Our raised beds warm up pretty fast, and  I was able to plant Maxigolt peas today.  Of course, we are just about to  enter Mud Season here in New Enlgand and a Nor’ Easter is on the way tomorrow, but I planted them anyway!  Last weekend I started seeds; Redbor kale, Mizuna mustard grrens,  Bright Lights chard and  Sessantina broccoli raab.

Kathy is a gardener in Belmont, MA not too far from where we live in Westwood.  She is a skilled grower and a talented photographer, and I read her blog Skippy’s Vegetable Garden on a regular basis.  Her beautiful garden photography always lifts my spirits and her Garden Gnome is far more reliable harbinger of spring than Punxsutawney Phil.

 

Recently Kathy mentioned that she has been toying with the idea of having chickens, but she has some hesitations, so this post is for her and hopefully anyone else intrigued by the idea of a small flock of chickens in your urban or suburban backyard…  (more…)

The legendary Angie (a.k.a. “Miss Prissy” on the Backyard Chicken Forum) has asked me to blog about our chickens…I feel a little aprehensive about this because we have had our girls for only four months and I know way more about sewing than I do about chickens.  Miz P, on the other hand, lives on a working farm with about 100 chickens (and much more livestock) and she is about as self-sufficient as a family can possibly be.  This is a woman who could have crossed the Great Plains in a Conestoga wagon with a gaggle of children, a husband, extended family and livestock in tow with one hand tied behind her back.

So I’ll do the best I can with an update on our three girls.  My daughter Emma wishes they were still wee chicks, but they have grown up into lovely ladies nonetheless. 

Waddle is a Buff Orpington; she’s at the top of the pecking order.  She’s the chicken with the MBA; John calls her the “thought leader” – she is always the first to check out something new and she has always been the calmest, friendliest and the most tame.  She is very curious, self confident and always the first out of the coop in the morning.

K.J. is the Australorp, she’s #2 and is constantly challenging Waddle’s position as Top Hen.  K.J. is also the largest and heaviest; she is the first one to sound the alarm when they free range; her wariness reminds of the wild turkeys that come through our yard.  She seems to be the one who is maturing first, so we shall see if she lays first. 

Hippie Chick is an Easter Egger.  She has always been a loner who doesn’t like to be touched, but she does like company.  The only time she’ll make an exception is when I visit them right as they are falling asleep.  Then she will let me stroke her chest while she roosts.  She has muffs, a beard and lush hawk-like feathering on her head and neck and greenish-black tail feathers.

Waddle, K.J. and Hippie Chick

Waddle, K.J. and Hippie Chick

One thing I love about chickens is their social hierarchy, which is complex and fascinating to observe.  So far we’ve had no real problems; they get along pretty well save for the occasional mano-a-mano “You talkin’ to ME?” showdowns when they free range.  The everyday bird comedy is endlessly hilarious.  They will be four months old November 16 – and the egg countdown has begun.

 

We had a lot of rain this summer, so it took a while to get the final painting done on the coop.  The stones around the bottom are just an extra critter deterent in addtion to the 12 inches ofhardware cloth that extends into the run.  Emmi painted a rock that we use as a doorstop when  we open up the coop to let them free range (always supervised, we have hawks.)  They love to free rnage because they can scratch to theri hearts content.  We also picked out first watermleon this week – and it came in at 30 lbs! Somehow the five of us managed to eat it all within two days. The chicks were 8 weeks old as of yesterday, and the three of them are losing their cheepy chick voices and acquiring their hen voices.

Here is a Word doc with details of our rain barrel set-up.  Just right click on the link below and chose “Save Target as..” and it will download.  Mac users are on your own!

rain-water-collection-system

Emma & Waddle

A Roma on the left, and a Marvel Striped on the right.  The Roma came form Lowes to replace a Cherokee Purple that was mysterioslu brokne off at ground elvel, and I think it went into the ground June 1.  Roma’s are 76 days so it’s way ahead. Marvel Striped (started from seed April12) was planted May 17; it’s 90 days and also ahead of schedule. I suspect this may be due to the Trex raised beds being so warm.  This Marvel Striped was at the very bottom of the vine, most of its still-to-ripen-relatives are MUCH larger.