Julep and her puppies are all doing really well! The chubby little pups are starting to open their eyes and are wiggling their way all around the puppy pen. So cute!
(That's Cosmo - don't you just want to smoosh him?!)
The laying hens are all loving the beautiful weather we've been having - dust bathing, eating bugs and *gasp* mice, and giving me about a dozen eggs every day. The meat chickens are happy being outside, and I'm happy to have the barn back! The little replacement layers are growing up... I'm a little worried that all of the Easter Egger chicks are boys, but we'll see in a few more weeks. The baby turkeys are getting huge, and there's still one turkey poult with an identity crisis who keeps trying to join the chicks:
The bacon is doing fantastic! Yesterday they managed to tip over the barrel reservoir for their water and catch their waterer nipple so that it was stuck open - they created a wallow for themselves! They had a grand ole time in a giant mud puddle during the 90 degree heat :)
The gardens are also going well so far. We're getting a crap-ton of asparagus, and I finally made home-made pesto from our basil - dear god. I don't really like pesto, generally speaking, but I ate approximately all of the pasta with pesto and LURVED it! Mmmm. Most of the garden is planted, but we still have to put in pumpkins, various squash, watermelons, corn, a couple more varieties of beans, and some miscellaneous things (2nd round of salad greens, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage...). The tomatoes are absolutely beautiful:
That's a row of them about a week ago right after transplanting - they've perked up and gotten about a foot taller each. Cannot wait for fresh tomatoes and salsa and sauce!!
And in other news, Perrin and Tia are still looking for their forever families! We're REALLY hoping they can find homes before the puppies get much bigger - soooo much work, I really don't have time for the farming stuff plus that many fosters plus my full-time job. So please spread the word that 2 awesome pibbles need homes!
The meat chickens moved outside to their hoop house tractor on Saturday:
I put a tarp over the top too, so they're protected from the rain and shaded from the hot sun. They seem pretty happy out there though! I know I'm happier - the barn was starting to stink! Supposedly if you put enough carbon (pine shavings in our case) under them, their manure won't stink because of science or something ;) But I put a lot of dollars worth of pine shavings under them twice a day, rotated them twice a day, and it still stank to high heaven in there! They're seriously poop machines!
It certainly doesn't help that we ended up with 76 of them in this first batch - 31 (out of 75) survived the original shipment disaster, so we almost doubled the amount we were planning on keeping (the rest went to friends). Future batches are just 30 chicks each, and that will definitely help with the odor issue!
The future-layer chicks and the baby turkeys are still inside the barn:
The turkeys are getting huge! They'll be ready to go outside in another week or two. The layers are still so tiny and fluffy - I'm guessing it could be another month before they're ready to brave the weather. One of the turkeys is having an identity crisis - every time I go into the barn, I find him/her in the layer chick stall. They share a half-wall between their stalls, and this little guy seems to prefer being a chicken. Maybe he knows his fate is not as sweet as theirs...
In other news, we made a lot of progress on the garden on Saturday before I came down with the plague on Sunday! We laid down soaker hose and landscape fabric, put in the wire cages, and planted 2 varieties of peas and 2 varieties of cucumbers. We also transplanted the tomatoes - all 11 varieties. I know, it's too early to move tomatoes outside in Vermont, and we're taking a risk there, but I started them too early inside (thinking that our lack of winter would lead to a ridiculously early spring), so they were just too big. They needed to go in the ground. And our window box salad is doing marvelously. Oh oh oh!!! Asparagus!!! I harvested our first asparagus yesterday - 11 delicious stalks :) Hooray for spring!
Last year I learned that grapes grow at Dave's family's camp, so we picked them and turned them into jelly... mmm! We decided to do it again this year, but I haven't had time to devote an entire day to jelly-making. So instead we spent part of the day on Saturday with Dave's parents, picking the grapes, and turning them into juice that we've now frozen - when I have some more time, I'll take it out and make the jelly... and maybe wine...
Dave helped pick them - you can't see him though, cause he's wearing camo ;-)
Dave's mom helped too!
Dave's dad manned the juicer, turning the grapes into delicious, rich juice, and then we squeezed the pulp through cheesecloth to get the last bit of liquid out. We ended up with 3 gallons of juice! That'll be a lot of jelly... or wine...
It's hot out. Time for a dust bath:
Oh yeah, that's the stuff.
Even the pond is too warm!
At least the peas are loving the heat:
My old elementary school is hatching creatures this spring! The kindergarteners are hatching chicks (both meat birds and layers), and the first graders are hatching ducklings. So of course, who could pass up free baby creatures...
32 meat birds (Cornish X) are happily hanging out in my basement now. They're adorable... but they're food. So I'm calling them "The Nuggets" instead of "the babies" like I usually refer to new chicks.
Good job, lil Nugget! Grow me some delicious wings!
Um... I mean... NOTHING SORRY MOVE ALONG NOW!
Here are the old babies - they're kind of ginormous now:
And Poofball Head has a delightful beard to go with his poof:
We added a disproportionately tiny sign to the layer coop:
We found more food in the garden too! Lemon rosemary smells AMAZING! You should really invest in a scratch-n-sniff screen so you could experience this:
And we found chives too:
I decided not to do asparagus this year because I like instant gratification too much and have absolutely no patience. See, it takes 3 years to establish a bed and actually harvest anything from it, and 3 years is approximately all of the years. But good news! Dave found asparagus in our garden! It was poking out of mysterious dead giant stalks that we hadn't gotten around to pulling out and/or rototilling yet. Good thing, since it turns out they are food. See:
Some of the stalks are GINORMOUS:
So we joyfully harvested some for dinner:
Do you see the joy? It was pretty intense. But seriously, I had no idea how AMAZING freshly picked asparagus is! Usually the stuff from a store is really stringy and fibrous and kind of bitter. This stuff melted in my mouth (and we ended up eating it raw cause we ate it all before we got around to cooking it). So hooray for surprise food!
Jen & Dave Paul, owners & operators of Old Post Farm