It's starting the long slide into spring. Days are getting longer and warmer. All this is exciting to the world around us. The other day, we could hear Spring Peepers, the creek rushing down the glen and the rain falling through the walnuts as we stood in the darkness, protected, on the deep front porch. Not another sound, no motors, no voices, no other humans around. Very serene.
We checked on our bees and indeed, have determined them to be alive and Schrodinger's Beehives no more! It's not time to delve into the hives yet, I'll wait until we've reliably warmed up to above 50 degrees F. It was very good to see them flying. I worry over those insects probably more than I should. They are the most critically endangered livestock that we keep. I could see they are bringing in dark orange pollen. This tells me two things. They have a queen. They are feeding babies. Both hives! This is a very good thing.
We purchased our summer stock of chicken for the freezer - Cornish Crosses. They are in chick form right now but it won't take them long to become franken-chickens. This breed of chicken was bred to be grow fast, big and meaty, meant for the table. We give them the best life we can for nine weeks and then they have one really bad minute. In the meantime, they flap, run, peck, eat, drink, play and generally get to act like chickens! In two weeks, we'll put them outside to catch bugs and eat grass.
Our main flock of birds has increased their egg laying. There are a couple of reasons for this, too - the days are longer and the Boss Rooster is doing his job. When we got the two new roosters, I wondered who would be the Cock of the Walk. Well, it's Julius, the big black Jersey Giant in the photo. He has claimed all of the hens. Terrence, the Barred Rock roo keeps trying but the ladies have made it clear that Julius is the pride of the chicken yard and he keeps it that way. The other birds ignore Terrence and Julian bullies him.
We finally found bare root Blueberries. They aren't quite bare - they do come in a little soil filled bag. I've looked at the $20.00 plants you find at the nursery that are further along but that price is a little steep when you are planting so much. I've passed them up for two years, looking for the bareroots. You have to plant at least two varieties of berry - they are cross pollinators. I'm excited about starting a permaculture bed. I'll tell you more about it in a future post.
We've planted about half the seedlings I plan on growing this year - a little over forty varieties. We started plants out on the 7th and continued on the 22nd and we'll do more this weekend at the seeding class this coming Saturday. So far, Tansy, Lettuce and Green Pepper is UP and best of all, Lavender! I've had a problem growing lavender for a few years but I keep trying and this year, yes! It worked! I have at least four little plants showing their first leaves.
Another plant that I've had trouble growing is rosemary. Last year I started ten cuttings and got exactly one plant. This year, I took my ten cuttings from that plant. It's very healthy and bushy, just like I like it. So, to propagate Rosemary, the sprigs stay in water until they show roots about two inches long. There is slightly more to it than that, but that's essentially what you do. SEE! Can you see the rootlets on all four of these sprigs? Another success! I have another jar with six more and two of those have tiny rootlets already.
Here is a close up of the hawk in our hidden picture this week. He is perched very close to the paddock and is intently watching the chickens. Lucky chickens, our pen is covered with bird netting and while that hawk might want a chicken dinner, he can't get in. As you can see, we're busy again at Windy Thistle. I am glad the forced idleness of winter is over and I can act on our plans. Bees & Honey in July, Chickens and a bad day on April 25th, Hopefully chicks from our egg flock this summer, hundreds of seedlings to feed us and a few other families this summer, along with our schedule of classes and events. We've got a lot to keep us busy! Visits are always welcome so come see what we do and how we do it! Just let me know when you are intending to visit. Don't forget: Become a member of our CSA and receive a weekly market basket of good things to eat and free enrollment in our series of homesteading arts, crafts, gardening and other homesteading activities and events held at Windy Thistle Farm. Enrollment ends 3/31/2020. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or just hit the contact us button at the top of the page.
If you have questions, please let me know in the comment sections. Have a great week!