Swinging into Summer

“Swinging” into Summer is hardly accurate. It feels more like we’re on a speeding train and Summer is a brick wall directly ahead of us! The days are passing way faster than I care for (but isn’t that always how it goes?). Life is bursting forth everywhere I turn, the baby is growing way too quickly, and my older children are more incredible with each passing day.

Summer on the farm is such a busy, hectic time. There are so many demands! At the end of the day, though, it’s all worth it, and there are an abundance of little rewards.

The chicks, who one month ago looked like this –

- now reside outside and look like this -
How quickly they change!

The rabbits are thriving on grass. They’ve escaped a couple of times, and so we’ve been playing around with various modifications to the rabbit tractor to prevent escape but still allow for grass-eating. (Stay tuned for an update on our rabbits!)

The farmers’ market opened on June 9th, and I was so happy to be back! We had a fabulous opening day, with way more sales than we anticipated and lots of folks from last year stopping by to say hello. The feelings of community and camaraderie that come out at the farmers’ market are so uplifting.

Here’s my market partner – her name is Juno. She’s a 12-week-old Border Collie, and absolutely fabulous!

We’ve also had a few births around this little farm over the past month -


Dinosaur finally birthed her kid, a beautiful little buckling whose name is Boots.


Platypus the duck went broody and sat on a rather large nest of eggs. Eight of them hatched last week, much to the delight of my children.

Yes, Summer is a busy time on this farm: chicks, bunnies, goat kids, ducklings, puppies, gardens, children…….. I feel as though I’m busy and working my butt off nearly every moment of the day. It’s good work, though, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Little Miracles

Wow, Spring sure does bring so many wonderful things to the farm! A few days ago we discovered that our Lionhead rabbits, Rosemary and BooBoo, had created five beautiful little babies together.

Aren’t they amazing? We are so very much in love with them. The kids have been holding them multiple times per day, singing to them, telling them stories, stroking their incredibly soft fur. We will be sad to see these sweet little things go to new homes.

If those little bunnies weren’t cute enough, Tuesday was chick day! Our day-old chicks arrived at the feed store around noon. When I went to the feed store to pick them up, I walked in to find boxes upon boxes of day-old chicks stacked all around the store. The cheeping was so loud that I could hardly hear the woman at the desk as she spoke. It was absolutely incredible, all these tiny new bundles of life. I’m happy to report that our six little chicks are home and in their brooder (which they are sharing with the children’s duckling, who loves on those little chicks pretty fierce). We brought home two White Leghorns, two Barred Rocks, a Rhode Island Red and an ISA Brown. They are the sweetest little bundles of fuzz. Pictures to come soon!

I tried my hand at building an egg incubator and seem to have met with success. I bought two Easter Egger eggs off a neighbour and have them in the incubator now. I love the blue-green egg shells – so beautiful! I have my fingers crossed that the eggs are fertile and will develop well. In all, there are 18 eggs from various hens in the incubator. From what I’ve read, there’s usually about a 70% success rate for hatching. This is our first time hatching our own eggs and I am so excited to experience this!

Witnessing all of these little creatures discovering the world fresh and new, and seeing new life coming into this world, fills me with such a feeling of wonder and awe. And as these new lives blossom, other lives are lost – a coyote has made off with a rabbit and laying duck, visiting us two nights in a row. Mama Earth and Her creatures are so amazing! How blessed we are to be part of this web of life, to take this journey through the great Circle of Life. I am filled with gratitude.

Long, Long Winter

Oh, dear readers, I am sick and tired of winter.  We’re not even halfway through and I normally don’t get fed up with winter this early, but man, this year I seem to just be done with it already.

To compensate, I am busy making plans for spring.  I’ve decided that this is the year to do the things I’ve always wanted to do but just haven’t gotten around to yet.  So far, here is my list:

- Maple Tapping.  Last year and the year before I had planned to tap maples and make syrup, but I never ended up making it happen.  Perhaps it had something to do with being 8 months pregnant at tapping time last year, and holed up in the house with baby Raina the year before… at any rate, this year I will tap maples, gosh darnit, and I will make syrup.  I’ve read all about it in my handy book, The Backyard Homestead, and now all that remains is to actually do it.

- Raising Fiber Animals.  Yes, I’ve wanted fiber animals for a long time now.  Sheep and angora rabbits seem most plausible at this point, and now that I finally have a spinning wheel it makes sense to have fiber animals.  I’ve used up all the roving I got for Christmas and I’m just itching to have something else to spin.  Roving can get pricey!  What better solution than to produce my own – angora rabbits are easy enough to keep, and now that the barn stalls are finished and the fence is up, a pair of sheep should be no problem.  However, I am not the only decision-making adult around here, and my dear partner may not agree that adding more animals to this farm is a good idea…

- Goat Milking.  Here’s hoping that Edward successfully did his job and Bella & Alice are pregnant by now.  If all goes well, we will have a couple of little goat kids in the spring and our girls will be at full milk production for the summer.  I am determined to become a great milker!  My dabbles in goat milking this past Autumn have only strengthened my resolve to become a master of the milk pail.

- Gardening.  These cold, dark January evenings are perfect for sitting around dreaming about the garden.  It will be time to start seeds before you know it, and I’m really enjoying the planning stages.  What to plant, and where?  How many of each plant?  Which plants for the market garden?  Which plants for the kids’ garden?  Oh, I do love digging in the dirt and I can’t wait to get those first seeds into their little pods of soil.  Life feels so hopeful and full of promise when there are little green shoots bursting alive all around the house.

- Hatching Chicks.  Have I mentioned that I evaluated my options for replenishing my flock and determined that purchasing chicks from a hatchery doesn’t feel like a good thing to be doing?  I am hoping that Casper will be a good little rooster this spring and fertilise some eggs.  The fellow we got our ducks from has a few broody hens that hatched and raised chicks last spring, and he will sell us one or two for cheap.  My hope is that between Casper and a couple of broody hens, we’ll be able to have some farm-hatched chicks raised by a real mama this spring.

 

There is more I could add to my list, but these are the things that seem most likely to be accomplished, and if the list gets too long I’ll end up feeling like I’ve taken on more than I can handle.  I’m extremely excited for this spring – the first time in years that I won’t have a babe in arms or a pregnancy limiting what I’m able to do outdoors!

In the meantime, I’m going to make the best of the snow.  Lynden got a super sled from his grandparents last Autumn, and I’ve purchased a harness for the dog.  Sometime in the next couple of days, we’re going to take that sled out into the fields and let Oddler pull the kids around – something the dog loves perhaps more than the children do!

Time Flies (and so do Chickens!)

Our chicks are two weeks old today and growing so fast! They are feathering out beautifully, and changing noticeably each day. Our Barred Rock is starting to get the white markings on her feathers and our ISA Brown now has some brown feathers coming in (she was only growing white feathers until now).

Here they are, our girls at two weeks old. I love this photo – they totally look posed, but they did it on their own! From left to right we have Midnight (aka Sally), our Black Sex-linked; Star, our Barred Rock; Little Red, a Rhode Island Red; Henny Penny, our ISA Brown; and Rusty, another Rhode Island Red.

.

The kids and I have taken the girls out into the yard to explore and let loose a few times. Today was a perfect day for scratching for bugs! The sun was out and the day was warm, but not stifling hot like last week. The chicks seemed elated to be outside in the grass, and spent the entire two hours scratching and pecking at the ground. An attempt was made at eating a worm, but the chicks are still too small and the worm proved to be too challenging. After a short struggle, the chicks gave up.

.

Little Red may just be my favourite of the chicks. She is feisty but friendly, full of personality. She had “pasted vent” when she was three or four days old, and although my doctoring clearly hurt her (as gentle as I was), she held her head high and made barely a squawk. She likes to follow me around and eat from my hand. This little lady really struts her stuff. I can’t wait to see what she’s like when she grows up!!

.

While Little Red is my favourite, Midnight and Star are the most beautiful. I love their inky black feathers & down, and the hint of red in Midnight’s wings when the sunlight hits her just so. I love Star’s white markings and the lovely white star (hence her name) on the top of her head. They are gorgeous little chicks, not quite as awkward and geeky looking as the other three.

.

We had one more little critter join us in the garden today. Meet Cottontail, our newest little lionhead bunny, six weeks old. We picked him up this morning from the breeder, the one we went to for Sage and Rosemary. We’ve been waiting for him for a while now! He is being housed with Sage – the whole purpose behind purchasing him was to provide a companion for Sage, so poor Sage wouldn’ t be lonely without Rosemary. So far, the two are getting along smashingly. Cottontail is a cuddly little sweetheart, and of course Lynden is already in love with him. He’s a gorgeous little bunny with beautiful colouring that is not done justice by the photos I took today.

.

Robin loves being outdoors. He sits so quietly and contentedly, watching the sunlight dance through the leaves, listening to the birds, smiling and then frowning and then smiling again. Today he is seven weeks old. The time is flying by!