Spring is for chicks!

8cSorry it’s been a month since my last post, but I’ve been spending every available moment outside celebrating the fact that this is the first spring in two years I haven’t been in a cast! Now that the sun has come out, poor Gene’s to-do list has exploded with new projects so he’s been spending all his days off outside with me. He built a series of raised beds that we lined the driveway with, and I’ve already planted raspberries, cauliflower, corn, broccoli, romanescu (the gourmet broccoli they always use on Top Chef, so naturally I had to have it), onions, shallots, garlic, and of course my 15-pound radishes. I’m actually kind of disappointed in those so far – I was hoping the radishes would have burst through their containers by now.

My greenhouse is completely filled to capacity, and I already have cucumbers and aasquashes starting to form! Since it’s starting to literally resemble a jungle in there, I decided to bring in some wildlife in the form of ladybugs and preying mantises. I was particularly excited about the mantises, because the package contained two intriguing egg-sac/cocoon things. I decided to name my two about-to-hatch new pets Christopher and Francis, since those were the first two Saint names I could come up with. And then I took a closer look at the package, which said each egg sac contained about 200 mantises. Gene said he is looking forward to the day when I run out of the greenhouse, screaming and covered in waving green insects.

images

Thank you, ScienceDaily, for a picture of what I DON’T have.

While my greenhouse jungle is by no means lacking in insects, it is sadly bereft of papayas. The nursery still hasn’t replaced my poor, sad, shriveled, DOA papaya plant, much to my great annoyance. Clearly the good folks at Burgess Nursery don’t realize that my blog has a worldwide following, and if I dog them online that one guy in Russia who showed up in my “pageviews” tracker will never order from them.

In critter news, I have 16 newly hatched chicks! Seven of them are being co-parented by experienced broody mamas, and they are currently residing in the back half of the goat shed. They are the pair that took up residence in the far corner of the goat’s bedroom, and by sheer luck their clutch of eggs didn’t get smooshed by Ursula’s ever-expanding girth. I didn’t want to take the chance with chicks, though, and once they started hatching they were relocated. Condi’s chicks also hatched today; she built her nest in a plastic tub in the foyer of the goat shed. I didn’t want to relocate her to the main coop, because another broody mama has taken up residence in the nesting boxes. Sadly, she can’t seem to remember which clutch of eggs is hers, so I came out this morning to three newly hatched chicks crying piteously for their mama while she was obliviously parked on two eggs one nesting box over. I pulled out my Chicken Protective Services IMG_7853badge and promptly removed the chicks from her custody. I gave them to Condi, who happily incorporated them into her brood. I decided that she needed a protective wall to shield her from the comings and goings of all the hens, since the goat shed is a coveted hang-out spot, especially when it’s windy out. It took me six hours, and lots of measuring, re-measuring, and swearing, but I finally built the most beautiful of frames to which I then stapled plastic mesh. When I surprised Gene with it, he agreed that it was a nice wall indeed, but added that it would have taken him five minutes and less screws to create. At any rate, all of the brand new mamas are happy. The co-parents took their chicks out into their first chaperoned visit to the big wide world, and I was lucky enough to photograph one of the chicks catching her very first worm. The worm was longer than the chick, but somehow she made room.

blue polishThe garage brooding box chicks are almost ready to go out into the big coop, finally. I discovered just yesterday that my Polish Crested chick is a rooster, so apparently they only come in male. Sadly Sean Paul, the watch-your-back-cuz-he’ll-impale-your-legs Polish Crested rooster, passed last week. He’s now attacking the angels when they aren’t looking at the Big Farm in the Sky. My new rooster seems to be following his legacy, because he attacks my hand whenever I reach into change their water or refill the feeders. On the plus side, my blue Polish Crested chick hasn’t crowed at me yet, so I still have hope for an agreeable hen.

IMG_7464Little Leonidas, Daisy’s kid, is getting bigger at an exorbitant rate. He’s all legs and ears with a little bitty head. To date, his favorite game is trying to stand on Ursula while she does her best to shake him off. In his defense, she is definitely wide enough to park your drink on. He also loves his Uncle Shy, and watching the two of them take a nap in the sunshine is the cutest thing ever.

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