Monday, March 22, 2010

Keeping the Peace

With each day spring becomes more evident. The Yarrow, Self Heal, and Lemon Balm that I planted in the food forests are all waking up with great energy. The Autumn Olives are full of buds about to open to leaves. The white and red clover seed I scattered a couple weeks ago has sprouted into carpets of green in the original chicken run and around the fruit trees. Spring is always a busy time on a homestead!

A week ago I had to harvest the Guinea rooster. I'd not planned to do that anytime soon but he suddenly decided it was time to mate with the chicken hens and was quite violent about it. I woke up last Saturday to a hen that was terribly wounded with several large holes pecked into her and a bloody, bruised back. The minute I got out there to let them out to range he was after her. I put her in the greenhouse and began the process of getting her back on her feet. I kept an eye on him the rest of the day and he was on a tear. He wasn't like this two weeks ago. I'd noticed a bit of increased aggression but in just a few days it was like a switch had been flipped. So, I butchered him Sunday morning and made a big pot of really good guinea curry coconut soup. Thanks Mr. Guinea and I'm truly sorry to see you go.

As crazy loud as those Guineas are, I still adore them. Oh, and they've started laying their eggs right in with the chickens so I'm getting 2-3 little guinea eggs a day!! The shells are so much thicker that they don't break when dropped. I have to SLAM them into the cast iron skillet to break them open.

After a week in the greenhouse the wounded hen has recovered very well and I put her back with the flock Saturday. During her time in the greenhouse she did a great job of tilling up the bed. I'll get that planted with something this week.

Other news, Petunia the deer has been back quite a few days, often several times a day. The other day she laid down right in front of the front door. Adorable. I've got the chicken coop all cleaned out and set with fresh straw. The garden has been planted with a big bed of potatoes, 2 beds of onions and multiple beds of lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, radishes, carrots and, along the fence, sugar snap peas. The broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi are about ready for transplanting. Tomatoes were a bit slow to sprout but seem to have woken up. No sign of the eggplant yet. Next to start are peppers and various herbs: lemon balm, comfrey, oregano, lovage, borage and a few others, medicinal and culinary.

I'm doing all this planting in the garden extension that I mulched last spring. The soil in that half has far fewer rocks and after a year of worm activity is really looking fantastic. The straw and cardboard mulch is still thick enough that I won't have any problems over there this summer. The garden fence improvements I did last year seem to be keeping the rabbits at bay so I should have a good harvest this year.

Last but not least, thanks to Juli I've got a nice new patch of about 40 strawberry plants. My guess is that with the three rhubarb plants I put in last year we'll be having quite a bit of rhubarb strawberry pie next summer, if not a bit this summer. Next year I expect to also be harvesting blueberries and the year after that hardy kiwis. Add to that mix the juneberries, currants, gooseberries, apples, peaches and plums and, well, there should be lots of sweet fruit for the picking!


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