Slow and steady as the days fly by
I just took the dogs out for a late night potty run and didn’t want to come back inside. It’s nearing midnight on a rainy April evening, and it’s gorgeous. The scent of spring is so invigorating, and a boost to the spirit. The apple trees are blooming out front – the cherry and plum trees finished earlier this month, and the Northwest spring riot of growth is underway for real. It’s been cold for much of the month, except when it’s not. When we get a sunny day it’s everything you could want after a long dark winter. Warm and almost prematurely sultry, as it was on Sunday, and it’s all I can do to stay on track with my stuff. And I have a lot of stuff lately.
I can barely believe it’s the end of April already! I swore I’d stay more up to date, and post at least once per week. Foosh! Where did three weeks go? I have been keeping busy, even though it seems things aren’t happening, and the time is just flying by, really I’m getting a lot accomplished. I’m bouncing all over the place with my to do list and projects, and am loving every minute of it. I am so happy here and it’s made me realize how not happy I was in the other places. Not unhappy so much as just, well, not happy.
First of all, I got some chicks. At long last, I have babies in the house again! Well, in the garage anyway. It’s been four years since I last raised babies, and it feels so great to get back on track with some new hens (babies yet, but the future flock). I got ten, and had to control myself not to get more. The feed store in Monroe – Monroe Farm & Feed – has an amazing array of chicks; not only are the sheer numbers staggering, but the variety is nearly overwhelming. I got two each of five different breeds, and could easily have gotten ten more the same way. Then there are the ducklings and goslings. Must. Resist. Until next year, anway. The chicks are radioactively cute, of course. I got them Easter weekend, so by now they’re already into the gangly, half-feathered awkwardness of early adolescence. And they are covering the entire garage with chick dust, a phenomenon of raising chicks. The only thing worse is sheet rock dust when you’re sanding the tape and mud stages. But they’re growing fast and healthy. The goofy thing is the Jersey Giants are the smallest and slowest growing. Once they mature though, I guess they’ll make up for it .
The adults hens are still in their chicken tractor, but not for long! I let them out every evening when I get home from work and most of the day on the weekends, and they’ve been rewarding me with lots of eggs. I’m getting an average of three or four eggs a day, and considering their age and housing sitch it’s amazing (there are eight hens of varying ages, none younger than four). I think they like it here too, despite the tiny housing right now. This little place has good energy and we’re all thriving on it. When I let them out they roam the entire property, ranging down the driveway under the maple (lots of leaf litter from last fall, with easy pickins), out back behind the garage and up on the hill behind the house. And of course, even with the entire property to roam, they still empty the flower beds by the front porch EVERY time they’re out. Argh! But they’ve been fearless about ranging the property, and hopefully we’ll stay safe. Of course they’re only out when I’m home, which means there’s activity on the property with me and the dogs, which hopefully keeps predators at bay. And, by the end of this week the property will be fenced!!!!
I am ridiculously thrilled about this latest development. Well, maybe not ridiculous – considering Farley’s been off the property at least four times, including twice out on the busy road out front – the angels, or luck, were with us both times. The fence posts are all in, now it’s just a matter of putting up the gates and wire. I ended up not fencing the entire property, as I don’t exactly know where the back corners are. It’s pretty rough going back there, too, wooded and steep with plenty of underbrush (some healthy groves of devils club) and downed limbs and trees. Cottonwoods, the majority of the trees back there (yes, it’s wet), are messy trees, and between them and the alders, there’s a lot of brush to clean up. Eventually. So for now I’m just cutting midway across the back and putting in a small gate so I can get out to the upper portion as needed. We’ll have all four sides fenced, encompassing the bulk of the property (I’m going to ask the fence guy what the area is), with a nice gate across the driveway, so the bird dog will be able run around to his heart’s content. Safely.
And, ta da, I also have a chicken coop built and ready for the hens. The only hold up right now is the pen, or chicken run. As I mentioned, they aren’t allowed to run loose unless I’m home, so I need a secure pen for them with the coop. I have the materials: treated 2x4s and chicken wire, I just need to pull it all together. The coop is a lovely little 8×10 shed-style built by my nephew Brendan and his buddy, Robert, of Redwood Contracting. It’s solid and well built (of course); I got the roosts in last weekend, and finished painting now it so it’s super cute. My hens deserve it after the past two years of makeshift coops in two separate homes. They’ve been in their tractor (or ark) for almost three months now, and I can’t wait to get them into their new, spacious coop. They’ve been out there in their ramblings, and when they first saw it they seemed to know it was for them, trying out their door and christening the floor. Ahh. Life is good.