Waiting for the Sun
We’ve been through all of the phases of winter here at the farm – cold frosty mornings, wind storms, snow storms, and lots and lots of rain, and we are all anxiously waiting for the sun to return. After the recent snow melted, we had several very rainy weeks. The ground is saturated and muddy, and the grass in the pasture is getting chewed down pretty short by now. On the days when the rain stops for a bit and we do get some sun, the ladies are out and about, munching on grass and foraging for the occasional bug or earthworm. But it’s not uncommon for me to look out the window and see only the most intrepid of foragers out it the rain. The turkeys and Ramon’s ladies are usually outside no matter what the weather, but many of the girls and even Ramon and Brown Rooster prefer to spend the rainy days hunkered down inside the coop, under the coop, or wherever they can find shelter and get some peace away from the turkeys. I can only assume that when I found Ramon perched in the rafter of the coop one morning, it was because of the turkeys. The turkeys and the chickens get along most of the time, but the turkeys can be bossy, and they do love a good chicken chase now and again.
The eggs are few and far between over the winter, and I actually had to buy a dozen eggs from the store a couple of weeks ago. Despite buying organic, cage free eggs, the store bought eggs paled in comparison to our ladies lovely eggs. Commercial egg producers provide artificial lighting in their chicken coops to increase the number of eggs their chickens lay over the winter. A hen’s egg laying cycle is related to the number of hours of daylight she receives per day, so artificially increasing the amount of daylight a chicken receives means that she will be stimulated to lay more eggs. We let the ladies take the winter off from egg laying, as nature intended, so that means from November through January we only get a couple of eggs a day if we are lucky. Now that the days are gradually lengthening, a few more of the ladies are starting to lay again. It’s definitely worth the wait for their large to extra large eggs with their lovely orange yolks, and it shouldn’t be too much longer before we will have enough to sell again.
There are signs that spring is around the corner. On the occasional sunny day, the bees can be seen coming and going from the beehives, and it’s always a thrill to see activity outside the beehives again and know that the bees have survived the cold, damp winter. Our turkey hens, Eleanor and Prudence, have been exhibiting some different behaviors recently which I’m thinking means they will be ready to mate soon, and it won’t be too much longer before we have turkey eggs. I have never tried a turkey egg, but I am looking forward to it. In addition to the eggshell having a beautiful speckled pattern, I have read that turkey eggs are rich and delicious and are especially good for baking because they give a light and fluffy texture to baked goods. We are drawing up plans for a small nesting house for the turkeys in hopes that one of them will go broody and raise a batch of turkey poults for us. So although we are all waiting for the sun, I have a feeling that no one is waiting for it more anxiously than me!