Best Valentine’s Day ever!

For Valentine’s Day Gene got me the best gift ever — a huge indoor/outdoor pop-up plastic greenhouse! Naturally he set it up in our backroom so I can start sprouting all the plant starts I’m going to sell at the Farmer’s Market. It sits over the heating vent so the seedlings will stay warm and have a slight breeze, and most importantly the plastic walls keep hungry kitties out. We are going to build shelves for it and get a hanging light as well; I’m really excited! On a somewhat related note, for those of you who are local and want to buy plant starts, let me know if you have any special requests ( Otherwise check back soon for the availability list!
In other plant starting news Gene also built me a cold frame to harden off all the seedlings. He’s almost done with it, he just has to finish the walls. The back of it is lined with gravel and water filled PVC pipes to help retain heat. I’ve been keeping Gene busy with my incessant requests for new construction projects. He is going to build me a secure sleeping area for the ducks, and he’s also working on a plan to expand the chicken mansion. He already built raised hay storage that runs across the top of the goats’ bedroom; next he will cut a portion out of the back wall and add an extension. With all those projects I’m not sure when he’ll get to the Quail Sanctuary.
I figure he’s got at least a month before the feed stores get in their game birds. I’m going to get some silver-laced Wynadotte chicks next week, but they’ll live in the now-empty brooding box for at least two months.

I haven’t been able to help with the construction projects at all since I’m back down to just one hand for a few weeks. Oddly enough Gene seems to work faster without my input, but I’m sure he misses my supervisory skills. For now I spend most of the day sitting outside with the critters if it’s nice out; I have mastered the art of one-handed photography. The only real challenge I’ve had so far is herding the pesky goats; they outgrew their collars and I kept forgetting to replace them so when Fiona escaped the pasture yesterday hilarity ensued. A fence fell on the gate during the storm, and since then it hasn’t latched properly. She finally figured out how to open it, which I noticed just as I saw her butt disappearing into the chicken coop. Luckily for me she was wholly unprepared for the sheer volume of indignant squawking, and she came barreling back out thirty seconds later. I finally got her back by the gate by luring her with Wheat Thins, but she didn’t want to walk through the mud puddle at the entrance again. The more I pushed her, the higher up in the air her butt went; “You can push me up but you can’t push me forward” is one of her favorite games. She’s also smart enough to only play it when I have an arm in a cast.

I do enjoy the excuse to stay home and spend two weeks of dedicated chicken-watching though. Fluff Mama and Christmas have developed a friendship; they don’t cuddle or anything but Christmas doesn’t actively hunt and try to eat her when she wanders into their pasture. That makes them practically besties. Puff Daddy and the new Golden Sex Link chickens are doing well too; I think he will eventually become the rooster for their flock. They still haven’t ventured outside the coop, but seem happy enough inside. Apparently they’re a touch agoraphobic…I’ll add chicken valium to my list of things I need to invent.

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