I fall in love with the farm all over again at this time of year. The new life and promise of what is to come during the spring and summer months ahead fills me with so much happiness. The to-do list is long, and I often find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to balance the things that I need to do, like working my money-making job and keeping up with my hobby soap business, and all of the garden and chicken projects that also need to take priority at this time of year. It's at times like this that I try to remind myself that everything doesn't need to get done today, and I give myself permission to just sit and enjoy spending time with the chickens.
The new chicks that I wrote about in my last blog are two months old already. There were a few weeks where I worried that a few may be roosters. Even though I purchased female chicks, it's not uncommon to end up with a surprise rooster every now and then. I am feeling pretty confident that two of the chicks I was worried about, the blue splash Marans, are just big boned ;) which I'm really happy about since they are really sweet and are two of my favorite new lap chickens. Another one that I was worried about being a rooster because it's always jumping upon my shoulder I think is also a hen of one of the more active breeds that I ordered and is a fun one already. The chicks are feathering in with their adult feather colors and patterns, and there are several really beautiful breeds and a few with great feather hats that will be lovely flock additions. My plan is to put the four chickens of the flightier breeds (Silver Spangled Hamburg, Blue Andalusian, and Patridge Penedesenca) in the turkey yard to give my two silkie roosters more company, and the other eight ladies will join the main chicken flock in the backyard. It will still be several weeks before I integrate the new younger ladies with the big girls, so for now I'm trying to get in all of the lap chicken training sessions I can to ensure the girls stay friendly when they grow up and have a much bigger area to roam.
In other feather family news, my elder tom turkey Ringo and his son Ringo Junior have been getting along fairly well. Ringo Jr. gives Ringo a pretty wide berth, and now that Ringo is six years old he is not quite as interested in fighting as he was as a younger tom. This is the first time that I've been able to keep two tom turkeys in our set-up. Ringo chases Ringo Jr. away from the ladies every chance he gets, and I don't think Ringo Junior has managed to get himself any girlfriends yet, although it's not for lack of trying. It's sure been fun seeing both boys putting on their beautiful courtship displays, and of course I love hearing their synchronized gobbles every time someone comes up the driveway.
Several chickens and turkeys have gone broody and are camped out in the nest boxes hoping to hatch babies, although I'm pretty sure we are done with adding new chicks for the year. We have plenty of eggs and roosters, which are the two signs that you don't need more baby chicks! We are getting lots of eggs, a dozen or so a day from the chickens, and the turkeys are laying three or four of their lovely speckled eggs a day as well. When the 12 new girls start laying eggs later this summer, my egg basket will really be overflowing. Brown Rooster's two sons from last summer, Brown Junior and Red, are still with us and are doing a great job patrolling the perimeter of the chicken yard from outside the fence. They are eager to join the flock, although for the sake of less drama I'm still keeping them living the bachelor life for now. Brown Rooster is eight years old, and I'd like to keep him enjoying his position as head rooster of the flock without the need to constantly defend his position as would be the case if I let his sons join the flock. They'll get their chance one day, after Brown Rooster leaves us, although he's showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The greenhouse is overflowing with seedlings, and I'm waiting for the nighttime temperatures to warm up a little bit more before I transplant the warm season veggies. The cool season veggies - peas, lettuce, kale, chard, broccoli, and onions are already planted. I'm really excited to get my Three Sisters garden in with the rainbow glass gem popcorn and pretty speckled maroon and white Good Mother stallard beans that I saved from last year's garden. Another fun thing I will be growing this year is a bed filled with a variety of colorful peppers including several varieties sent to me by a good friend in Sweden. I had so much trouble starting my pepper seeds last spring due to our typically cool spring weather, so this year I decided to try heated seed mats, and it made such a big difference in reducing the germination time as well as in the germination rate. My pepper seedlings are looking really strong, and I'm hoping to have a colorful pepper harvest this summer! I hope your spring is off to a good start, and if you are looking for a Mother's Day gift my soap shop is fully stocked!