Funny how everytime I disappear from blogland for a while, it seems that everyone else is slowing down too. Have we all been busy with Spring Frenzy getting the planting season up and running?
There’s been far too much going on here to fit it all in, but I thought I’d post this little photo essay to show a little of what we’ve been up to. I’ve written before about our journey over these past few years: year 1 we mostly observed the property and brought some of the interior of the house up to snuff. Year 2 we re-did the raised beds and brought chickens into our lives. Here we are in year 3: we have been steadily shifting the rest of the property, which was mostly ornamental gardens, into more food production. We’ve moved shrubs, taken down trees, and built more raised beds. AND today we should be hatching out our SECOND batch of chicks with our mama Blue-Lace Red Wyandotte hen! The garden is alive and thriving (mostly), and we’ve been eating greens all of May. As of June, we’re adding turnips and new potatoes to the homestead diet, and peas and strawberries will be next…Now all we need is the heat to arrive to shift us from spring to summer! Click on any of the photos to see them in more detail.
A couple of notes about this photo: you can’t tell that these new beds overtake and use up the bit of lawn that was there before, and you can see the new hop supports towering over the whole garden!
I know I need to do a whole blog post on the Skipper’s Hop Project. A happy homebrewer, he ordered organic hop rhizomes from Left Fields Hops, which grows hops for the famous Crannog Brewery. He has, if I remember correctly, Galena, Mt Hood, Cascades, Chinook, and Centennial–good West Coast intense flavours. In year 3, hops plants reach maturity and go crazy. So Skipper has installed a 16 foot-high support system, complete with pulleys, so that they can grow in a controlled fashion and be harvested “easily.” Stay tuned for how things turn out!
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden…
The late spring crops are underway:
And in the coop behind them rests our Broody Mama Hen…
The 10-week-old crew was hatched from a mix of purchased Blue-Laced Red Wyandotte eggs (2 of which produced pullets) and our own eggs from Australorp and Silver-Laced Wyandotte hens, fertilized by a Blue-Laced Red Wyandotte Roo. We ended up with the two Silver-Laced Roo and one Australorp-cross pullet, known as Cocoa Bean. As we waited for Hen to go broody again, we wrestled with what we we would hatch out next–really the decision about where we wanted to take our flock.
Having essentially 4 breeds in a flock of 10 was not always easy, and we wanted to get down to two breeds at most. But how to choose?! In the absence of a decision, we simply collected some of our own eggs again to keep on standby just in case. When the time came, I suddenly realized that we might have inadvertently solved the problem: if our eggs were crosses of our best egg layers (the Buff Orpington and Australorps) with our favorite temperament and prettiest birds (BLR Wyandottes), the crosses might end up being the best of both worlds! So that’s what’s under Hen right now.
Report to come once the chicks arrive–stay tuned!