Garden Helper

We got some good gardening done today! My mail-order blueberry twigs and strawberry blips (ie, everything’s really small) arrived today, so we planted those, along with the potatoes and a few rows of onions. I have more onions to plant, but F naps for only so long!

M is always delighted to spend time outside. She likes the idea of helping in the garden, but not so much the reality of it. But we inspected some worms this morning and talked about keeping them covered with dirt and how lots of worms mean the soil is healthy. And in the afternoon, she just hung out and chatted with me while I planted the strawberries. I kept reminding her that she could go run around or play on her swing set (which is, not accidentally, right next to the garden), but she wanted to stay with me and watch. It was nice to have company! And, of course, once the hose came out, her desire to help came rushing back.

Egg count: Two.

Meeting

I opened the door to the chicks’ coop yesterday and let them mingle with the big chickens. When I put the chickens away in the evenings, the hens always parade through the usually-closed-off-barn (Red opts to go around outside and come in through the pop door, directly into the coop), so the two flocks have seen each other in passing. There wasn’t any fuss yesterday. A couple of the hens welcomed themselves into the chicks’ coop and settled into the nesting boxes — I guess chickens have good memories, as it’s been almost a year since they had access to this coop! The chicks weren’t sure what to think when they walked up the ramp and saw fluffy Rita in their bedroom. Anyway, I’m glad there hasn’t been any tussling between chicks and chickens. Next week is supposed to be rainy, so I think it’ll be time to move the chicks to the big coop and leave the run closed for a while.

I still haven’t planted anything but perennials. Yesterday, we planted some shasta daisies and strawberries that my aunt gave to M. I’ve got an order of strawberry plants coming (today!), which will go in the big garden, but we put M’s in the little flower garden out front. Last week, I found an old bird cage nailed to our “shack”, and it’s the perfect little fence to keep the chickens away from M’s strawberries.

I think it’s probably safe to get seeds and potatoes in the ground. I was ready almost a month ago, and then a real cold snap came through, and it was so rainy for a while. But it’s time to get going!

Yesterday’s egg count: three.

Busy

It sure was nice out today — but windy! We nearly blew away! I cut the grass yesterday, the first time this year. It looks so nice and tidy now. We have a lot of lawn, but if the weather is good, it’s quite nice to listen to music or a podcast and ride the mower.

But most of my “spare” time (basically, whenever my mom is over to watch the girls) has been spent working on putting down our new floors. I spent my tax refund on engineered hardwood — like a laminate, but with a veneer of real wood — for the lower level. I started with the hallway, which meant painting all the trim and doors first, but F’s room is going a bit faster. I *really* like the new floors. And I *really really* like getting rid of the carpet. Ugh, so much yuck in it!

Anyway, here’s the egg report: one yesterday, two today. (I’ve been meaning to keep track of the daily egg count since the hens started laying, for my own reference. I know it’s pretty boring for everybody else!)

Beardy Beatrice

I finally got a good photo of Beatrice’s beard. I wish M would let me rename Beatrice. Maybe I’ll just call him “B”. Anyway, it’s very floofy, isn’t it? He went for a ride on the stroller handle yesterday. Such a nice young chicken.

Three eggs yesterday, two today. I wonder when the new pullets will start laying — I’m guessing September. Hopefully they’ll lay well throughout their first winter, the way our older hens did. We do like our fresh eggs!

Chickens and Ponies

No egg count today! The hens hadn’t laid any when I went it to check on them this morning, and it was so miserable outside (blustery and snowy/rainy — happy May Day!) that I didn’t let them out of their coop, so I didn’t go out again to collect eggs. I did spend some time socializing with the young roosters — trying to keep them friendly. The chicks are still in the small coop, but I brought Beatrice and Jellybean to the big coop to see what the grown chickens would make of them. (They weren’t sure what Beatrice was, if their alarm was anything to go by!) Assuming Eddie becomes head rooster of the younger flock, I’ll probably build a small bachelor pad for the other two boys. But Eddie has been aggressive with me for a while — charging the mesh sides of the brooder coop when I get close — and I don’t love that behavior. If he doesn’t shape up, I might not keep him, which could mean that the other two boys (Jellybean and Beatrice) would stay with the flock. Three roosters (including Red) for eight hens isn’t great, but it might work?

We went out in the brisk May weather to get some shopping done, and I let M pick out a toy. She’s all about ponies right now! I don’t think she’s seen more than a few minutes of My Little Pony, but she loves the toys. She’s spent the last hour jumping on a mattress on the floor with her new pony. Whatever keeps her busy! Now it’s time for us to read the last chapter of Little House in the Big Woods. Good night!

No More Broody

Well, Rita has snapped out of her broodiness, it appears. Thank goodness! She was much more determined last year and wouldn’t give up until I let her hatch some eggs (one of which was Red!). I wonder how many other broody hens I’ll have to deal with before the end of the summer.

No eggs today! What a bunch of lazy chickens.

Another Rooster

Three eggs yesterday, one today. I caught Jellybean (above) crowing today. I mean, I was 95% sure he was a rooster, but I was still clinging to a shred of hope. I haven’t heard Beatrice crow, but I have no doubt that he’s a he, too. So three baby roosters and HOPEFULLY four pullets (young female chickens). I ordered only one roo, and I’m really not sure what I’ll wind up doing with two more. I don’t trust four roosters with eight hens in a coop (the roosters get aggressive with the hens when the ratio is that poor), so what — build a bachelor pad? Right now Beatrice and Jellybean are the friendliest of any of my chickens (young roosters often are, but Eddie is not!), but that might change as they mature. I’m not so sure the neighbors will want more of my roosters!

Baby Rooster

Little Beatrice. M is still adamant that we call him that, despite his almost-certain roosterness. Check out this little video clip of Eddie “crowing”. I could hardly believe it! Out of all our male chicks last summer (and they were ALL male), none of them crowed so early. They were all practically full-grown, and their crows sounded, you know, like actual rooster crows. This group of chicks has been feisty from the start, and Eddie is showing a lot of rooster behaviors already. When I fed them yesterday, he rushed over and started tidbitting (telling the others he had found good stuff to eat) in his little baby voice. He’ll even get between me and the other chicks when I visit. At least I know he’ll defend the flock when he grows up!

(Two eggs today. Rita’s not laying because she’s broody, so the other three must be taking turns having a day off.)

April Yuck

Two eggs today. And freezing rain. And snow! Which isn’t super unusual for Minnesota in April, but I don’t like the trickery involved — so many nice days, making me think we’re in the clear. There wasn’t any snow accumulation, but it still won’t be planting weather for a while yet. (In case you can’t tell, that’s frozen rain stuck to the bottom half of the windows.)

I’m reading Little House in the Big Woods (the first in the Little House on the Prairie series) to M right now. I’ve skipped some the parts about butchering meat… and how golden curls are prettier than “mud brown” hair… but we’ve been enjoying it, otherwise. I realized M really has been taking in the story when we looked at the icy snow out on the deck, and she declared it a “sugar snow”. Of course, she then started licking the window to see if it tasted like sugar. So she might have missed a couple important points there…