The stories, travails, mistakes, successes; the journey of a change in lifestyle for two would-be market farmers and permaculturists.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring is Sloppily Springing


Spring is sloppily springing.  The chickens are all over the place scratching in the treeline and the open garden beds, getting to all the good green stuff that they can find.  I doubt that there are many bugs yet, but who knows?  There are large birds flying about now, hawks, vultures, cranes, geese.  The only ones we worry about are the hawks.  A big Redtailed hawk took up a viewing spot in our treeline a few days ago, making everyone nervous.  There wasn't a chicken to be seen.  They've become very smart, seeming to know when a large bird is around before we do.  If they are out when one flies over, it is amazing to see them freeze in place under a bush.  The roosters scream a warning, and the ones in the open rush to cover, whatever it is.  People often think chickens aren't very smart, but they have their own kind of smarts and social system, and it is fascinating to watch them in action.
Chickens and a Wet Spring



We made a trip to almost Minnesota on Sunday. (Hudson, WI, right on the banks of the river separating Wisconsin and Minnesota)  The reason?  We had the opportunity to puchase a group of adult Cotton Patch geese.  Cotton Patch geese http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/waterfowl/cottonpatch.html are currently one of the rarest and becoming one of the most sought after geese in the country.  We were unexpectedly offered this group of 6 birds and we happily agreed to take them on.  They are out in a large moveable pen, getting used to things.  They seemed a bit traumatized by the move, but some tubs of water for bathing, some sunlight, and soon, I hope, some warmer weather and I think they will be much happier.  At some point, we will be putting up the moveable fences and then they get to roam around in our “wild” area where there are a lot of blackberries, and also a lot of grass and weeds to be kept in check.  Cotton Patch are an old American breed that developed in the South to weed the Cotton, so they are completely suited to their new chores.  At some point, we hope the ladies will start laying some eggs, which we intend to let them hatch.  If you think you might be interested in Cotton Patch goslings, let us know!


Wary Geese
Hatching Soon!
Lots of stuff going on now with the advent of spring.  We've planted greens and radishes in our small low tunnel hoophouse, and are getting lots of seedlings of other stuff going inside.  We have a small portable greenhouse, (only 6' by 8') but it will really help us get a start on things this year.  The garlic is already up-  we have around 600 plants of different varieties in 2 raised beds.  Crocuses are blooming, one of the broody hens has 7 eggs that will hatch in a week, I am getting ready to incubate 2 to 3 dozen eggs, and the daffodils are showing their heads under the fruit trees.  It is a while before it stays warm, but we are gearing up for that big time now.  
First Crocuses





The chickens continue to lay well, and I thank our loyal egg customers for their business.  We’re looking forward to planting more trees and fruiting shrubs this spring, as well as trying a lot of interesting annual vegetables.  We will most likely be at the farmer’s markets again, depending on whether or not I go back into library work again.  Permaculture is a long term investment, and as 2 people well over the age of 50, it is a little harder to get the work physical work done.  I guess that is why god invented Kubotas. 



Me and my Kubota

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