Today is sunny and warm and we have about 1200 daffodils all around the farm that are standing tall with blooms a day or two away from opening. The greenhouse is ALIVE with salad greens! Some are leftover from fall and going to flower and seed, others are ready for eating. Chard, orach, kale, parsley, brussel sprout and borage flowers, pea sprouts and five kinds of heirloom lettuce make their way into every salad we eat these days.
This is the time of year when we feel like we are nearly caught up and in another two weeks I’ll wonder whatever possessed me to imagine something like that. For the past two weeks Joseph and our farm helper, Tom, have been banging nails and sawing wood. They’ve made two “last a hundred years” grape arbors, put a new roof on the stairs porch, cleaned up the barn, and are about to finish last year’s tile project in the guest cottage.
We just finished grafting 103 heirloom apple trees onto rootstock. We sold half of them last fall to folks who attended our Heirloom Apple Tasting and kept the rest to plant here. The holes are dug and soon as I finish lunch we’re going to get them in the ground. Our goal is to have 200 different kinds growing here in the next few years.
Back in central Massachusetts my dad built our family home on seven acres of apple orchard he bought from our elderly neighbors, botanists especially interested in apples. I grew up in an orchard where each apple tasted different than the one next to it and ever since have been enamored of apples. It’s no surprise that I want to create our version of that magic place on our farm.
The apple trees are ready to bud out and the cherries and pears have a few blossoms already open. I checked on the bees and even though we have little bloom out, they are arriving back at the hive with pantaloons full of golden pollen which they found somewhere on the outskirts of the valley.
Our first dozen baby chicks hatched January 29th and are now fully feathered and chasing bugs in the grass. They’ve moved out of our mudroom into the broody coop. Next week they’ll join the bigger ladies. The hens in our main flock who are at the bottom of the pecking order will, in a few short hours, ascend to midway up that ladder. Alas, the little ones will be the bottom gang but soon as they’re full grown in a few months there’ll be another shift and they rearrange themselves again.
Brenda, our neighbor who teaches the Backyard Chicken class, has a hundred chicks ready for our first annual Rent-A-Chick season. Many people buy their kids baby chicks for Easter but a week later they’ve lost interest and drop them off at the Humane Society. Sad because it doesn’t teach the kids an appreciation of life, just that animals are entertainment. We’re renting the chicks for a week or two at a time, over the next few months. This way people can tryout keeping them and see if it’s something they might like to do on a longer basis, too. We even made it onto the 6 o’clock news!
Brenda’s got the little babies all ready to go home in a fully setup box with a warming light, feeder, waterer, roosting bench, bedding, food and two chirpy little chicks along with lessons in how to care for them. They get to keep them for a week. People start coming by today to get the first batch and we’ll go right through summer. The folks who want to keep them will be invited to the “Backyard Chickens from A to Z” class where we can show them how to raise these ladies in a good way. Fresh eggs for breakfast!
Speaking of chickens, they’re laying twice as many now that the days are longer. This week’s abundance has turned into spinach and scallion quiche, vanilla and chocolate custard, omelets, deviled eggs and blackberry crepes from the berries we picked last fall. If you live on a farm, you don’t go hungry.