Home After Dark

Day 46 of 365

When you have a little farm or homestead, it can be difficult to be away from home for any extended length of time, especially in the evening. For the most part, we have structured our lives to fit very well with the “tucking in time” of our animals. We have great fences, but fences only do so much. I feel much better when everyone is tucked in tightly and all doors are closed.

This is Ruby and a few of her babies from earlier today. Ruby is one of the best chicken moms I have ever seen. This is her looking alert because one of her babies screamed a little. I was a witness, however, that the baby was just screaming because a sibling stepped on it. Ruby was on full alert though. She’s pretty magnificent.

This evening, our son, the cellist, had a concert on the coast. He played magnificently, by the way. When I say what our son is a cellist, I mean he’s really a cellist. It’s almost confusing to me. He played so well tonight that I almost couldn’t believe it. There’s this cognitive dissonance that this kid, who puts empty milk cartons, can make music like he does. He wants to be a professional cellist when he grows up, and I think he might do it.

If the world will just not fall apart. This is the little prayer I say all the time. But I guess that’s another post about the world and falling apart and such.

Anyway, we had promised our cellist an outdoor dining experience after his concert, so we went out to eat, which is something we pretty much never do. I mean, restaurant food, even from the really good restaurants, just usually isn’t as good as home food. We are spoiled to delicious organic food from the garden. Still, it was a beautiful restaurant, and I was excited. But our server forgot our ticket–twice–and for a very long time. It was tough. We waited about an hour for our ticket. I am sure the poor server was way overworked, so we did not want to complain. Of course, the trip home was a worry. It was past dark. I was so worried about our animals. I was mainly concerned about Ruby and her babies.

Every evening, before dark, I take Ruby’s crate, filled with Ruby and all her babies, and put them in the garage for extra safety. Tonight, Ruby and her crew had their crate but were outside way too late. I was trying not to panic on the trip home, but there was some panic.

Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, everyone was just fine when we got home. Ruby had all of her babies tucked in, and we now have all of them tucked in in the garage. The big chickens were fine, as were the ducks. Everyone is all buttoned up, and I am feeling relieved.

It was a long day but such a good day. I am so glad all is well.

There’s Nothing Like a Good Farm Dog

Day 38 of 365

Our Boudica is a miracle to me. I am forever in awe of how much of a help she is to us. Ron spent this week expanding our farming area into the woods a bit, and this is a bit of worry because predators of chickens live in the woods. I mentioned to Ron that we would want to let Boudica into the area before we put any chickens in the new space, and Ron was thinking the same thing.

And the new space is fantastic. My poor husband worked himself into exhaustion far too many nights this week, but he fenced a whole new area with a super sturdy fence. People always say that good fences make good neighbors, but I have come to be a believer that good fences make safe chickens. Still, we count on Boudica.

The coolest thing is that Boudica knows it. She loves her job, is very good at her job, and seems to completely understand how much we count on her. In fact, according to Boudica, we should be counting on her more. According to Boudica, it’s a miracle we make it in the world without her.

Tonight, after Ron and I moved the chickens to their fancy new space, Ron went to the house to get Boudica. “Let’s go see dad’s chickens,” he said to her. And, of course, Boudica went straight to the coop and began to survey the whole area. She understood what we needed from her and set to work on her new task. How fortunate are we to have her?

I realized tonight, as I watched her run across our yard with fireflies flickering in the trees, that Boudica is, indeed, a miracle and that, try as I might, I am sure I don’t deserve her. I also began to think the hard thought that she’s getting older, and it would be hard to do all of this without a farm dog like her.

When Gus passed away, Ron talked about getting another Pyrenees, but I couldn’t think about it at all. I still haven’t been able to think about too much, but I realize that Boudica will need to time to teach who is coming next.

But I won’t think about that right now. Boudica will be six years old the summer, and I am going to close my eyes right now and wish for twelve years at least with that girl.

It’s Thursday night, and my workload is heavy, so I will wrap up quickly. But I have to share that I have a helper when I grade papers now. This is Piatigorsky, named after the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and she is a mama’s girl. I can tell she’s a girl by her legs. I hope I’m not wrong. She rides on my arm while I work and grade papers and doesn’t even budge a little as I type. I adore her!

Feeding Scraps and Other Ways to Cut Your Chicken Feed Bill

Day 35 of 365

This weekend, I went to Tractor Supply for chicken feed. We buy organic, so it’s always been expensive. For months, I kept reading about chicken feed going up in price, but somehow, perhaps because organic feed was already so expensive, the price of the organic food we buy remained stable–until last month. Our already-expensive feed bill got a lot worse. On Saturday, I spent $215.00 on feed and came home to find just eight eggs for the day. It’s a good thing their poop is gold to us as gardeners!

Still, grain shortages and high feed prices have encouraged us to dig more deeply into ways to save on our feed bill. We have always fed scraps, and thankfully, our hens get to free range in a 3/4 acre area complete with trees, shrubs, and lots of insects. But I think it’s time to step up our game and work on other ways we can be more efficient in how we feed our chickens.

I’ve been reading in the chicken forums so many stories of people having to give up their chickens because of the rising costs of feed, but I can’t help but think, as times get harder, we are going to want to keep our chickens, as they not only provide us with eggs they also fertilize our gardens.

The following are some strategies we use or are planning to try. If you have others to add to the list, I would love to see them in the comments.

Feed scraps from your kitchen.

This just makes good sense to me. I have read that some people say that it’s not as healthy to do this and that your chickens will live longer if they are fed commercial food only, but the only study I have ever read on this topic was sponsored by a large producer of chicken feed–so I am skeptical. Chickens are omnivores and can eat what we eat, for the most part. In this photo I took recently of some scraps, I have a pile of organic quinoa, some leftover ground beef, cooked lasagna noodles that were extra (I cut them up into small pieces) and a head of lettuce from the garden.

Of course, you have to be reasonable. You should never feed your chickens rancid or rotten scraps. And chickens should not eat raw potatoes or peels, citrus, uncooked rice or beans, or avocado peels. Some people think chickens cannot eat tomatoes, but this is not true. Ripe tomatoes are wonderful; it’s just the leaves of the tomato plants that are bad. I have also read that chickens should not eat garlic or onions, but I think this may be because it will change the flavor of the eggs. You should also not feed your chickens chocolate, but I just can’t see this being an issue that often. One time, in an educational presentation, I did have a kiddo ask me if you could feed a chicken some birthday cake. I advised against it but said they could probably get away with a bite or two. Maybe I should have added only if the cake wasn’t chocolate.

But the list of what chickens cannot eat is short, and I feel chickens are a great way to turn food waste into fresh eggs. Our chickens eat leftover homemade bread, veggies, meat, pasta. Our rooster really loves Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese. We have a couple of glass bowls we keep in our fridge at all times. Every tiny scrap that is safe for chickens goes into the bowls. When the bowls are full (or before the food will go bad), the chickens get the scraps. The scraps also make our chickens happy. I mean, would you want to eat the same exact food every day for your whole life? Chickens like a little variety too, so the scraps are a win-win.

Let them eat bugs, if you can.

We are fortunate. My husband built a fence around 3/4 of an acre on our property, so our chickens get the best of both worlds. It’s like free ranging with protection. Free ranging without a fence comes with risks, but if you have a large fenced area, let them out in it when you can. Our chickens eat bugs, worms, grass, and, sadly, frogs. It makes their eggs taste great, and it helps cut down on feed costs. If you do not have a fenced area, you could even try free ranging when you are around. I do not recommend free ranging without a fence or without people present.

Of course, I know some people just have to do it this. And, when we first got our chickens, we free ranged before my husband built the fence. But we had some close calls with predators, and the chickens definitely didn’t know property lines. We had to get a fence up before our chickens had a party in our neighbor’s vegetable garden. That would have been terrible, and I think it’s important to remember that, though there are exceptions, when it comes to chickens, good fences generally make good neighbors.

Ferment your feed.

This is something I have not tried. I have been so nervous because I worry about making a mistake with this process, but I am very interested in fermenting our feed. I have heard from some reliable people that this has done wonders to cut down on their feed costs, and, apparently, there are health benefits to it as well.

The most detailed and helpful resource on fermenting feed I have found so far is this site from Grubbly Farms–The Benefits of Fermenting Chicken Feed. I have read through this and think this is what I am going to try this summer. That $215 feed bill left an impression.

Start a mealworm farm.

I am pretty close on this one. I have been researching starting a mealworm farm for a couple of years. I have now purchased the totes and think this one is very do-able and seems highly efficient. My chickens love mealworms, but they cost a fortune in the little containers at the pet store, and my picky chickens won’t eat the dried ones. It’s fresh or nothing, I guess.

I found this fantastic video called How to Build a Mealworm Farm that has been helpful. This seems fairly simple, right?

Sprout seeds.

I have done this just a little but need to do it more. Essentially, you just take seeds that are safe for sprouting, such as sunflower seeds, alfalfa, or hard red wheat berries, and you sprout them in jars. These are fantastic treats, and it makes the seeds go further. This page from Homestead and Chill provides detailed instructions and a full list of seeds that are safe for sprouting.

Along these lines, you can also grow your own seeds. We do not have a lot of space, but we love to grow sunflowers anyway. We just started focusing on the sunflowers that produce seeds. The giant sunflowers like the Titan and the Mammoth Grey Stripe produce seeds that you can feed to your flock or sprout to make them go even further.

I hope this list is helpful, and, again, I hope you will add to it if you have additional ideas. I think it’s so important to share knowledge and to work together, as thanks to this terrible war in the Ukraine coupled with climate change, these grain shortages might be here for the foreseeable future.

His Garden Grows in Perfect Rows

Day 28 of 365

His garden is so perfect that people think he must use a rototiller. He does not. Everything is done by hand. He disturbs the soil just enough to get the chicken compost from our chickens into the rows where he is planting. And he wastes no space. He’s a master of space usage. I’ve never seen anything like it. I honestly never understood what a fantastic skill it is to have–space usage. I mean, he can load the dishwasher like a magician, but that just annoys me. I feel my way is fine.

But in the garden–in that garden–I have full appreciation for his skill and his perfectionism. I used to help plant more. I still do sometimes, but it’s only after he’s used the string to mark the places for me to plant. One time, I just made my own row, and when the carrots came up with a bit of an s-shape to them, I think it broke his heart a little.

He’s frugal to a fault, if there is such a thing in the garden. He uses every nook and cranny of the garden. He wastes no water. It’s too precious. He waters by hand and aims for deep watering with as little water as possible. Any extra water from the house is saved for the garden. He also plants seeds without the plan to thin them later, so as to not waste the seeds. This seems bold to me, but he just knows the seeds will come up. He talks to them to make sure.

He also plays music for them, classical music. Every day, in the garden, he listens to Bach and Vivaldi and Mozart. So do the plants. I don’t know if it’s the chicken compost, the classical music, or Ron’s magic touch, but every year, whether there is drought or so much rain some of the food starts to rot in the ground, this garden feeds our family.

And this year, we have our first farm shares. It took him years to have the confidence to do it, but I can see that he’s proud to share his work with others. This makes my heart happy. Not only do other families get to share in this delicious, beautiful, organic food, but I can see there is a pride growing in a man beaten down by life early and often.

It’s a kind of miracle to me that this garden, this work of art of a vegetable garden that feeds our family year round, heals. But it does.

And isn’t it lovely?

***

I have to quickly add a Ruby and Kate update. Ruby has become a fierce mama–like a little too fierce, perhaps–but her babies are very well cared for. Kate is now sitting on an egg that may have to be a miracle egg. I have put three other eggs from our flock under her as of yesterday, which means she may have to have wait another 20 days before she finally gets to be mama. It’s all kind of heartbreaking, but I will feed her well and help her get through this. I believe she deserves to be mama after all that drama. Plus, she looks healthy despite having been broody for over two weeks now. Of course, there is still the miracle egg. I won’t write about it until I check it again in a few days. It’s a long story. Hopefully, it’s a good story. We’ll know soon.

Duck Game

Day 22 of 365

We have seven Indian Runner ducks (six females and one male), and they are magnificent. We have had them for over four years now, and every night for four years, we all play a game. It starts with peas and ends with a tail shake and many circles around the duck house. I call it our “duck game.”

Before I explain the duck game, I feel I should explain Runner ducks for those who do not know. Runner ducks are suspicious of EVERYTHING. And I do mean everything. We raised these babies by hand, but if I am wearing the hood on my robe on cold days, I cannot be identified and must be feared. They will run, quack, and just in general make me feel like a horrible person who is surely an eater of ducks.

Our male duck, Antonio, falls in love with me every spring and summer. When he hears my voice, he comes running from across the field to see me. He gets pets and snuggles. He stands on my shoes and tells me he loves me. He does this every single time–until I try to video him. Then, there’s the phone–a foreign object that cannot be trusted and may, in fact, eat ducks.

And, of course, there’s the peas. Every single night of my life, I warm up one pound of frozen peas in a medium-sized white bowl, add warm water, and deliver said peas to said ducks before they go to bed. Every single night. Rain, sleet, or snow. When the pandemic first started and everyone else was scrambling to buy toilet paper, yeast, and flour, I was trying to secure frozen peas.

One time, I accidentally ran out of peas. I tried frozen blueberries. Ducks love blueberries. But, no, before bed, it’s only frozen peas. One night, I tried fresh peas from our garden. Hard no. Only frozen peas. Early on, I used a different bowl one night. Hard no. All bowls other than the medium-sized white bowl are suspect. One cold winter night, when there had been a snowstorm and the ducks had been hunkered down all day without eating much, I tried to bring them TWO medium-sized white bowls full of peas. Hard pass. Two was scary.

So, yeah, routine is important.

After the peas are devoured, it’s time for the game to begin. We start slowly. We go around the duck house one time, two times, three times. Usually, after round one or two, our one chocolate Runner duck we rehabilitated heads into the duck house. She doesn’t trust me. It’s been three years, but you never know when I might try again to give her medicine. You just never know. (I will have to write more about her soon. Her name is Anna Maria, and she’s a little miracle to me.)

The rest keep going. We go around and around the duck house a few more times. As we go, a few more ducks will peel off and head into the duck house. Sometimes, Boudica helps me, and we can get the ducks into the house in just maybe six or so rounds. There have been times, however, on my own, that I have made over twenty circles around the duck house. I remember feeling dizzy from the circles as I leaned into the duck house to say goodnight and close the door.

Antonio tries to help every single night. His raspy little quack tries to boss the girls around, but there are two girls who like to play way too much. No matter how much he tries to help (and he tries everything, from standing at the duck house door rasping at them to coming back out of the house himself and trying to herd them in on the next round), two girls refuse to be bossed around by him.

They are the last ones up every single night, and one, our smallest duck who is full of personality, is almost always the very last. The first time I realized this might be fun for her was one night, after everyone else had gone into the house, she stood at the door. “I might go in,” she seemed to say. “But I might not.”

I froze. She froze. I was hopeful. Maybe she was going in. But then, she wagged her little tail and took off again around the duck house. “This duck is messing with me,” I said to myself.

Now, after so many nights of this same scene with her, I realize it is absolutely a game. I also realized the tail wag was a good thing for sure when I saw my husband feeding grubs and worms to the ducks as he was breaking new ground for more garden area. The ducks would come when he called for them, grab a snack, and then wag their tails with delight. It’s just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Most nights, I love to play the duck game with this little duck. Every now and then, in the rain, I am begging her to please just go to bed. Of course, she loves the rain. Just loves it.

I have thought that I might not know what to do with myself without the duck game. It has become this fantastic part of my life, my routine, and I feel pretty fortunate to know these ducks. I love that I do this every night of my life. In fact, it’s bedtime for ducks. I need to go play duck game.

***

I have a quick Ruby and Kate update. Kate is still broody and doing well. I find out tomorrow if there will be babies for me to pick up for her. And Ms. Ruby is a VERY good mama! I can see there are six babies for sure. There might be seven, as there were seven eggs under her, but all I can see right now is a sea of little legs when I lift Ruby. I hate to bother them too much, but I figure we will know for sure very soon how many babies she has hatched. In a few days, she will be taking her babies on field trips. I love the field trips!

Ruby is a mama!!!

Day 21 of 365

I am sitting on our deck as I write this, and I am listening to the baby Eastern Phoebes softly cheep for their parents. I have watched both parents go out, catch bugs, and come back to the nest all afternoon. Apparently, both the mom and the dad work hard to feed baby Eastern Phoebes, and I am thankful for all of the bug catching. But both parents are away right now, and I can just barely see movement from the rim of the best. I long to see more, but I remember my promise and keep my distance.

It must be in the air. Our Eastern Phoebe babies hatched yesterday, and then, today, when we got home from our son’s cello lessons, I thought I heard a faint cheep in the garage. And then I heard a mama hen purr, and I knew for sure! Ruby is a mama for the very first time today! She seems to be over the moon, and I am over the moon for her.

So far, two of her seven eggs have hatched, and they are a day or so early, which seems to happen a lot. One baby chick seems shy. The other seems curious about my voice. Thankfully, Ruby is being great about me taking some peeks, and I am so grateful to her for that. She pecked me a bit when I lifted her a little just to see what was going on, but it wasn’t too hard. I do need to remember to give her some space, but it’s so great when the mama hens let you in a little bit.

I honestly haven’t had a mama hen be this gentle and open in quite a few years, and this surprises me about Ruby. She’s generally a pretty grumpy girl. Not today though. Today, she’s a proud, loving mama. It’s magnificent to see.

Ron is working in the garden doing big work today. I helped for a bit but had to head inside for teaching work. Of course, every time I finish a little bit of grading, I go see what Ruby and the babies are doing. And, of course, every time I do this, I find it necessary to go out to the garden to give Ron a report. Ron is not nearly so interested though.

Our wonderful neighbor came outside to her garden (our gardens are adjacent), and Ron was like, “Why don’t you show her the babies.” I got the hint and was so thankful she came over to “ooh and ahh” with me over the babies. I will try to get a video soon, so you can “ooh and ahh” with me too.

And I have to give a quick shout out and thank you to Why Not Farms in Maine. This is where the Salmon Faverolle eggs that Ruby has been sitting on came from. I am so thankful!

Night Moves

Day 19 of 365

Well, dear readers, it worked! Kate remains broody and has accepted being broody in her new digs!

Late last night, I snuck into the coop where she was sleeping in the nest box. I bird-napped the poor girl but took her warm eggs with her. Well, most of the eggs.

I had left three eggs under her, but when I scooped her up, I could find just two eggs. I have had broody hens hang onto the eggs, so I kept feeling around her the best I could. I finally had to give up and just accept the two eggs and Kate. Just as we made it to the garage, from some Kate crevice, out popped the egg onto the garage floor. No matter though. The two eggs did the trick.

Look at Kate in her new chicken mama house! She’s so cute in there I almost can’t stand it.

When I went to check on her this morning, she was on her eggs! She had even built up a little nook of a nest with the straw and seemed quite content. Phase 1 of operation Copper Maran complete. Next week will be the most stressful part, but I’m thankful for finally convincing Kate the dog crate will be a safer starter home for her baby chicks.

I have discovered, over the years, that you can get away with a lot at night when it comes to chickens. That’s why I decided to move Kate at night. It also has to be at night when we switch out her eggs with baby chicks. When I have to do any kind of health check on chickens, I do that at night as well.

I don’t know exactly what happens to chickens at night, but I guess they sleep hard. I may have to research this. In fact, I will have to research this. One of the best tricks of chicken keeping is learning to do the stuff you need to do at night. In fact, when you introduce new chickens to your flock, it’s best to do it at night. I mean, you do some minor daytime introduction, but you make the big move at night. This is considered a chicken keeping best practice.

If the chickens wake up together, they are more likely to accept each other. It’s like, “oh, I guess you’ve been here all along. I’ll go with this.”

There are many ways chickens are like humans. Chickens are curious, brave, stubborn, social, petty, mean, and they definitely have cliques. Temple Grandin, scientist and animal behaviorist, has said that animal emotions are like human emotions, only simpler. Not that she needs confirmation, but I can definitely confirm this through my observations. I am forever amazed at basic similarities between us, I guess because chickens are also social animals.

One of the cutest things is that my flock conveys hope and disappointment so obviously. My wonderful neighbor feeds our chickens healthy scraps at the garden gate all the time. The chickens know her very well, so every time she comes out to her garden, they come running–so hopefully! I will see her sometimes say something to them, something along the lines of “I don’t have any treats today.” Those chickens will slowly turn around, heads dropped, and gradually head back to what they were doing with such an air of disappointment. It’s the cutest thing ever.

But chickens and humans differ in some key ways, of course. If I woke up in the morning to find five or six new people in my house, there would be some freaking out.

***

And I have to add a quick Ruby update, of course. She’s doing well. She had watermelon for a treat today, and she has just three to four days to go! Babies should start hatching on Tuesday or so.

The Trouble with Kate

Day 18 of 365

I have to write quickly tonight, as I have more chicken work to do thanks to Kate. I love that chicken to the moon and back, but I should have known she was going to be difficult with all of this chicken mama business. She was the most difficult, sassy baby chick I have ever seen. Of course, this made me fall madly in love with her.

I want terribly for her to get to be a mama. Unfortunately, when I went to check on her this morning, she acted like she wanted out of the crate. I am not one to force anyone into motherhood, as it’s the toughest job in the world, so I opened the crate and let her go first thing this morning. She went back with the flock and was scratching around in the grass this morning.

This is Kate with her “Shakespeare crew” when they were young. That’s her in the back. Can’t you just tell she marches to her own beat? Her sister, Bianca, is front left. She’s also super sweet. The chicken right in front is the infamous Juliet. The beautiful rooster is Romeo. We kept him for a long time because he was beautiful, but he started terrorizing some hens. Romeo had to go, sadly.

She has been broody for nearly two weeks, so I thought surely the move would work. But when I saw her with the flock, I thought maybe she had decided against broodiness and that the move to the crate had broken her broodiness.

However, about 15 minutes later, I saw her back in the nest box acting all broody–screaming at people in the coop. (I feel like it is important to know that I call animals people. There are chicken people, duck people. It’s not that I do not understand that they are a different species. It is just that we don’t have a word in our language to convey the fact that I see them as different but not lesser. When I read in Braiding Sweetgrass that Native American languages have words for “bear people” and “chicken people,” I was moved to tears.)

Anyway, Kate was back in the nesting box, doing her dinosaur scream at anyone who wanted to lay an egg today. I just shook my head and realized I needed a special plan for such a special chicken.

So, this is my plan, I let her keep the eggs under her this evening instead of collecting them. Then, at night tonight, I’m going to pull her out of the nesting box, keep the eggs right with her, and put her in the crate with the warm eggs. My hope is that keeping her belly warm with the warm eggs will help keep her focused on being broody. I’m trying to not “break the spell” if that makes sense.

I am about to head out there right now and try this. Wish me luck. I am supposed to pick up baby chicks from the breeder next week. If Kate won’t agree to this new arrangement tonight, I’m going to have to enlist Jane. She has done this before and knows the drill. She made the move just fine last year. But, goodness, she was a bossy mama and didn’t co-parent very well at all.

So, please cross your fingers for Kate. She is generally a very sweet hen. She’s just–particular about things.

Grow Your Own

Day 15 of 365

Before we had chickens and ducks, we had a garden. The first time I ate a tomato from our garden, I thought I might cry. I didn’t even think I liked tomatoes very much. Then, I had a tiny sun gold tomato standing in our garden, and truly, it was like the sun had infused its magic into a tiny, delicious orange ball. 

I was hooked. 

I guess my husband was as well. Since that time 10 years ago, he has devoted himself each spring, summer, and fall to growing the food the feeds our family. Right now, if you count the garden, chicken and duck eggs, and the broiler chickens we raise, we grow somewhere around 60 percent of the food our family eats. Beyond that, we buy from local farms as much as possible, but we definitely do our best to grow our own. We do all this on about 1.6 acres. We are evidence that you don’t have to have a lot of space to do this. In fact, part of our property is still wooded.

It’s not easy work, of course. Outside of the epic work my husband does to start seedlings, plant rows (he grows perfect rows), compost the chicken poop for fertilizer, water in the most creative, water-conserving ways possible, and will the plants into beautiful growth, we have to focus our food preparation around the things we grow. 

This didn’t happen overnight. I grew up on Hamburger Helper, and though Ron had grown up on homegrown food, as an adult, he had also shifted his diet to the frozen foods section in the grocery store. And, as a cook, it took me some time to figure out how to use things like cabbage and beets. Additionally, even for the things I knew how to cook and use, like green beans, I had to find ways to use them a lot more frequently. We now eat a lot of green beans.  

Right now, our garden is just getting started, but the chicken and duck eggs are in full season. But we are eating greens every night for dinner (mostly spinach), eggs for every breakfast (and sometimes dinner), and I have learned to make several wonderful treats with rhubarb. 

My plan is to share some of the recipes I use that help us eat so well from farm to table. I have become quite efficient at cooking and storing food from the garden–from the spinach in the spring to the tomatoes and squash of fall. I think I can share some wisdom here. I mean, I’m going to try.

I’m going to start tomorrow with a little rhubarb recipe I kind of made up. I just don’t know yet if it’s a jam or a jelly. I think jelly, but I don’t want to steer you wrong and have to do some research. 

More on this tomorrow…

***

In the meantime, on the Ruby front, all is well. She had eggs and toast for breakfast and drank some of her water. It’s very nice and cool in the garage, and the sun comes in well. She seems to be pretty content. 

I have also decided that Kate will be our next mama, but we are going to try something different. Because she has been broody awhile, instead of getting hatching eggs for her this week, the chicken breeder I am working with says he can just sell me some chicks I want next week. So, this is exciting but also adds an element of drama. It will involve taking eggs from under Kate and replacing them with live chicks at night. We have about a 98% success rate with this, but we had one failure, which means I always have anxiety. Still, I am hopeful. Kate’s a good girl, and this strategy works almost all the time. We’re getting some Black Copper Marans and maybe some Blue Marans. If we get some girls, we will then be able to add chocolate colored eggs to our collection, and my little egg rainbow will be complete.