I've made quite the realization this week... I've realized that Dylan and I are starting to have less and less in common with those of our generation. I spent this week catching up with friends from across the country. Virtual coffee dates, I called them. I needed those chats, those old jokes, the history of friendship. It filled my soul, and yet I found myself sharing all about the projects and adventures here on the farm. Our life has become this little homestead, this little oasis we've begun to create. I've grown to love being here. We are blessed to have this farm in times like this. Times when we aren't really sure what our government is going to look like in six months. Who knows who we will be growing food for this year! It's moments like this when I find myself so very thankful we decided the farm life was for us. The onions and lettuce, melons and tomatoes.. the meat chickens we've been rearing (remind me to give you an update on them in just a second), they all serve a purpose. Whether it be our table or our neighbor's table. We are eager to see how the Lord is going to use this farm. For now, we will continue to sow our seeds and await the fruit that will bear.
Okay, now before I forget to give you an update on the chickens, here we go! Our meat chickens are 5 weeks old as of this week and growing strong and healthy! I think we are out of the "random chicken dying" window (as I have been calling it). We lost a chick this past week... I found him in the brooder box, being trampled by the others. I scooped him up, he looked weak, so off to the house we went. I put him in my hoodie as I finished up some work on the computer, my body giving off the warmth I thought he needed. I wanted him to know he wasn't alone. I was there, even though I knew he likely wouldn't make it through the night, I was there giving him love... and food and water and a cozy place to sleep in our guest room. He passed away some time during the afternoon the following day. I grown accustomed to death on the farm, but yet still find myself rooting for each and every life we have on this farm. You see, even though most of the animals we raised on this farm become, well, food, I still want them to have happy, HEALTHY lives.
May they only have one bad day in their lifetime.
Last night, in the pouring rain, I moved the rest of the chicks to a new enclosure. They had more than outgrown the brooder and at 5 weeks old, had all of their feathers. It was time to get them some fresh grass and more space. So, at eight o' clock at night, in the pouring rain, I drug the old 10 x 6 dog kennel to the barn, grabbed the old dog house and some fresh straw, and one by one, the chicks were moved in. They have food, water and with half the kennel uncovered, plenty of grass to snack on. It's important that they get heavy access to fresh soil to get all of the good nutrients that the soil can provide. This will help them build strong bones to support their weight. I checked on them once before bed and as of this morning, all made it through the night and were happy to greet me at breakfast! They'll stay in here until we finish the mobile chicken tractor (crossing our fingers that we finish it tomorrow). We'll use these little cuties to help till the land and prep the soil before we plant seeds and transplants into the market garden. We've got eight-ish more weeks until they are butchered. Then in August, we will get 25 more and do this whole sha-bang all over again! Strong, happy, fully-feathered farm chickens is what we are going for. IF it means we don't get as much meat as we would from the commercially grown chickens, well, I'm 1000% satisfied with that.
We've been making more and more progress on the farm these past few weeks. 150 strawberry plants now call our farm home! I can't wait to harvest the pounds and pounds of strawberries these babies will grow. Think of all the HOMEMADE JAM! We also planted 15 raspberry starts which will trellis down the west side of the market garden. Two huckleberry bushes found their way into the cart when we were at the local nursery last week. The greenhouse is home to endless trays of vegetables and flowers. Cabbages, onions, tomatoes, sweet peas and cosmos (to name a few) are growing happily. I'm eager to get carrots in the ground, dahlia tubers planted and squash seeds started, but alas, it's not quite time, YET!
Our egg laying flock has been adjusting quite well to the now eleven gals and our beautiful rooster, Meredith. I think he's quite fond of his new girlfriends. Enjoy it bud! I've been noticing new colors of eggs this week so someone finally got the clue that it's Spring! HALLELUJAH!
For now, we will continue to mulch strawberries, sew more seeds (how many is too many, really?), and rear chicks. The goats still need to be bred by our little buck- the poor guy has tried but his little legs are still too short. Meat rabbits arrive in the middle of May. Two does and a buck will be just the perfect fit for our farm. That should provide us with about 50 rabbits per year. More egg laying chicks will arrive next month- we'd like to aim for about 25 in our laying flock. I'm looking for a few Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and at least one Lavender Orpington, because every farmer needs a purple chicken! This farmer needs to continue tiling the garden... LIKE TODAY. Always tasks on the farm, but this twenty-seven year old loves this life.
That second cup of coffee is calling, and I must go.