It's the time of year when little pops of green are starting to appear in the flower beds, and it gets me anxious for all the good things that spring and summer bring - the onset of gardening season, baby chicks, and long days spent working outside in the sun. It's been a good winter here so far, we've had generally mild temperatures and as a result the chickens have been laying well. I had plenty of farm fresh eggs for baking all the winter comfort foods. This was in part due to my winter stockpile of eggs, but there were also eggs in the nest boxes every day this winter which doesn't always happen so that's been fun. We've had more than our fair share of rain and some days have been a muddy mess, but I'm still counting pretty green eggs in the nest boxes as a win - even if they are covered in mud (or worse!)
The chicken and turkey flocks are both doing well, suprisingly so considering I kept a few more boys around than I usually would this time of year. We had an attempted hawk attack in the chicken yard a while back. It happened around the time that I was thinking of rehoming one of the two roosters that Brown Rooster fathered last year. I had been planning to keep one of Brown Rooster's sons as a future replacement for him, after all Brown Rooster is coming up on eight years old which is pretty old for a rooster. I was having trouble deciding which of his two sons to keep because they are both so handsome, but then with the attempted hawk attack I figured I may as well keep them both, after all their main job on the farm is to protect the flock, and sometimes more is better - as long as everyone can get along of course. However, Brown Rooster is not ready to share his flock with his sons, and the ladies are never very fond of the exuberant attentions of young roosters, so for the time being his two sons, Brown Junior and Red Rooster spend their days patrolling outside the fenced chicken yard and they have separate sleeping quarters next door to the rest of the flock.
We've also got an extra tom turkey in the turkey yard. Ringo is coming up on six years old this spring, and of course I hope he has several more years with us but winters can be hard on the older members of the flock, especially when they insist on sleeping outside in the cold weather so I wanted to have a backup tom in case anything should happen to Ringo. Typically I have not been able to keep two mature toms from fighting in the set-up that we have. They will fight fiercely for dominance so I've always only kept Ringo over the winter, and I've always rehomed his sons. But this fall I decided to try keeping Ringo Junior around, sensing that his temperament was pretty mellow and Ringo seemed to be tolerating him fairly well. So far so good, although now with spring around the corner the male hormones will be on the rise, fingers crossed they can keep up their good behavior!
In anticipation of seed starting this spring, the greenhouse got a new roof to let in more light. The old design had five skylights in the roof, but the roof was still more than half solid. The new roof is entirely built from a clear plastic panel which lets in so much more light. I'm excited to see the difference it will make this year! With the new roof on I decided to try starting a few cool weather seeds a bit early this year, and of course that promptly brought on the first snow storm of the winter! It's cold in the greenhouse since it isn't heated, and nothing has sprouted two weeks after I planted seeds, so the next round of seeds will be started in a sunny window in the house with a heated seed mat, and they'll move out to the greenhouse when outside temperatures warm up a bit more.
While we wait for spring to arrive I'll be occupying myself inside continuing to bake too many desserts and having fun making soap in the new hobby studio. The interior is just about finished now, there are just some remaining trim boards to go up, but the bathroom is finished and the light fixtures are hung and it's such a fun space to create in. Stay tuned for next month's blog - I'm ordering mail order chicks for the first time ever, and I will be sharing that experience with you. I have some fun breeds that I'll be adding to the flock, and by the end of the summer my egg rainbow will have a few new colors that I'm really excited about!