Finally my husband suggested adding them as edible landscape plants where they’ll receive direct sunlight for at least 6 hours (more in the summer). As these are shallow-rooted shrubs that grow 4-5 feet tall, they make for a nice foundation plant. I’m really excited about this addition to our farm because they fruit in May. This means we will have a fruit crop before strawberries in two or three years! Their flavor is supposedly like a cross between blueberry and raspberry with notes of elderberry and wine. Sounds pretty darn good to me.