Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another lovely Saturday...

It must be a carry-over from elementary school, but I do love Saturdays. It doesn't matter if they are grey and cloudy, or if there is sun. It doesn't matter if I am so busy running errands, or just sitting drinking coffee and puttering about the house. Saturday is the BEST day of the week! Too bad there is just one of them. Today has been one of the puttering type of Saturdays, which is nice because last week was the running-around variety. I've been able to hang out some blankets and sheets to dry in the wind & sun, and I gave my bedroom a little bit of a spring clean. Well, I still have to dust, but the floors are tidy and I changed the linens.

We had a little rain last night, not enough to make it so I don't need to water, but enough that the air smells fresh and clean. The garden is doing well--the corn, pumpkins, winter squash, and some carrots have all sprouted. No sign of the cucumbers yet, but I am sure they will appear soon. The potato plants are doing great--almost high enough for me to add another layer of dirt and straw mix! All nine black pullets are in the coop and very happy. I need to figure out how to get the hen run door to open and close a little more easily. Yesterday, I picked up a small pulley and hook, so I will work on that this afternoon. I am hoping to find some old sheets at yard sales today--I finished my first rag rug and I am thoroughly addicted. What a fun new craft! The photo came out fairly well--it is a little wavy and won't lie flat, but since it squishes flat when I walk on it I think it will flatten out in time. I really like how the colors came out. Of course, for a first endeavor it was fairly expensive (I bought new fabric for the class I took) but now that I know the technique and I can use "old" cottons, I think I can make many more rugs for much less money. My new garage finally arrived on Thursday. My neighbor had a gray canvas hut that he had stored his boat in, and no longer needed since they rebuilt their garage, so I bought it for $200 and he and some cousins moved it into my yard on Thursday evening. I am hoping to buy some firewood for the backyard fire pit and store it in there--there's plenty of room for the car AND stuff! It is always nice when things work out to be dual-purpose, isn't it?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pumpkins are up!

How very exciting! The pumpkin seeds have finally sprouted. I already have lettuce and rutabega seedlings peeking up. No carrots, corn, or winter squash yet. And, the transplanted tomatoes, brocolli and herbs are all looking happy. Finally got around to potting the lemon verbena, rosemary, oregano and lavender plants this morning. It has been a lovely Sunday so far--warm and sunny--with the majority of my yard work and clean-up on the porch completed. I do have to say, I am a little concerned by all the darn yellow jackets that I keep encountering. I don't know where the dang nest is yet, but I am sure it is in some inaccessible location. I hate those damn things!! Honeybees I don't mind, since they are happy and busy and working to make something delightful. But hornets, now...they only seem to exist to be bitchy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Processing Day

Well, today was the day: The 19 chickens and 5 old hens became future dinners. Just think! Roasted hens, fried chickens, chicken and dumplings, chicken stew, chicken fajitas, chicken hash. And all from my own growing and caretaking! I still find it surprising, that I have grown meat. The processing plant was very tidy and a small family-run operation. I stuck around and worked on a rag rug in the car while the processing was happening. Okay, so I admit: It was fairly creepy to hear my little chickens sqwak-sqwak-sqwaking and then becoming decidedly silent. But, it was a quick transition and the folks that were doing the job were very nice and obviously didn't want to prolong the pain. And the tidy little packages definitely are helping to fill my freezer! Each of the meat chickens was about 4-5 pounds, while the old hens were much smaller (most only 1-3 pounds). I think they will ALL be delicious!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Late video, but here it is!

So, things got a little busy and I didn't get to post this last week. The chicks are now 7 1/2 weeks old. Tomorrow, they go to the processing plant and get "processed". I am a little sad about that--it is hard to say goodbye to any living creature--but the idea that I have grown my own meat is pretty cool. At one time, all I had wanted to do was to grow some vegetables in a pot or two. Then, I got chickens and started "growing" eggs. It is pretty incredible to think, in 8 weeks I have grown 19 chickens ready for the grill, oven or frying pan. I am also "processing" 5 hens that have become irratic layers. Some days they lay, most days they don't. It is very frustrating, so they will move on to their next purpose: Becoming delicious stewed chickens for coq a vin, chicken & dumplings, or wonderful, slow cooked soups. I like to think that they have led a happy life. They certainly have had a great diet!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rainy Day in May

Lucky me, spending a day at home attending a virtual conference and whiling away a rainy day. The garden seems happy for the rain, with a new crop of weeds sprouting as I type. I put the two adult Black Star hens in the portable coop and they are very happy to weed around the vegetable garden. On Saturday, they each laid two eggs but only two actually had shells.
I've planted sweet corn, pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, lettuce and rutabegas in the garden so far. I can't wait until it warms up a bit more at night and then I can put in the brocolli and tomato plants. Once the corn comes up, I'll plant the scarlet runner beans so they can climb up the stalks. Hopefully, the three sisters planting technique will be successful in my garden: the pumpkin vines should shade the roots and provide protection from predators; the beans fix nitrogen in the soil and provide structural support to the corn; the corn provides a support for the bean vines and shades the pumpkin plants from the summer sun.
My herb garden is weeded now, and looks happy. I think most of my mints survived the winter, which is nice, and my thyme is doing wonderfully. I have 12 basil plants, cilantro, flat leaf italian parsley, red thyme, bee balm, lemon balm and oregano to add to the bed. I also found a rosemary plant and a lavendar plant to grow in pots. I am still hopefully that I will find a bay tree, which will grow indoors in the winter along with the rosemary and lavendar. I am looking forward to having fresh bay leaves to add to soups and stews, and making my own herbes de Provence blend. Yum yum!
Aside from catching up on technical data and case studies, I love days like this because it allows me to do some baking and cooking that is hard to get done mid-week. I plan to roast a chicken for dinner, and prep some bread dough. Maybe I will make some kind of yummy bar with fresh rhubarb from the garden! Ahh, rainy days. How I love you!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chicks at 4 weeks

So, as you can see from the video, the girls are growing and are getting spunky. I think I might need to round up something to act as a roosting post so the little black ones can get up on something at night. The huge white ones don't have any motivation to roost--too far from the feed bin!

Finally it is warming up around here! My newly planted strawberries are starting to pop out little green leaves, the apple trees are unfurling little leaves and buds, and (glory of glories!) the maple tree I planted in the back yard did NOT DIE over the winter! This afternoon, worked finished early so I worked in the veg garden for a bit. Managed to get the dirt ready to go in the new bed for corn/beans/squash and even planted a couple hills of pumpkins. I am hoping that the three sisters technique actually works in my garden. I suppose I will find out.

Moved the two large hens to the "summer chicken chalet" by the garden. They are so happy, eating all sorts of green grass and dandelions around the edge of the garden. Don't worry--they are contained in a portable yard so they can't leap out and eat my goodies growing in the garden. I am hoping that they will be good weed and pest control this summer. Anything (not Round-Up!) that can keep that darn Creeping Charlie in check will be very welcome!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Starting the Great Adventure

So, since Chicken Mama's Blog will soon be no more (thanks, geocities!), we shall start again here!

Current events in the Chicken Lady's world:

27 chicks on the porch--now 4 weeks old and very smelly. Really gotta clean that corral this afternoon....phew!

Gardening is having a slow start. It has been chilly, and frosty, so nothing is in the ground yet aside for a couple of apple trees, some strawberries, and blueberries. My wiegela got nuked by a sudden frost, the first plant loss of the season. Oh I get to plot something else to plant!

Dogs and cats are all doing well. No goats or sheep, as yet, although I am pondering: Do I need a couple of Angora rabbits?