Wednesday, April 16, 2014


You can assume that between April 15 and June 15, I'll be spending every good weather hour outdoors. This is the time when most of farmette work needs to surge forward. After that, it's just a question of maintenance.

If every day in these two months was to be fantastic and if Ed continues to be as helpful as he has always been, I may get much of it done this year. But, weather patterns are never reliable in spring and, too, indoor tasks never quite go away and so I'm sure to falter somewhat. And that's okay. My outdoor work is good work. It must never fall into the category of indifferent, unpleasant, or rushed. Outdoor work is as much for the soul as it is for physical endurance and visual pleasure.

When the day starts off both cloudy and windy, I hesitate. Still, the promised climb to the low 50s is a good sign. Even the chickens are sprightly this morning. They're out of the pen, the minute I open the coop and gate.


Over breakfast (in the sun room, because the clouds are starting to part)...


...we talk about which outdoor work has the highest priority. The vegetable beds are more or less ready. Not so the strawberry beds. We prepared three fours of them last fall. We need to finish the job now.

It's back breaking work. Probably one of the harder jobs that we have before us this season. We need to dig up a fabric that's buried under a foot of soil and weeds. And pull out small shrubs and unwanted box elder trees that took off in all the wrong places. And finally, layer it all with a foot of wood chips.

And here's the (funny, delightful or disconcerting -- you decide) part: the chickens follow us to the sheep shed, where we're starting work on the beds and they are thrilled with our digging! Oh, do they feast on worms today!


It is, unfortunately, difficult to work with chickens under foot and under shovel, but still, it is so satisfying to see them this happy. Lexie's excitement translates to hyper pecking, even as she tries to restrain herself. The others are calmer, but no less thrilled to have fresh dirt to claw through.
That's your egg -- Ed points to one of the hens who is at the moment swallowing a slimy worm. From that very worm, you'll have scrambled eggs for .
He can be so.. graphic.


Just as the box of strawberries arrives in the mail, we shovel in the last layer of wood chips. Tomorrow, if we're inspired, we may return to finishing the raspberries.

Again the hawk soars overhead and again Oreo lets out the alarm and they huddle under an old grape vine until the hawk gives up and moves elsewhere. This is the time to be grateful for the thicket of trees and shrubs at the farmette. They shield the chickens from overhead predators.

At the end of the day, I pour water into a dish and they huddle in the courtyard, thirsty and eager to drink. Sometimes, they seem like they are the most congenial birds on the planet. This surely is one of those moments.


Even Isis stares at them with less suspicion.


Day is done. Muscles ache. Chickens happy. Foster chick keepers happy as well.