Sunday, April 06, 2014


When a friend asked -- how's the chicken thing going? -- I found myself giving this honest answer: I love it except when they are digging up my flower beds and then I hate it.

Because I am retired, I don't mind the early trek to the chicken coop. Today I went out before dawn when the sky was a heavenly pink and purple...


I let them out and Lexie pecked once and I thought -- training her to stop is going to take some time. But I did not mind. (Here she is, in a calmer moment, puffing out her morning feathers and making herself look three times her normal size.)


And here is the sunrise, finally.


And when I cleaned their coop, I couldn't help but think -- my oh my, they generate a lot of poop. In two weeks, I've already emptied a bucket into the compost pile. That means in the course of the year, I'll have dumped out close to 25 buckets of droppings (to be sure, mixed in with some wood shavings). But I do not really mind that either. Cats, dogs, babies -- they all generate poop and yet you get close to them and tending to the clean up is like breathing -- something you just do.

After the morning cleaning, I head back to bed and sleep for a good hour more. Retirement has made this possible. Suddenly I can sleep outside the night hours. Remarkable.

And so breakfast is rather late.


Ed had opened the gate for the chickens and because it is such a warm spring day, we let them spend nearly the whole day in this way, going from one favorite spot to the next as the temperatures climbs and the sun pokes out to give us a hazy blue April sky.

But the reality is this: they do like the loosely tilled flower beds. The farmette is large, but some spots are more tempting for them than others and I have to say that they do not avoid my flowers.

And that's unsettling.

I am hoping that once the flowers mature, the hens will find them less inviting. But that's a good number of months away. In the meantime, the chicks are as annoying as the chipmunks, who also take it upon themselves to disturb my sense of order in the perennial beds. Darn animals!

On the up side, I do think that my worries about how Isis will take to the chickens (and vice versa) seem to have been overblown. The chickens love to hang out by the front door of the farmhouse (especially when I am inside) and of course, this is the path that Isis takes, coming and going. Here he is leaving...


...and here he is coming back. And yes, the chickens are following him, hoping perhaps that he'll show them the way inside.


And as Ed says -- the hens are indeed earning their keep. Here's their daily gift of eggs: the darker one is Lexie's, the biggest one is Butter's.


And one final photo of the flock. It's when you see them like this, all packed together, out in the field that you think -- what a lovely thing it is to give these guys a home here, at the farmette.


In other news -- Ed is diligently taking the tomatoes out for a bit of sunshine every day now.


And here's a season's first for me -- we take our bikes out to run a few errands today.


I want to say it was thrilling to be out riding again, but because I was out with Ed, the reality is that it was a panting set of minutes. He does ride faster and keeping up with him is not easy.

On the way back, I paused to take a photo of the farmers to the east of us (that's our silo in the background). They're out in great numbers on the weekend, clearing and tilling.


Much as I like watching them move through the steps of growing foods and flowers for our markets, I can't help but feel sad that Farmer Lee is not among them. Her fields, to the south of us are being converted back to corn and soy. In the end, we don't know where she is farming this year. I can hope that it's on great soil, among people who will appreciate the beauty she brings to the landscape.

The night is warm, the windows are cracked open.  For those of us who live up north, it can't get much better than that.