Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Brings...

Our new chicks arrived this past Thursday.
Eight at the moment and two more to arrive in May. When River saw them she became so excited she was actually trembling.
This will bring our chicken flock up to eighteen. I'm also on the lookout for a few more Muscovy ducks to add to the three we already have and I've decided that one should be a drake. I've been noticing one of the duck hens has become very protective of their eggs and I believe she is preparing a nest. I had noticed lots of downy white feathers in the nest they lay in and this morning I watched as she repeatedly plucked them from her underside to fill the nest. We also have a chicken hen that spent all of last summer attempting to hatch any egg she could get under her. I think we'll need a rooster around anyway, to thwart the drake's possible advances on the chicken hens.
Currently we have more eggs than we know what to do with. Frittata, anyone?My hope is we can sell some once the babies are older and laying and perhaps have some Muscovy ducklings for sell, as well.
I'm enjoying these things spring brings, even if the weather is not cooperating. It's been raining the past several days and after today (clear!) it's supposed to rain on for at least another three. It's cold and wet and really hard to get things prepped for planting outside. We bought a small greenhouse over the weekend and we're going to spend this one dry day getting it put together. I've got seed trays hanging around all over the kitchen and dining room and not enough light or heat to really get them going well, so I'm looking forward to getting it up. Speaking of which... I'm off to work!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring...So far

We got a big jump on spring chores this weekend and it's fair to say I am totally and entirely exhausted. But, it was really nice to get outside and really kick things off.
Miss Rosemary finally got that trim and, lo and behold, she has eyes! Look at that, I really think she's smiling.
More pruning.
Shoveling manure, now I just have to till up the ground and get it in there. Tomorrow...
Reseeding grazing land. We also spent many hours this weekend locating and marking the borders of our property so we know exactly how far we can take our fencing. In the end we decided we can have at least 4 more sheep. Probably could do more but we also want a couple of itty bitty goats.

You know what they say about the grass always being greener.... They're sick of hay and who could blame them. Just a little bit yet and their pasture will be reseeded and we'll have more fencing up for them.
So how about you? How did spend this beautiful equinox?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Breaking Ground

We started work in the gardens over the weekend. Early spring I could just work out there all day, no heat setting in yet. The girls were eager to help us. We got this front area (pictured) free of weeds, cut back the old monkey grass in the shaded garden and pulled out a ton more from the front strip. My aunt lived with us several years ago and went crazy planting the stuff, and I really don't care for it at all. We left some but in front of the house is was beginning to take over and I pulled it all out to put in some cutting flowers.
We have a little space here and a little space there, empty spots, hodge podge all around the house. So the plan is to put cutting flowers in the front and side piece and vegetables in the back. Most of the back is reserved for the sheep, alas, so we're fitting beds in wherever we can. I am hoping to be able to plant enough cutting flowers to be able to take some bouquets with me to the farmer's market this year, maybe some herbs as well.

I've gotta say, it feels so great to be getting outside, without jackets as Kaiya points out, and breaking ground on the spring and summer work. I hope to actually get some planting done tomorrow and the garden will really be on it's way!
On a side note, I have decided that the white duck is actually a hen... three hens = no baby ducks but it does mean more eggs. Though, I believe they have begun hiding them from me. They were laying in the sheep shed, in their hay no less. For several days we got three duck eggs a day (which is how I figured on the third hen) and now maybe one, maybe none. I know they won't all lay every day but it's been dwindling and now down to zero. Though, I don't know what they think they're going to do with them without a drake around to fertilize. Looks like I'm in for a pre-Easter egg hunt.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Duck Eggs and Rainy Days

Our ducks live in the hen house with our chickens. They hatched last Easter so we've eagerly been awaiting their first eggs. Not actually knowing what duck eggs look or taste like we have wondered about many eggs that have been picked up lately. Some that were lain in odd places, some rather large and some strangely smooth. Well, they all tasted the same, regardless so we were unsure if any were from the ducks or just regular, old chicken eggs. That is, until my dad presented these three to me this morning.
They are an off white, yellowish color and large. These had to be ducks eggs! Now on to the taste test. I scrambled them right away for breakfast. They were harder to crack, mostly because of the tough membrane just under the shell. Much harder to puncture than chicken eggs. As I beat them with the egg whisk I noted they had a very large and thick yolk that took some beating to blend. While frying they didn't lump and clump into nice bites as chicken eggs do, but rather they stayed... kind of mushy and smooth. Really, I had difficulty even telling when they were done. But, the taste and texture was a very nice surprise. Very smooth and delicate on both counts. My parents were here for the inaugural meal and we and girls passed the plate around enjoying every bite. Sound good? We thought so too and have decided there are more Muscovy ducks in our future.
Thank you lady ducks! I am quite sure they came from at least one of the two all brown ones.
And I am still pretty convinced this is still a fella as he exhibits rooster like behaviour (I've never had ducks before, drakes or hens so chickens are my only basis of comparison).
I also just had to share a couple of pics of my sweet Rosemary from this morning. It has been raining non-stop for the past couple of days. Why they don't take shelter in their nice, dry shed is beyond me but I had to laugh when I saw her this morning. She's the one in the front. Her fleece is much longer and covers her face and eyes quite a bit. It's so comical the way the rain has weighted the wool down over her ears, like pom-poms on the side of her head!
It's supposed to be dry beginning tomorrow and I'll give her another trim so she can see. Poor thing. I've not had to trim Finn once, though.

And one more thing to share; all this rain has inspired me!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Here is a moment in time to savor. My two oldest girls, nestled together, mutually enjoying their book, giggling. Right now, though, I'm not hearing giggling or whispering but playing frequently intermingled with shrieks and furious cries of threats and accusations. They have been fighting all day. Most days, lately, the house is filled with their fighting. Such is life of sisters...? This is a really difficult way to be. Ill feelings and words and crying and the yelling... Almost too much for this mama.
Kaiya and Zoe are spaced 21 months apart. On the plus side, they are a wonderful age to play together and at times they can be wonderful friends. On the flip side they want the same toys and fight for them bitterly. They both love imaginative play but each wants to boss and dominate and neither wants to give an inch. And sometimes one is standing too near or looking at the other or touching her or generally breathing obnoxiously.
That said, I really don't know what the answer is. I try to handle the constant disputes diplomatically, though, I will admit, sometimes I fold and just beg for peace. I would like to think this is a stage and will pass, but I have seen too many sisters bickering and trying to outdo one another into adulthood.
What is the answer? How do you keep the peace and at the same time help to foster a close and loving relationship? Really, I would love to know and am open to suggestions.

On the bright side... spring is only 16 days away!