Every day it isn’t raining, I’m out in the garden now. I’ve got so much that needs to be done asap!
I just got the word that my new Brinsea incubator has shipped ahead of schedule, which means I should have it next week, rather than March 16th. Good news, because now (as soon as I test it) I can place an order for more Blonde Quail hatching eggs. Bad news, because this makes building Loki’s coop even more of a priority than before.
We did get a start on the foundation, before we were hit with a little snow.
I dug out the center of one curve of my circular flower bed, and laid down a foundation of cinder blocks. Leveling those was the most difficult part of the project; mom (as the expert leveler) was kind enough to help out. I think she’s more invested in Loki, since he was the baby she had to help out of the shell, and he hatched right into her hand.
The male quail are beginning to feel the stirring of Spring – they are crowing again. I hadn’t heard a peep out of them all winter, and I really missed it. Mom and I both enjoy the sound – it’s almost worth keeping quail just for that!
On top of the cinder blocks is a frame of 2×6 boards. I wanted to raise this coop up, to make viewing the quail a little more easy, while still keeping them on a natural dirt floor. I’ll lay down a liner, then fill this frame with dirt, as if I were making a raised bed. The coop itself will be built on top. I’ll show you more pictures as it comes together.
Another project we built this weekend was a new trellis for one of the clematis.
I’ve been slowly working on adding compost to the vegetable beds, and I can’t wait to get started with some actual planting. The peas, I think, will go in next week. I’ve started chitting them in the windowsill already; I use the paper towel method, and it works wonderfully!
I also have a few vegetables started under the grow lights. It’s nice to see something green! This is a little Emiko cabbage. I haven’t grown those before, but so far it’s doing great, as well as being very pretty.
In chicken news, I really would like to get a couple more chicks this Spring: an Ameraucana (to replace the rooster I accidentally picked last year) and a Speckled Sussex. Both those breeds are in at the local farm supply store on March 14th, and May 16th. Last year, my reliably broody hen, Josie, raised three chicks for me. I just bought them, popped them under her, and she didn’t put a foot wrong. She was a perfect mother! It did wonders for her self-esteem, too. She went from being the shy, bottom-of-the-pecking hen to the One In Charge. All she has to do is stamp her foot, and the other hens give way to her immediately. I was a little worried the power would go to her head, and she’d become a bully, but thankfully, that hasn’t happened.
Josie is the black hen inside. Her two foster daughters from last year are the cream-and-black one beside her Isabelle) , and the grey one (Little Blue) in front. I love this system of fostering! There was no fuss or problems, it was so sweet watching her care for them, and the other girls accepted the new ones into the flock without any difficulties. And since Josie is friendly to me, her babies were too. Little Blue in particular loves to sit on my lap. Whenever I sit down, she comes running.
I’m just hoping Josie goes broody again at the right time!
I’m also really looking into meat ducks. I don’t have a proper set-up to keep ducks year-around yet (and no time or money to build this year) so I’m considering just getting a few white Pekin ducklings and keeping them in temporary housing. Ducks don’t need much, and Pekins grow so fast that they are ready to process at 7 weeks old! I looked into having a professional do the processing for me, but it’s too pricey. $17 per duck! So I’ve been doing a ton of research online, and I think I’m up to doing it myself. Helping process the quail taught me a lot. The kill itself is super fast, and if you do it right, there’s no suffering for the animal. And once the animal is dead, I found I don’t have the negative feelings I thought I might have, about plucking, dressing out, etc. And when it comes right down to it, I want to be the sort of person who can kill her own meat. I don’t believe in the vegetarian lifestyle, but I want meat that is humanely raised, and fed only healthy feed. And when it comes time to butcher, I like the idea of having control over the process, so that I know the animal didn’t suffer.
Pekin ducklings come into the store on March 5th. If I’m going to do this, I need to get set up now! This would be a nice test run to make sure I can handle the processing before I spend a lot of time and money setting up a permanent duck coop and run. And if I can handle raising meat ducks, I’m thinking about the possibility of raising a few meat chickens each year too – in a temporary run separate from my egg-laying girls. Cornish Cross hens are ready to process at 8 weeks, and actually can’t naturally live much beyond that without developing health problems. Things to consider!
And if all this talk of meat animals was too much for you, here’s a flower picture for you. Thanks to the slug-egg-eating prowess of my chickens, this is the first year this plant has been able to bloom without all its flowers getting eaten off as mere buds. I forgot how gorgeous it is!