Tag Archives: Chickens

Under the fading Wolf Moon

The last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February tend to be the most winter like in Everett, Washington. I read about snow in Robe Valley, home to us for nearly 25 years. Everett proves to be more wet than cold in 2013. We have not said good-by to the fading Wolf Moon, it could still get cold.

Still dreaming and planing

Still dreaming and planing

The Toy Box is keeping winter food ready for us. Celeriac, leeks, and kale. The hens have been resting, molting, but the occasional egg can be found in the nest box. Spring is coming but the pile of blankets on the bed tell me it is too early to plant or bring home chicks. Even so, I hear bird song on dog walks. My soul is ready to leap into farm girl life but my head tells me to rest a while longer. Maybe that is my right brain and left brain interacting. The flat of onions in the kitchen window smooths the gardening itch. Their spring green and black crowns give me something to fuss over while the days are still short and the school day is so long.

Seed from 2010, looks like the crisper drawer is a good place to store seed.

Seed from 2010, looks like the crisper drawer is a good place to store seed.

Peas will be the first seed into the garden, but not under this moon. That does not let me off the hook. The box they will live in is still full of leeks and celeriac that I hope to harvest this weekend. If I can get one of the boys to help me I’ll move the chicken tractor to that box so that the girls can work their magic. They will eat the weeds and grubs while turning and fertilizing the soil. Chickens are amazing. City birds connect me back to my roots.  Maybe while the girls do their work I’ll find the strength to turn that compost or make soil blocks for salad greens.

Anticipation

Anticipation

Season 4 coming soon. Today (February 1, 2013) at the Toy Box: Clouds still wintering overhead but not weeping. 50/36. Sunrise at 7:35, nine hours and 34 minutes later comes sunset and Sabbath at 5:09

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Spring 2012 countdown (20 days to go)

Chives

The transition is beginning. Life is showing optimism in the garden. Every shade of green has begun to assert themselves. To be sure, any green that I see in the garden today has to be tough enough to survive the last hurrah of winter. Hard frost glistens on the green leaves during the transition time. But make no mistake, spring is coming. The frogs in the pond are singing a song of praise to the creator. Birds spend their afternoon gossiping about it. I listen to their music and it ignites a gentle flame of energy in my soul.

New strawberry growth

In the Northern Hemisphere spring starts on March 20th this year. Why March 20th? On that date the daylight hours will be equal to the number of night-time hours. It is known as the equinox. In the beginning, at the creation of the sun and the moon (and the stars) YHVH/The LORD gave one of the very first commandments to creation. On the fourth day, before the creation of men, YHVH, Elohim set the moon and sun in their place. The moon to rule and light the night and the sun for the day. He decreed that these lights be for “signs and seasons,” the “genesis” of our reason for measuring seasons by the hours of the sun and moon. When the hours from sunrise to sunset are equal to the hours of night, we welcome spring.

Blueberries in bud

First I noticed the daffodils. Every year, along a path that I stop seeing, one day there will be a stand of daffodils insisting I pause to see them. They are not in bloom yet, but the promise of swollen buds bursting out of cold ground has returned. There are other earth signs. Days before I come with my tools and bucket to tidy up the herb garden the chives offer their goodness to my kitchen. Even this early, snipping them down brings more. From under the piles of straw and leaves come green spears of garlic, shallots and strawberries. I am sure the grass is growing and will soon need a trim.

Mixed greens started in January

My garden plans have been loosely made. Peas, my personal start to spring, have been pressed into the ground. There are two trays of sprouts that commute daily from my window to the porch and back. One tray of mixed greens for my late spring salads and one tray of broccoli and cauliflower to plant out come April. The compost has been turned and the trees trimmed.

Red Kale from the 2011 garden

Saint Patrick’s Day is my next big day outside. If the weather co-operates, potatoes will be started (they should be planted but often I just get around to cutting them up) on St Patty’s Day. Mel’s Mix (Square Foot Gardening planting mix) will need to be made; enough to fill the two new 4×8 boxes and maybe enough extra for my large pots of summer vegetables. The chicken run will need to be mucked out which means I might (as Ray suggested) need to start another cylinder for compost. With two smaller plastic bins of compost and one large cylinder I thought I might have enough already but those are full before I muck the chicken yard. Soon I will need to find a place for grass clippings and weeds from the herb and flower gardens. The boarders of the new gardens need to have a weed barrier laid that I can cover with beauty bark (it looks tidy that way).

Frosted cleric from 2011

Speaking of chickens, it is time to decide if I want any chicks. I can only have a total of 6 chickens in the city (four is plenty) and my girls are only a year old but I need to start thinking about eggs next year. I think I can wait another year for chicks. My girls should still lay enough eggs every week for the four of us.

Jason and I have been talking about bunnies this easter. We raised California Rabbits when we lived in Robe Valley. They are the best meat rabbits. Better than New Zealand in temperament. They are cute like a siamese kitten. If we get bunnies it would be nice to have hutches ready BEFORE we bring them home. They can live in the house for a short season like the chickens did. In fact, it is probably good to handle them like pets while they are young. Their poo is garden gold. Rabbit meat is loved by all three of my guys. I am a little worried about my terriers, Bomber and Rudy, who kill rats for a living. Actually Rudy only tries to kill them. Mostly he nips at them on the run. Bomber was created with the powerful jaw required to humanely kill a rat with one chomp. He is very good at what he does. I do not want them to mistake bunnies for rats. When I let the chickens out for a scratch in the compost they watch the girls with interest. Unfortunately they still get too excited if the girls have a fuss with each other and start flapping their wings.

Bomber reminds me of Bruce the Shark on Finding Nemo. The one who has to convince himself that “fish are our friends” and goes out of his way to prove it. But let one drop of blood enter his nostril and who he was created to be asserts itself. Bomber is that way with the nuggets. I watch him follow them about, fussing if one disappears to lay her egg, worried until once again all four are together. “Chickens are our friends.” But let them start squawking and flapping at each other and the heart of a good terrier takes over. So far he has responded quickly to my firm, “NO Bomber!” Good boy that he is.

Cole sprouts already getting "leggy"

Aquaponics has been moved back from spring to late summer but it would still be kewl if we could start a test pond of one or two barrels. Unless a killer deal for a greenhouse pops into our lap we need to wait until late summer, when hope is telling us Ray may be working again, to buy a the greenhouse. My spring fava beans, garlic and shallots have all been planted where we plan to put the greenhouse. We could sacrifice those but we are in no hurry.

Ray’s other project is bees. Not honey bees but mason bees. He has his “milky way boxes of bees” in the crisper drawer with my seed stash. We attended the free class on Mason Bees at Sunnyside Nursery last week. He has his book, an awesome web-site and starter straws. Now all we need is spring to sprong and the fruit trees to blossom to start the mason bees outside. Twenty more days.

Have rats will hunt. Bomber and his little pest Rudy

Winter Advisory in effect. Mostly that means that it is going to be really wet with a good chance of chunky rain (snow and rain mixed). That will keep the high temperature down to 46 degrees (the low is projected to be 36, cold but above freezing). As of today we get 11 hours and 5 minutes of daylight, wet and cloudy but day light none the less. Sunrise at 6:48, Sunset at 5:54. I’ll take it!

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The Chicken Master in the Snow

Think hard before you get chickens. No matter what the weather, someone has to go out and take care of them. It is worth it but there are days that you might wish you just bought a dozen eggs at the market instead of a few hens from the feed store. Still, I love having them……and Ray! Thanks Ray.

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Housekeeping

The Table: We found it at Value Village. There were 4 chairs but one was broken. Chairs are easy to find.

I sold my big table last summer. We were hoping to get enough money from a garage sale to buy a new (used) car after losing the Honda to a thief. It was not meant to be. Allstate does not consider stolen cars mayhem. Even with full coverage we did not get enough to replace a similar car. Then the Washer and Dryer quit. New elements were not doing the job in the old oven AND the transmission in the Suburban needed expensive repairs. No car, no table, no money. Balancing plates in our laps in front of the TV worked while everyone was working different shifts. I’ve missed sitting down at the table for a meal. I have not been this excited about a simple piece of furniture for a long time.

A perfect fit.

Chris talked about making a table for me. I hope he still does. But talking with him forced me to think about something I wanted to avoid. I do not like to think about what I do not have, only what I do have. Being content comes from the inside. Anytime I feel like something is missing, like meals at a table, I start seeing what I do not have instead of the abundant blessings showered upon me already.

I thought that a round table would be perfect (not very good at the content thing am I) because the dining area light is round. Chris drew up plans for a table top very much like this one. The legs on his were his own pattern that was nearly genius.

Some of the framed pictures from Robe Valley and my old Roll Top Desk

My old desk: The first furniture I ever bought was a roll top desk. It has been sitting in Chris’ room since moving to Everett. So were plastic bins of pictures. He brought them all out shortly before Christmas. After re-arranging the sitting room for a TV Ray bought the house for Channukah I was able to fit the desk and many of the pictures in a nice clutter. See all those blank spaces on the wall?

Pictures that still need a place.

There are so many more pictures that need a place to be. I’m not sure how we got so many pictures but every one is a treasure.

More goes on inside the house in January than outside. Soups and broth simmer on the stove. The scent of baking bread brightens the dark afternoon. Making our plans now that Ray is out of work gets discussed. Thank you YHVH for the table! There is still a few chores that need to be done outside during the cold, wet winter on an urban farm.

Bertha (in the box) and Lil'bit get a little time to graze before being scooted back into the Easter Basket because I get cold.

Chickens need to be tended everyday no matter what the weather. How do I know? Because I was sick in bed for 8 days and only asked the guys to feed my girls and check their water. I clean their bedding daily. After 8 days it was rank in their cute little house.

Every day I still have to go outside with a shovel to clean up after my dogs. I am SO thankful they are small dogs.

Once a week I still turn the little green compost bins. I am sure I could go longer but I like being outside. Sometime this week, maybe while Ray is out filling out all the forms a man looking for work needs to fill out, I should start some winter-sown seeds, a basket of micro greens and press together some soil cubes to start salad and greens in. I will be mad at myself come March if I skip the last task.

Volunteer Snow Peas and the Fava Beans showing signs of life.

Those fava beans I started in November are already coming up.

Fava Bean video

I am not sure if this is good or bad. I guess I’ll find out this spring. While we still have some money I got my seed orders in. That was fun. It feels like the new year is really here once I do that.

Looking for work......so I keep finding jobs for him to do. Not sure that is what he wants.

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