Growing Up

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The pullets have been moved out to the chicken tractor, which gets moved around our yard everyday to get fresh grass.  These chickens will be our new layers.  Our old layers, 5 of them left now, could use some support in the laying department.  A fox took all of last year’s pullets, so we are making sure these little girls don’t wander free until they are absolutely full grown.  Last year the fox stole the pullets when Missy was tied up.  The full grown hens ran to Missy’s protection, but the little ones didn’t.

So now these new chicks (now pullets) have outgrown their brooder in the barn, they get to hang out in the chicken tractor where our meat birds usually fatten up.  Our meat chicks haven’t arrived yet this year.

The avian flu is becoming a big issue in our area.  The large turkey factories near us have it, which is very deadly to their birds.  USDA inspectors came by our place a few days ago to test our flock.  They were going from farm to farm, checking for backyard poultry.  We were told we will only hear from them again if they get a positive test, and we haven’t heard.  I’m not worried.  I am eager for these girls to start laying.  I’m sick of buying eggs.  5 old hens don’t provide nearly enough for our family.

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I’m Blessed

Good Morning, Friends.

We had such a good weekend.  Knut and his family finished planting the corn, and they are onto the soy beans.  The weather could not be any more obliging for planting season.  This means we see very little of Knut.  Of course, I didn’t get my garden in last week like I had planned, but the garden prep is going well.  It feels late because of this glorious weather, but in fact I’m still early.  I’m trying hard to not let it mess with my head.  It’s that time of year where there is massive amounts of work all around me that will likely take all summer to mostly complete.  It can either be exciting and inspiring, like a blank slate, or overwhelming like an army of grass invading on every side.

Speaking of armies of grass, the kids and I have named our gardens.  I told David as he was helping me prep the “old garden” that this area was actually the country of “Gardentopia” and it was being invaded in a brutal war from the country of the grasslands.  We were soldiers sent to fight for the territory of Gardentopia.  The kids liked that.

The kids really liked this story, so we had to come up with a name for “the new garden” which are the French style beds that we added near the chicken coop last year.  I named that country “Versailles” after the famous palace just outside of Paris with it’s vast gardens.  Elias really wanted to name a garden “Bloom” so that is the name of our front flower bed.  The country of Bloom is in really bad shape in it’s war against the grasslands.  However, we must fight for Gardentopia first, because we have a vested interest in that country because of it’s export of vegetables which takes priority over Bloom which has an expert of flowers, though I plan on putting all my herbs there this year, so it’s not like it’s just completely frivolous.  Once martial law has a firm hold of Gardentopia and Versailles, we will turn our forces to Bloom.

As you can tell, we’ve been having some fun.  But I’m totally not showing you pictures of the garden yet.  I can’t bear to.  It’s too depressing.  I do not want to record and remember how slow it is going.

I am so relieved to be done with April.  It was far too busy, and I feel so ragged from it.  May promises to be extremely busy, but just a hair less.  At least I hope.  Those are famous last words.

This last weekend we got to grill hot dogs and vegetables.  I had a playdate with one of my best friends who I never get to see because she’s even busier than even me, but she’s one of those people who you feel is just like balm for your soul.  I don’t have to carefully word my conversation around her, or wonder if she is secretly judging me.  And every time I meet with her, I feel like she pushed me more towards Christ.  I feel uplifted, and full of hope.  I know she’s probably not aware that she even does this for me, but she is the definition of a kindred spirit.

Sigh.  I haven’t always had a friend like this, with so many years of feeling completely lonely, it makes me feel the weight of the blessing of having even one friend like this.

Growth

So, our baby chicks are getting big.  We are still figuring out what breeds we ended up being left with after several of them didn’t make the journey to our house.  I think I’ve identified at least 1 of the chicks as a rooster.  This was to be our first year of keeping a rooster, and we had ordered 5 to choose from.  Now we don’t know how many are roosters because so many died.  The one that I identified as a rooster already we will not keep long term.  He charges me whenever I go visit them.  I have a feeling that’s not a good sign.

We have been talking about getting turkeys for a few years, but about 2 weeks ago, Knut out of the blue said, “Oh, just order some turkeys.  Do it quick so they will be ready for Thanksgiving.”  So I ordered 15, since that’s the minimum order, of Bourbon Red Turkeys.  We picked that one because we may or may not decide to overwinter a breeding pair, and hatch our own turkeys next year.  However, not all turkey breeds can reproduce naturally.  In fact, most breeding on conventional meat turkeys is done artificially so that when the birds are mature, they have more breast meet.  However, this makes them so top-heavy, they can’t breed.  Don’t laugh.  So we got breed able turkeys.  From what we hear, they are fairly dumb birds, and will die if you look funny at them.  The kids must have made funny faces at 2 of them because we are down to 13 now.

After the debacle of the chicks coming in a day late a few weeks ago, the post office made extra sure that the turkeys got to us ASAP.  I woke up at 5:00am to my phone ringing.  (It was still dark out people.  That’s not morning.  That’s night.)  I croaked out a “Hello” and they apologized for waking me, but said they had some live birds for me to come pick up.  I said “Thank you,” hung up the phone, and went back to sleep.  Well, I tried to, but Knut said, “are you going to pick them up?”  I said, “in an hour.” Then he said, “You better set an alarm.”  I said, “You’re right.”  And then I did.  You really can get a better idea of the conversation if you put about a couple minutes of dozing between each sentence we each said.  The whole conversation took about 15 minutes between him and me.

So I pried myself out of bed a few minutes after 6.  Miraculously no one else in the house was up yet, so I snuck downstairs grabbed the car keys and drove the van to town.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever picked up packages at the back door of the post office.  They didn’t give me instructions this time because I’ve gotten used to it now.  The whole thing is terrifying.  When the front doors are still locked, and they are not open for business, but they really want you to pick up your live animal, they tell you to come to the back door.

First you drive into the “restricted” portion of the parking lot.  Not only does it tell you that you will be towed, it tells you that you are breaking the law if you are going back there unauthorized and you will be arrested.  You pull the car up to where semi trucks usually park, and where there are cameras, and perhaps rifles pointed at you for all you know.  As you ascend the stairs there are signs proclaiming that you are committing high treason if you take another step towards the sacred and secure packages.

OK, so maybe they don’t say that, but there’s an overkill of warnings and it freaks me out.

So I rang the buzzer, and the door immediately unlocked, and I go into a room full of packages but no people.  Actually I’m relieved as soon as I get inside because the owner of the yarn store that used to be in town actually works at the post office too and sometimes I can see her and chat for a minute or two.  It’s hard to go anywhere in town without seeing a familiar, friendly face.

The ride home from picking up birds is much louder than then the ride into town.  Their little chirps are so much fun.

The kids were delighted when they were eating breakfast with Knut, to find that I came home with a noisy package.

The strawberry plants are starting to green up and stretch out. I got some gardening done yesterday, but mostly clearing away dead stuff, and spreading some compost, which really should have been done last Fall.  Silje and David very willingly filled the wheelbarrow for me over and over again.  I’ll take their enthusiasm as long as I can, since I know it will dwindle around June.  We got some rain last night, which we weren’t expecting as the chances on the forecast were so slim.  So that has adjusted our gardening plans for the week.  I’m actually fine with that.