As I was washing and packaging the eggs we sell at Valley Feed in Belfair, I couldn’t believe the sell by date I marked on the cartons was already in September! That means in about a month and a half, it will be fall already. Not that I don’t love fall, but it seems like summer just got here. I’ve spent the majority of my time outside, since this is our busy season here on the farm. That’s why I haven’t sat down to write an update in far too long! Quite a few changes have happened in the last few weeks, some of them good, some of them sad. My buddy King Julian, the rooster who would chivalrously knock Sean Paul out of the air in order to protect me, has moved on to the Big Farm in the Sky. I have no doubt he is now protecting the angels from Sean Paul’s signature sneak attacks. KJ passed from old age, I think, since he was probably about 7 years old. The leg he injured during his fight with the eagle a few years back had been bothering him a great deal, and for about the last month or so I’ve had to lift him up onto the roost at night, then escort him down in the morning. We had a strong bond, he and I, so I knew right away when he was about to pass. I had the chance to give him a last cuddle and say goodbye. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a pretty good way to go.
In happier news, Dimsworth and Hawthorne are ecstatic to finally be outside in the pasture with the rest of the critters. Every time I passed them in their brooding box, they would huff and puff, then jump on their climbing logs and launch themselves at the wire mesh cover. I took that to mean they wanted to be outside, although after I set them loose for the first time I had a brief worry that the wire mesh cover was the only thing preventing them from attacking my head. Luckily for me, they were far more interested in exploring their new environment, and now they follow me around chirping happily whenever I go out there. Although fully feathered, they are in that awkward teenage phase where they disturbingly resemble Skeksis from the Dark Crystal, minus the ceremonial robes.
The five ducklings have also been unleashed upon the greater pasture, and they spend the bulk of their time hosting pool parties. In fact, they rarely ever venture more than five feet from the big pond, and that’s to take a sun nap. Ducks grow up much more quickly than chickens and turkeys; the cute fuzzy duckling stage lasted approximately five minutes. They only spent a month or so in the brooding box, and as soon as they were fully feathered out I relocated them to the duck mansion. It wasn’t because they complained like the turkeys, they were actually quite calm and happy inside the box. They just spent their entire time in the litter box wading pool, excitedly splashing about, which forced me to clean the box two or three times a day. I don’t mind the extra work, but white shavings don’t grow on trees and they were blowing through two packages a week.
Speaking of blowing through two packages a week, that’s about how many boxes of Wheat Thins all the bunnies munch through these days. Since there’s nothing cuter than an itty bitty bunny eating a Wheat Thin, I started giving them one pretty much every time I went into the Bunny Ranch. Now I have seven snack cracker addicts who, in addition to their larger parents, clamor for handouts as soon as I set a foot in the door. I do balance out their diets by adding a never-ending supply of fresh garden greens to the mix, though. I’m not sure if it was the freakishly hot weather so early this year or what, but my carrots and my romanescu failed to produce actual vegetables. The carrots went to seed, and the romanescu is just a big pile of leaves. Bad for my culinary adventures, but good for the bunnies. The plants are about three feet tall, and they can demolish one down to the roots in a few hours.
Not all of my crops are doomed, though — the corn is over seven feet tall with lots of plump ears on it, and the tomato harvest is going to be amazing. All four boxes of potatoes are filled to capacity, which is going to be a LOT of potatoes, considering each box is four feet tall with two foot sides. I’m sure there’s a super easy mathematical formula that would tell me how many square feet of potatoes we have, but I am not friends with math (not even acquainted, really), so I’ll just say we have a lot. I harvested close to 300 shallots, which I hung up to dry in our woodshed. We have already processed two batches of cucumbers into pickles, and I had enough strawberries in the garden to make 19 pints of strawberry jam. This weekend, it’s all about raspberries. My friend Rachel took me to the Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, and I picked around 35 pounds of them. I was the envy of all the other berry pickers with my tactical berry retaining device, which Gene had fashioned by attaching a padded neck strap to a plastic ice cream bucket. Rachel had the foresight to bring a red wagon along, and with the help of her daughter we filled up about ten buckets. I probably had at least a bucket’s worth of my own raspberries in the raised bed Gene built, but I always raid the bushes while I’m watering, and for some reason there’s none left.