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Archive for the ‘chickens’ Category

Last week as Midori and I watch the chickens squabble over kitchen scraps, I heard footsteps up the drive behind me.   My parents were gone grocery shopping and my husband was at work, could they have come back already?  I whirled around to see a man walking around the driveway scoping out our outbuildings.  I hid Midori in her stroller in a clump of sassafras saplings, praying under my breath that she’d be content to watch the chickens and wouldn’t start to cry.  As I walked up the path from the chicken house I imagined all sorts of horrible things, why was this person here?  Was he going to try and rob me, rape me?  I could see the man more clearly now; he was tall and slightly overweight, middle aged and shabby looking.  I remembered the oak walking stick Stuart left by the Siberian Elm tree to dry.  I knew if he made a move I’d go for it.  I doubt I could fight him off, but I wouldn’t go down easy.

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The chicks have broken free of their small blue plastic world; the kiddy pool can hold them no more.  As of yesterday they officially have the run of the front porch.  At least it’s concrete so it should be easy to clean after we move them to their permanent shelter.  The downside to this arrangement is that our bedroom shares a wall and two windows with the now enclosed front porch.  This has led to some sleepless nights as the chicks twitter and scratch.  Now that they’ve grown their primary feather in, they can fly up to the windowsills and peck at the glass.  It’s like having little annoying solicitors calling at hours of the day (and night). 

 Hopefully the chickens can move into their new house soon, until then we bought a bale of straw for bedding.  Still, it just seems so wrong to have livestock on your front porch.  We went into the feed store; luckily they had one bail left.  It was much larger than I remembered and would not fit into the trunk of our small compact car.  It would have sat nicely in the back seat but we brought Midori with us, so the only place we could squeeze it was in the front, completely obscuring the rear-view mirror and the entire right side of the car.  This left Stuart about ten inches in which to wedge himself into.  The drive home was interesting; I could see people staring at us in wonder.  I think they were all wondering why we didn’t just use our truck.        

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Every article about homesteading states in no uncertain terms that it’s really best to ease into the lifestyle; that getting too many animals at once, starting too big a garden is just a recipe for disaster.  And every would-be homesteader reads this well founded advice and agrees wholeheartedly that it applies to everyone but themselves.  I was no exception, but now as the twenty nine chicks rattle around my front porch in a plastic kiddy swimming pool, I begin to see the wisdom in this advice. 

Stuart and I bought a mix of twenty five egg laying breed pullets from a hatchery as well as three brahma roosters (three just in case one or two died as chicks) and received a free rare breed chick to boot.  We really didn’t want this many chickens to start out with but we thought that buying from a hatchery was our only option and you must buy at least twenty-five chicks at the same time if they’re to be shipped any distance.  About a week after we ordered our flock, we went to a feed store to buy the requisite heat lamp, feeder and waterer.  Much to our surprise we found they had chicks (Brahmas, egg layer mixes and banties) for sale too, with a minimum purchase of five.  It would have been much simpler to buy five or six to start out with, but we didn’t realize this was an option.  So now we have a mess of chickens and will likely have more eggs than we will know what to do with, unless the raccoons or feral dogs get to them first which is entirely possible.

 

Then there is the garden.  We gleefully ordered seeds from seedsavers.org imagining our massive perfect garden.  Now looking at our half shaded two acres it’s clear that we don’t have a good place for a big garden at all.  The one place that would have worked in a pinch was the front of the side yard, but it’s a remnant prairie and I can’t ask Stu to plow it up.  A little farther back is about half sun, the largest portion of sun being in the afternoon.  We’re going to plant the melons, zucchini, peas and beans there and the amaranth, corn, and sunflowers, up in front of the house where it’s sunny.  We already planted an apple tree, rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries in the front.  They’re doing well so far but it’s kind of depressing not to have one spot that’s just food garden.  I think that breaking the garden up like this might make more work later on and will leave the unfenced front garden open to rabbits and deer.  But it will have to work because it’s what we can do at the moment. 

The problem with buying an old farm house just before spring is that there are so many projects that need to be finished on the house itself that it leaves little time for gardening or tending livestock.  In our case there are bird nests in the eaves, a well that needs redrilling, windows that need screens, basement concrete that needs patching and a myriad of other things.  Not to mention boxes that need unpacking.  I really feel stressed sometimes and I wish I would have waited on the chickens.  We don’t even have a proper coop built for them yet…

           

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