The Sun Hangs Low

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunset Homesteading

Daylight savings time has given this farm a special gift. The extra hours of daylight allows enough time to let the chickens out in the garden every evening. For a few brief hours they can play and run, scratch in the dirt and dig for bugs. Then before I head back into the house, I move them all back into the safety of their little coop. Most of the winter they’ve been stuck inside since heavy rains turned their outside run into a pond. But now the rains have subsided and the water has retreated into the soil. The flock can run out in the open again. And, you should see them go – running around, well, like chickens with their heads cut off – flapping their wings and squawking like mad.

So, while Brianne is working her show lambs, I walk over to the coop, grab a handful of scratch, unlatch the door and entice them out. It doesn’t take much, before they are happily pecking and scratching at dropped bits of grain and hay on the barn floor. When I first open the coop door, the smaller bantams are reluctant, but the Blue Cochin (Blue Boy) makes a beeline for freedom, followed by three Arucana hens. In the end, even the timid girls venture out. Eventually, they all make it into the wide open world. I follow behind moving them toward the garden and out of sight of the sheep. Not that the sheep will do any harm, it’s just that the chickens are a distraction while Brianne is working her lambs.

This weekend saw days in the 60’s and is slowly absorbing what’s left of the standing water in the garden. I’ve started turning garden beds, and getting my early season veggies in. Lettuces, peas, broccoli, onions… (you get the idea.) But there is so much to do outside right now; the garden is constantly in the back of my mind.

Yesterday was a hard core farm day. We spent most of the afternoon working outside. We had to clean out old bedding in the chicken coop and replace it with fresh and the sheep pen needed to be raked out too. We hauled 50lb bags of sheep feed and lay mash over our shoulders. We moved the rack of firewood, that stands near the back door for easy access during rainstorms, to it’s off season location on the south side of the house. And when we weren’t doing intense physical labor we were tending to the early blooming flowers. We also collected eggs, checked on overall bird health and trimmed a few toenails and spurs. The lambs’ hooves were also trimmed and checked for signs of foot rot (a common condition in wet weather when there is standing water). We even managed to clean out the rabbit hutch and move all that glorious, nutrient rich manure to the compost pile. Needless to say, we came in from our long day dirty, sore and tired, but happy that we were able to accomplish so much. A long hot bath, a warm home cooked meal and good book enjoyed in a quiet room set us back on tract though.

It was all worth it.

I’ve got a pot of tea on now, and listening to the chicks in their box house beside me while I type is like a sweet symphony.

In a few moments I’ll go out to feed the dogs and refill the chicks’ water and food. But, for now, I think the dogs and I are going to sit here and enjoy some music and Earl Gray tea. It’s not like they haven’t been through this before. Enjoy your evening folks.

Creative Commons License photo credit: opimentas

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