Friday, April 24, 2009

Homestead Update

The girls are back! This morning I retrieved my three surviving hens from their winter camp. They look pathetic and very bedraggled. I know they were well cared for by my farming friend, but they were also housed with a rooster, so they've taken quite a bit of abuse from him. Their feathers are so beaten up they look like they've got mange. By way of explanation my friend informed me that all the hens get worked over by the rooster, but the older the hen, the more brittle her feathers. So my girls' feathers broke off more easily. She added that she's sure my girls will be happy to return to their "cloistered existence" on the mini-homestead.

I got them home and squared away by 9 am. Then I came inside, had the cup of tea I'd had to forego when I dashed off early to get the girls, did some housework, and by 10:30, what do you think? These three-year-old hens are laying champs! We are delighted to have the girls back, and to once again have good reason to save little tiny bits of food for them. I've really missed being able to do more with stray grains of cooked oatmeal and rice than just chuck them in the compost. The home economy is once again back on track now that the girls are home. Here's hoping their feathers grow in quickly.

I also wanted to let the curious among you know that we enjoyed some of those mystery turnip/mustard/nabi├ža greens with dinner last night. They were just slightly bitter, but went very well with nice fatty servings of salmon. So satisfying to have something fresh and green from the garden this time of year. They cooked down quite a bit, so in future I'll gather much more of them for dinner. Though it usually bothers me not to know things with certainty, I'm quite content to keep growing this plant without knowing for sure exactly what it is. Any plant that does so well in my area with so little help from me, and that comes up very early in the spring to provide fresh greens, AND which I can feed to the chickens is more than welcome and worth keeping around. This to me seems the essence of sustainable living.

We've got summertime weather forecast for the next few days. Sunny and hot, with temps reaching up into the 80s F! (That's the high 20s C, for you civilized folk.) So we're going to try to get as many of the remaining spring chores done as we can while the sun shines. We're still two weeks ahead of our average last frost date.

I leave you with some completely gratuitous shots of my friend's adorable farm animals. I got to hold some of these darling lambs this morning. My cat sniffed my coat for quite a while when I got home. Have a great weekend everyone!

I meet the goat "kids." When I first saw them the one on the left was nursing from its mother. The kid was about 85% of the size of mom. Friend said these were the runts of the litter last year and were too small for butchering at that time.

Two of the triplets born to one sheep get some supplemental goat's milk. It was out of the goat for about 3 minutes before the lambs got to enjoy it.

Sheep moms get wearied out by shenanigans too. They make pretty good furniture though.


Tina said...

We've been talking about getting a couple of backyard chickens. From what I can tell from the partial pics, your coop looks very nice and not too big. Would you mind posting a pic of your coop? I've searched your blog, but can't seem to find one.

Thanks so much! I love reading your blog.

Becca's Dirt said...

Tina asked the same thing that I was gonna ask. Can you post a pic of your coup and chicken area. I am planning on getting me some chicks and setting up for chickens and a couple of goats. Any info you could pass along will be much appreciated. If you wish you can email me at Thanks and have a nice weekend.

Sue said...

Your girls will get their feathers back in no time. And how nice to have the fresh eggs!

Kate said...

Tina & Becca, yes, I will post a picture and much discussion of the coop and pen this week. This post has been a long time coming. I seem to have a lot to say about this relatively simple set up. Stay tuned!

Sue, I sure hope so! And yes, it's delightful to have fresh eggs again.