Remind me when I start complaining about the weather again (as I did in my last blog) how great this time of year really is. First of all, there are baby lambs. Honestly, there is absolutely nothing cuter than a baby lamb—even though the one above looks more like the Easter Bunny. You get a better idea from the photo at right. All of these cuties are Cheviot lambs, who have distinctively upright ears and clean faces. They are new residents at Whiting Farm right up the road from us. Libby and I visited the farm last year at lambing time and decided to go back this Saturday. For some reason, Libby thought that the lamb at right looked familiar. “Let’s call him Dad,” Libby said. So I took some pictures of “Dad” to show to the real Dad, who was back home rototilling the vegetable garden (a fun job I managed to avoid).
Poor Roy. He gets all the hard jobs. Once again he jokingly offered to write a blog post this week entitled, “She Wanted To Be A Farmer, And I Got All The Work.” Once again, I kept him away from the keyboard. The rototilling—with a less than ideal rented rototiller—turned out to be a bear, what with the sod and rocks and shrub roots. Fortunately, what it turned up is beautiful soil—the remains of a former flower-grower’s garden from years back. We are still pinching ourselves that we’ve got this killer sunny spot to do our vegetable growing (and selling) in our very own backyard (or I should say the backyard of our rented farmhouse). The farmhouse sits on two acres, but this cleared spot that we’ll cultivate is just about 1600 square feet. That’s a good deal smaller than the 2800 square feet we had last year, but with all we’ve learned and lots of streamlining, we should be able to be as productive as last year—hopefully more so. No space-hogging, long-to-mature crops like squashes, eggplants, and peppers this year. Just lots of greens, tomatoes, carrots, beans, herbs, and potatoes.
Which brings me to the second thing I love about this time of year—the opportunity to get outside and dig in the dirt—finally. Even if it is just to dig a trench. See, I felt bad about the whole rototilling thing, so I offered to dig the trench around the garden where we will bury the chicken wire and deer fencing. Truthfully, the couple of hours I spent working on this yesterday were blissful. Shoveling dirt (despite the tug on that weak spot in my lower back) is a Zen activity much like weeding. Now I know why my Dad spends so much time moving plants around in his garden. He’d be shocked to know how much I like digging. When my sister and I were little, we’d find any excuse to get out of garden chores.
Lastly, the really best thing about March is anticipating April—and all that’s coming our way. It’s no secret that Libby and I can barely wait ‘til the baby chicks arrive (in less than two weeks!), but now we can even picture what it’ll be like when they get their feathers and go live outside. Because Roy started building the chicken coop this week. His design is so cool that I thought I’d show you a few photos in case you’re of a mind to do something like this. (I’ll show you more when it’s all finished.)
The best feature is the fun round holes (top right photo and middle photo above) he made to reach inside the nesting boxes in the back of the coop—which also has a flip-down access door. (The holes will offer a little weather protection when the door opens.) The bottom of the coop is hardware cloth (which will have bedding on it); there’s a side door for easy cleaning; and the front features a “viewing” window that also opens for ventilation. (When the hens are inside roosting or laying, they can look out at the vegetable garden!) The cute little arched front door will lead to a ramp which the hens will use to scuttle down to their “yard”—a chicken-wire covered pen that will protect them from hawks during the day. The coop is just a stone’s throw from the edge of the vegetable garden (the clothesline is relocating), and we positioned the coop in a bit of shade for some coverage on the hottest days.
I have to say, Libby and I are not the only ones excited about all these developments. Secretly this whole homesteading/farming/growing/whatever-you-call-it thing we’re doing makes Roy pretty darn happy, too. But just for good measure, I did make him meatloaf for dinner last night.