Monday, March 31, 2014

Good Combination

Ahh, cheese.  Who doesn't like cheese?  Well, I suppose if you are lactose-intolerant, cheese is not your friend, but otherwise, cheese!  Cheese, the staple food of life!  Ah, cheese, how I love thee.

Cheese is also very helpful if you have a surplus of eggs.  Boy, do I have a lot of eggs.  The Ladies are cranking them out left and right, which is a lovely thing to have too much of.  Luckily, I also have a stash of good cheese on hand (I do live in Wisconsin, after all).  Both of these surfeits means, it is quiche making time!

Quiche is a great combination of omelet and pie.  Who doesn't love pie? Right?  It is ridiculously simple to make quiche:  Just par-bake a pie crust in a pie plate for 10 minutes (you can even use one of those pre-made ones, it comes out just fine), and then fill with a combination of whipped eggs, half-and-half, and your favorite ingredients.  My latest quiche creation was made up of cheddar cheese, bacon, minced garlic, minced shallot, and a dash of salt and pepper.  I've made Greek-style quiches, with feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, olives and oregano.  I've made hearty sausage and mushroom quiches.  You name it, you can put it in a quiche.

Of course, you could also make a frittata with your eggs and cheese.  I've done that too...but then, it doesn't have the ambiance of PIE.  Oh, me oh my, I do love pie!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The chicks (once they are done drying off) are happily dwelling in their brooder.  Right now, they are content in the storage tub tucked inside of the old baby crib.  They have plenty of room to run about, eat their kibble, drink their water, and then pounce on each other, shrieking peeps. 

It seems like a fun life, really.

They absolutely love their heater.  I'm so happy I bit the bullet and got the EcoGlow 20 by Brinsea.  It's expensive (around $100 with shipping, compared to the usual $5 heat lamp bulb), but the peace of mind knowing it won't cause incineration of chicks and/or the house plus the very low electricity use (only 12 Watts!) is pretty great.  The chicks seem to be very comfortable, warm and calm.  When they feel chilly, they duck under the warming plate and snuggle in for a nap.  It's a lot like when chicks snuggle under their mama hen to warm up, a gentle warmth and cozy dark place to take a nap.  Without the constant glow of the heat lamp, their sleep cycles are much more consistent--no more continuous peeping in the night because they are awake due to the light.  It's kind of sweet, really, being able to tuck them at bedtime and turn off the lamp near their brooder, leaving them in the snoozy darkness.

They still think of me as their mama, and are fairly willing to let me pick them up and give them a little cuddle.  They seem to be curious about why I am so big and they are so small.  I think these are the calmest chicks I have ever raised!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pip, Pip, Hooray!

It all starts with a teeny crack in the shell, that elusive "pip" that heralds the start of the hatching process.  After a while, the pip becomes a hold, and then the hole leads to a crack, and then with a whoosh-wallop kind of ejection, out come a chick.
They really do launch themselves out their shell prison, and then lay there for a minute or two, heaving like they just ran the 100 meter dash.  The little bit of umbilical membrane attached to their bellies quickly dries and falls off in a matter of moments, leaving them free to stagger around like small drunks on a weekend waltz.  They'll stagger and peep and crash around, sending their unhatched siblings rolling every which way, and then collapse in a heap of damp fuzzy weariness.
After several hours of drying off and recovering from the traumas of hatching, these weary little souls are ready to be tucked into the brooder with their boisterous siblings.  They won't eat for a day or so, and they like to nap during much of that time, but once they find their sea legs, they are peeping hellions who love showing off and pecking for tidbits (and occasionally finding their own toes).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dreaming of Spring

The calendar and the length of daylight tells me it is spring, but it certainly doesn't feel like it.  Three mornings in a row, it has been below zero temperatures, frozen water dishes, and low woodpile woes.  This winter seems like it is just not willing to let go and be done with it.  So I surround myself with my gardening plans, packets of seeds, and emerging seedlings and try to forget that it is (1) once again really cold outside and (2) that the forecast is calling for snow today.  The robins are back, I can hear them singing in the trees, and still, it snows.  With any luck, this might count as the "third snow on a robin's back" and the weather will clear, bringing warm winds and bright days.  If not, I'll just dig a little deeper into my stash of seeds and dream of the coming spring.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Adding to the Freezer

If it warms up as expected this weekend, it is time to butcher the three young bucks from Ophelia's last litter.  They have been hanging out all winter, earning a reprieve from their date with the Big Freezer because it has been too darn cold to be outside for long.  But the time has come, and I have no more in the freezer, so that means it's time to wish them well and send them on to the great rabbit fields in the afterlife.  It's never a cheery day when its time to butcher, but it's a good day full of thoughtful care and humane harvesting of a home-grown meat source.

Rabbit is such a good meat to eat, it is rich and hearty but really accommodates itself to a wide variety of flavors.  I typically cook mine in the slow cooker/crockpot, and use a braising technique to both add richness and tenderness to the meat.  One of my favorite simple ways to cook rabbit is to pop it into the crockpot with some sliced onion and a can of ginger ale.  It's also great cooked with a bottle of beer and a slosh or two of hot sauce.  And asian-style rabbit (flavored with lemon, ginger, tamari sauce, sweet chile sauce, and sesame oil) is fantastic.  I just made that particular meal the other day, and then added leftover tidbits to a pot of pumpkin curry soup, jazzed up with coconut milk, anzasi beans and a slosh of hot sauce--perfect for a hot lunch during a long work day.

If you haven't tried rabbit, you should give it a go sometime.  The hardest part is wrapping your mind around the whole cuteness factor.  Of course, cows are pretty cute, and I'll bet you eat hamburger?  Its not much different, really, once you take off their pajamas.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clucking Away

Yes, I have become a complete weirdo but I just love how these little chicks see me as their mama.  Usually, when I urge them to try something to eat, one or two duck under my hand and hang out in the curve of my palm, almost like they are trying to snuggle close while they check out what I am offering.  So far, they have discovered greek yogurt (they liked it) and chick feed (they love it) and bits of green weedy things pulled from my seedlings (they fight over it and chase each other peeping madly).  In the next couple of days, more chicks should be hatching.  I can't wait to teach the new arrivals how delicious life is.  Tuck-tuck-tuck-tuck!

Monday, March 24, 2014


woodcut by Thomas Pennant, 1726-1798

I drive a lot (a LOT) for work, and one of the things I notice about the seasons changing is the difference in wildlife that I see on my travels.  In fall, it's all kinds of deer, small mammals like porcupines with the occasional coyote.  In winter, it's some deer, crows, and the occasional pheasant.  In spring, one of the first harbingers of changing times is the reappearance of squirrels.  Gray ones, red ones, the occasional coal black ones.  They are back in droves, racing around the verges and swarming up trees as I pass.  I'm sure they are trying to find their stash of last fall's nuts, still buried under the thick snow.  But they are back, which means it is spring, even if the weather and temperatures aren't cooperating.

I must say, I'm much more pleased about the reappearance of squirrels than I am about the reappearance of skunks.  I nearly hit one the other evening driving home from work.  Could you imagine the stench if he had sprayed the car?  Sheesh.  Everybody would have known when I arrived at work, from a mile away!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

They've Hatched!

Starting Friday afternoon, the chicks started hatching.  An ordinary miracle, happening in my house, with the first ever chicks from my own chickens...I'm just so excited about it, I can hardly stand it.  As of Saturday evening, a total of five chicks have hatched.  I've been keeping them in the incubator for a day so that they completely dry off and get that cute fuzzy-frizzy look that all chicks should have.  Once they are dry and fuzzed out, they've been happy to move into the brooder bin.  I'm so happy with the EcoGlow 20 heater that I ordered from Brinsea.  It was rather expensive ($90 including shipping), but I am so relieved to not have a heat lamp burning away.  Last year, I nearly had roasted chicks when a heat lamp fell apart but stayed lit and landed on shavings...and since these little creatures are in my house, I'm happy not to run the risk of burning up myself along with them.  They seem very calm and content to hang out under the heater so far, which is fine by me.  They are only about 24 hours old so far, and aren't too interested in eating or drinking yet, so I'm happy for them to snooze under their nice warm spot.  Later on today, I'll get a little more serious about introducing them to food.  I haven't met a chick yet that didn't become a walking appetite on stick legs, so I'm sure they'll pick it up in no time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Water, Water

Today is World Water Day.  Water is something we don't think a whole lot about here in the U.S.  I mean, we have sooooo much water that we can use it in our toilets, or bottle up in plastic and store it on a shelf, or water vast expanses of desert and make it become a golf course, right?

Not such a great use of a valuable and increasingly scarce resource.  If the drought in the western US hasn't affected you yet, just wait: all the nuts, fruit, and vegetables that won't be growing soon won't appear on grocery shelves, and what does show up will be extremely expensive. 

But why should those of us in the rest of US worry about wasteful water usage?  Well, it's a finite resource, so it behooves all of us to do a little something to conserve it and cut down on water waste in our own homes.  I'm planning to build a series of linked water barrels this spring, to harvest the gallons that shed from my roof during each spring & summer rainstorm.  With all my gardens, it can be fairly taxing to my happy well in a dry spell to water everything, so using harvested rainwater seems like a good solution to me.

Now, to track down food grade barrels for cheap...hello, Craigslist!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hello, World!

The litter of kits is doing very well, all six are fat, sassy and healthy.  Their eyes have started to open, but they are still content to stay in their nest where it is cozy and warm.  Some mornings, there's a rime of frost around the edge of nest box from their breath condensing in the cold--it's so sweet, really!
A little pig pile of fuzzy baby rabbits.  Really, there isn't much else more spring-like than that, is there?  All those pink noses and little ears just learning to stand to attention.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Dawns

Nothing is so beautiful as spring--
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush, 
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue, that blue is all in a rush
With richness, the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Spring"  1844-1889

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Every Windowsill is a Garden

With all the new seeds I've sown and tiny seedlings under the lights, some of the more established plantlets had to be moved.  Luckily, when I rearranged to fit the brooder in the other room, I wound up with a bookcase that just fit under the living room window.  So far, the leeks, sage and rosemary seem happy in their new digs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fort Knox, Chick Style

In  a few days' time, the new chicks should hatch in the incubator.  Once they dry off, they need to be placed into their brooder--basically, a safe, draft free cozy home where that can stay warm and dry and safe until they get bigger and grow some feathers.  Because the temperatures are running a bit too cool to have the brooder set-up on the porch, the chicks will get to be in the house...which poses some dilemmas with possible issues with the dogs (Max loves to lick chicks, and occasionally snarfle one up in his giant maw of doom) and the indoor cat (not much of a huntress, but you never know with this particular kitty).

Luckily, a trip to the thrift shop a while back yielded an old, scratched up crib for $10.  A couple cans of spray paint later, and part of a roll of hardware cloth, and here you have it: Chicky Fort Knox.  A couple of old window screens will go over the top, and the chicks should be safe as toast in there.  They'll start in the smaller bin--it's just easier to clean and keeps the little bitties warm and from getting lost in the corners--and then they'll move out to the crib to continue growing.  With any luck, things will get seasonable fairly quickly outdoors and they can move to the large chicken pen I use for raising young chickens, before parking them in a Coop.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fields of Onions

My future onion harvest is well underway with this flat of Yellow of Parma.  With my initial sowing, I had about an 80% germination rate, which is fairly excellent for onions.  But, I had the lights a little too high so my onions committed suicide by leaping out of their little peat pods in an effort to reach their artificial sun.

Bad, bad gardener.

Anyhoo, I lowered the lights and resowed the flat (I had lost a couple dozen little seedlings), topping everything with a thin layer of worm castings mixed with vermiculite.  It's been a couple of days, and everyone is looking much happier and the suicides have stopped.  I haven't seen any new germination from the re-seeded bits, but it takes onion seed a week or so to germinate so I'm confident I'll see all the little pods filled once again, with no premature deaths to worry about.

Nice save, gardener.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bees, Butterflies and Blooms

I was really happy to find this series on YouTube, not just because I think planting to encourage pollinators to come and visit is a good thing, but also because I am working with a local 4H club to take over the planting of a raised bed in the Community Garden.  I'm doing a presentation in a couple weeks, and I hope to convince them to help plant some bee- and butterfly-friendly plants in there.  Not only will it help draw pollinators to the Garden, but it'll also look very pretty.  Pretty is always a good thing, when the raised bed is by the signage on the main street through town.  I think a Garden looks lovely, in whatever state it may be in, but here in the land of Mow Your Lawn Short and Plant Islands of Petunias, appearance from the street is everything.  I'm sure my neighbors drive by my riotously colorful yard and shudder...but I think a pretty flower garden (with secret pollinator attraction powers) will go over well.  In any case, this video series is giving me so great ideas of plants to consider for the Bee & Butterfly garden area.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hello, Petunia.

Can you believe how tiny these sprouts are?  Sowing the seed was like sprinkling pixie dust and hoping for the best...

These small beautiful things are a mix of heirloom petunias, called "Balcony Mix" that I purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed.  It's hard to believe it now, but in a few weeks' time these little sprouts will have grown to be vining beauties three feet long or more, covered in trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of lilac, purple, and pink.  I can't wait to see the filled hanging baskets and window boxes this summer.  It will be gorgeous...and, because these are an heirloom variety, they have a sweet scent and delicious nectar that will attract all kinds of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to my yard.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Everything's Growing

It's funny, isn't it, how you can wait forever for a seed to germinate, and then suddenly, they are ready to move on to a bigger pot.  Once they hit the first true leaf size, most seedlings have used up whatever goodness was in their starting compost.  Oh, they may look small, but they typically have a root system three to four times the size of what you see above soil--and all those roots are sucking up nutrients like mad.

At that point, you need to tease them apart from the clump that grew from your scatter-sowing in a small tub, and gently separate the individual plants.  Each plant will get it's own pot.  I found a great deal on a set of 18 three-inch pots that came with a water-tight tray, and once they are filled with my homemade potting mix, the little plants are now able to grow more and more roots.  With all those roots, it won't be long before I see more stems and leaves poking up.
Just look how happy the sage is now.  It's nearly three inches tall already, and check out the cardoon.
Oh cardoon, I think I love you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get Your Wellies On

I stumbled across this fun little introductory video the other night, and I just love this gardener's quirky vintage style.  I am also envious of her red wellies and awesome outdoor kettle.  For a first video, it's quite entertaining and well filmed, both qualities I like in YouTube shows.  I'm looking forward to seeing more videos--one of her planned projects is to build a hedgehog house.  How cool would it be to live in a place where you can have a hedgehog house in your garden??

I really need to get one of those kettles.  And a pair of red wellies.  Desperately need the red wellies...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crockpot Butter Bliss

The leeks are growing, the days are lengthening, chicks are in the incubator and new kits are in the nest box.

Spring is coming right along, all things considered.  Oh, I know we're going to get more snow--March is always a snowy month--but with the longer daylight in the evenings and temperatures above zero, I can feel my spirits lift and my mind is full of spring.

Part of my spring preparations includes clearing one of the freezers on the porch.  The fruit & veg freezer is suffering rather badly from frost build up, which is making it very difficult to pull out the tubs with their treasure of frozen delights.  Its time to defrost the freezer.  Ugh.  Now that is one chore I dislike, but it must be done.  Right now, its too cold on the porch to defrost anything so I'm working on clearing out some of the fruit surplus.  This past weekend, I dug out two gallon bags of peach slices and popped them into the crock pot.  After a little defrost-cooking time on low,  I added the ingredients to make a batch of Honey-Cardamom Peach Butter.  The beautiful thing about making fruit butters in the crockpot is that you can leave them on very low (my crockpot has a "keep warm" setting) with the lid propped open with a wooden spoon, and in the morning you have a thick, rich puree ready for canning or for saving in the freezer.  My two gallon bags cooked down into two and a half pints of thick, rich peach butter--perfect over yogurt for breakfast.  I'm also planning to make an Italian Jam Crostata this week, for a simple and delicious dessert.

Now, what to do with some of those blueberries pining away in there...

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Wee Little Kits

The first babies of the Spring have arrived on the Farmlette, and boy are they cute!  Ophelia is taking wonderful care of her six fat little wrigglers.
Really, how could anyone resist those little ears?

Hello, little sausages!

They spend their days snuggled into their warm cosy nest.

Bribery: How daily checks get done.

She may have her pineapple, but she doesn't take her beady eye off me.
Have you seen anything cuter?  I mean, really.  Wee little baby bunnies in a warm and fuzzy nest.  Awww!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Another Food Documentary!

Just when you thought I wouldn't find another documentary about local food movements, tah dah!  I found one.  Funnily enough, it was an Amazon Instant Video recommendation. 

Apparently, the buyer pattern enhancement software they use actually does work.  Who knew.  You go, marketing people.  Sell me more video rentals like this one, and much fewer penile enhancements, and we'll be good.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Ahh, the weekend!  It is looking like it is going to be a warm one, highs in the 30s which means the copious amounts of snow should start disappearing.  The porch may flood (it does every year) but that's okay--I'm going to be puttering about the place happily with my wellies on if need be.

Projects for the weekend include a bit of a clean, the place is pretty dirty (it's hit that point of winter where everything is just nasty-gross-dirty) and it's getting depressing, and some cooking too.  I'm going to make a batch of carrot-fennel soup, a simply delicious concoction of carrots, fennel and orange juice which may sound like an odd addition but it just makes the whole thing sing with culinary joy.  I'm also going to pot on some lavender, savory, and other herb friends who need more space to stretch their little roots.  And if it does really warm up, I may be able to clean the rabbit cages of their frozen-on hay and other debris.  I'm hoping it is mild enough that I can open the windows and let some fresh air into the house.  It's getting quite stale in there, and I have a rather strong rotten fishy odor lingering near the plants...I watered the bigger plantlets with a weak fish emulsion a couple days ago and man does that stuff reek.  The plants are happy, though, so I guess a little stench is good for the garden.

Of course, I'm sure I'll work in some lounging time, perhaps some knitting time, and hopefully some friends-over-for-lunch time.  There is nothing quite so lovely as a lazy-ish weekend puttering around the house!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Podcast Love

from the home page...what a glorious garden!

The drifts are getting smaller, but its still going to be a while before my own garden can be planted.  It doesn't stop me from dreaming and planning and wishing for it, it's nice to have an amusing gardening podcast to tune into.  I recently discovered BBC 4's Gardeners' Question Time .  Basically, a panel of gardening experts travel to different communities in the UK, and take questions from a live audience.  Not only do they know their gardening stuff, they are hilarious and witty (so is the audience, usually).  I must admit to a certain amount of envy--they are already talking about second plantings and sowing things--but mostly, it is really interesting to listen to 45 minutes of gardening advice on a wide range of topics.  It has me contemplating some unusual additions to my Wisconsin garden, as well as trying out some new techniques with the old standards.

You can play the recorded podcast from their website, or download them from iTunes for free and listen to them on your iPod/iPad/iWhatever.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Eighteen Eggs In


Eighteen little eggs have gone into the incubator, and with luck, when I check them in a couple more days I'll see signs of successful fertilization and the start of a new chick.  I started the first eight a few days ago, and added ten more just yesterday.  It's going to be a bit of a garduated hatching.  That's okay by me, really.  I can only handle so much excitement, and a whole bunch of chicks hatching on the same day might just send me over the edge with delirious delight.  There is nothing, I tell you, nothing cuter than a new chick, warm and fuzzy with a perfect, pudgy bottom.  And the first hatch is going to happen on the first day of Spring, which I did NOT plan but which seems like a perfectly wonderful way to celebrate the day.  Pudgy fizzy chicks on the Vernal Equinox?  Don't mind if I do.

Of course, a new baby rabbit, a week old with fur on and eyes still closed...that's pretty darn cute, too.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Let There Be Cake

Ahh, the peach--a lovely dream of summer!
Sometimes, you just want cake.  Not just any cake, a really good cake.  That was where I was at the other afternoon:  I wanted a cake that tasted of summer, to combat the piles of snow and bitter cold outside my window.  Sure it was sunny and the skies were blue, but it was cold and I needed a lift.  After paging through a couple of favorite cookbooks, I found nothing I I made this recipe up.

Peach-Blueberry Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For the cake, you'll need: three cups all purpose flour; 1 teaspoon each salt, baking powder, and baking soda; 1 1/2 cups white sugar; three eggs; 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened; 3 teaspoons vanilla extract; 1 cup milk; 1 1/2 cups each of peach slices and blueberries (I had frozen and stored some this past summer).

In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside for now.

In mixer, cream butter until light in color and "fluffy".  Add sugar and cream together well.  Add eggs one at a time, beat until well combined and the mixture is fluffed again.  Now, add about a cup of the flour mixture, followed by some of the milk.  Continue in these additions until all the flour and milk is incorporated.  Then, turn the mixer on a high speed and whip the batter for five minutes (this makes it fluffy and spongy when baked.)

While the batter is getting aerated, greased and flour a 9x13 inch rectangular pan.  Once the batter is done with its rapid mixing, fold in 1 1/2 cups each of sliced peaches and blueberries.  The batter will be thick, but spread it out into the pan.  Pop into a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Set aside to cool completely, and then frost in the pan.

For the icing, you'll need: one 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened; 2 cups or so of powdered sugar; 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla; milk as needed.

Using your mixer, beat cream cheese until it becomes fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until incorporated and fluffy.  Add a bit of milk as needed to allow icing to continue to mix, if it becomes very thick.  Spread on the cooled cake and devour with happiness.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Evening T.V.

The evenings are starting a bit later these days with very welcome longer afternoons, but there's still a few hours until bedtime rolls around.  I've been revisiting the 1990s world of BBC gardening programming.  A couple episodes of Gardeners' World and a hot cup of tea, and I'm ready to curl up in bed and dream of spring days digging in the dirt and planting happy seeds.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Favorite Nursery

from St.Lawrence Nurseries web page...gorgeous!
I am a huge fan of St. Lawrence Nurseries in Potsdam, New York.  For the past several years, I've ordered trees and shrubs from them to add to my small backyard orchard.  Each order arrives in good condition, wrapped and carefully packed, full of happy bare root trees that are ready to be dug into their new homes.  All of their trees are for colder climates like mine, so if you live in USDA Zone 4 or colder, you might want to check them out.  I've had success with pretty much everything, aside from when I forgot to water or the dog peed on it perpetually.  Note: apricot trees do NOT like excessive amounts of dog pee.

I'm hoping to get my first harvests of apples and plums this year--if all goes well and we don't get late frosts again.  I can't wait to try my first Duchess apple, an heirloom variety originally from Russia.   And the Northern Blue plum should make a showing this year, I hope.  Oh how I love a blue plum!

There's still time to contact them and request a catalog (they don't have a web-based one this year), but the deadline is coming up in April so you'd better get a move on.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lazy Weekending

While I have been mildly productive in some areas (worked on a PowerPoint, made bread), it's been a nice weekend to just putter around.  Between stints of productivity, I've lounged and knitted and been watching programs like this one.  I am, as you may have guessed, a bit of a romantic.  I do like the witty silliness that is Jane Austen, and adaptations like this one make me so happy when I rediscover them.  So, take some time this weekend to pour yourself a hot cup of tea, pick up whatever craftiness you desire, and relax, maybe catch a show like this one.  Monday is just around the corner, you know.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Getting Ready

The incubator is plugged in and heating up, nearly ready for the first eggs from the Little Coop Ladies to start incubating.  With any luck, in less than a month, we'll have some brand new Buff Orpington chicks in the house!