My mom thought that the State of the Chickens at Consecration Acres was funny as I described it to her on the phone this week—so y’all are going to get it. Grab the popcorn…or cracked corn if it feels more appropriate.
First, we have the mystery flock. You long-time readers will remember that my husband was wooed by the siren call of feed store chicks last year and picked up a dozen birds of unknown parentage. About half appear to be White Leghorns, the other half are some type of Red. One of the Reds is a rooster, the boys named him “Rudy” and he is partly rumpless. While most roosters are known for their gorgeous, flowing tailfeathers, Rudy has 3 or 4 feathers that are about that many inches long. That said, he is an excellent rooster. He and his ladies are in the original coop and run area and many of the girls flap out (volunteer free-range) during the day to go eat grass and bugs, and scratch through the goat manure, etc but Rudy always stays in the run and whenever he senses danger (hawks, cats or me) he lets out a particular squawk and suddenly chickens come running. He’ll gather them in and hide them all under the coop until the danger passes.
Second, we have the Delaware flock. This flock is headed my Long-Neck Louie who is enormous, gorgeous and a slightly less clued-in on the protection side of things, but he does typically let his ladies eat first, which is mighty gentlemanly of him. His flock consists of 6 or 7 Delaware hens and a couple Golden Comets. They spend their nights (for now) in the old ducks’ grazing pen surrounded by electric poultry net. The grazing pen is roofed with plastic aviary netting and half of that is tarped to give them a more weatherproof area. These hens have decided that the perfect place to lay eggs is between the plastic netting and the tarp, where they are all but impossible to collect. They are also all but impossible to sit on for any period of time, which is a problem as we were hoping to breed this bunch. Chickens…
Thirdly, we have the rooster that adopted us, Massasoit. He is a little bantam with feathered feet who wandered onto the property from who-knows-where and who resists all attempts at containment, yet merrily forages for his breakfast, lunch and supper and continues to survive our abundance of natural predators without nighttime protection. He has also somehow convinced two Golden Comets to live the life with him and they range all over the property together. His two girls are constantly changing their nesting area making egg collection exciting and new. I bought the Golden Comets because they are supposed to be unbeatable egg layers. Based on the size of the caches when we finally find them, they do seem to be pretty amazing. Massasoit seems completely unaware of how little he is. He has, more than once, jumped into the electronet area and challenged Long Neck Louie. Louie is roughly 4x his size. I have to say, though, he has managed to get some good pretty good swipes at him before we’ve broken them up.
And that is the State of the Chickens. It is fair to say that they rule the, uh….roost.
All right. The garden is bubbling along. The melons, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos and basil are all in. The squash are growing madly and justifying their 4’ spacing, which looked so ridiculous a couple of weeks ago. All the other stuff looks great as well, except the leeks (which look decidedly dribbly) and the spinach (which is a word that defies punning). The front porch herbs are also doing pretty well. I’m a little worried about the goldenseal. I think the sudden heat (two 90F days this week—bleagh) and the delay in planting were not a good combo. I’ll order some more in the Fall if it doesn’t make it, but I hate to lose a whole six months of growth as it is two years till harvest.
The kids are doing a bunch of planting of various things. The girls planted a bunch of seeds that they found in the garage and Elijah has been experimenting with avocado, mango and pineapples, inspired by a book on plant propagation. He also has a massive chia plant growing in a cracked crock pot base.
Now that it is May I am feeling the usual impending-babies trepidation. We’ll likely have 52 babies by the start of June!
The little girls’ radishes are getting enormous. I read this week that one can use them in place of daikon radish in Kimchi! I was shocked and disappointed that my favorite little grocery store had no chinese cabbage, otherwise I’d have a batch going already. It is really weird, but both Elijah and are craving kimchi despite never having had it. We shall (eventually) see whether or not it hits the spot.
The grass has gone from green to white this week. The local farmers had their mowing and baling scheduled right at the eleventh hour—the last baling was done this Tuesday. Stepping out into our orchard feels like stepping into another world. The glow of the grass makes it hard to see the trees or where you are stepping. Definitely past its prime for goats, but the chickens are enjoying the seeds. I will be happy with reduced feed costs where I can take them.