Busy Season Begins

It’s a difficult choice between spring and summer but if I had to choose, I think I’d say this time of the year is the busiest season here on the farm.

We have so much going on right now: baby birds of all sorts, fattening meat birds, plant starts inside and out, weeds everywhere, mulch to be laid, beds to be prepped, the arrival of bees, and the perpetual battle with predators ramping back up.

I make my to do lists so I don’t forget anything but then I feel overwhelmed by the long list!

Let’s look at what’s on my list today…

1. Food and water to the Cornish cross meat birds in the far coop. They eat so much that their supplies have to be replenished twice a day, when we let them out to free range and when we close them up at night. First chicken harvest next week. They grow so fast!

2. Open up my new hive and my neighbor’s across the street. We got the bees last week and they’re all settled in now. I need to look to make sure the queens made the journey ok and that they continue to lay eggs in a nice pattern.

I got to help catch a swarm at work this week and am beginning to feel more confident in my beekeeping skills. There is so much to learn though! If I get any photos today I’ll post about that.

3. I got a monstrously large pile of wood chips from a local tree trimmer. I’ve been working on mulching the whole area under my little orchard and bee yard. A local appliance store lets us raid their cardboard dumpster and I’ve got a truckload to unload and spread today. Hopefully that’ll finish my orchard area.

I can use the scoop on the tractor to bring mulch around the edges and then I spread it over the cardboard with a rake. It’s a lot of work now but will save us a lot of time in mowing and trimming between trees in the long run. And cardboard/wood chips increases the fungal activity in the soil, which is good for the health of the roots of the trees.

4. I got one more batch of baby egg layers from Mt. Healthy Hatchery last week to round out our egg colors. I need to check on them in the brooder a couple times today. I might put them outside for a little while today when it warms up.

We also have 18 ducklings that’ll need food and water throughout the day. They are definitely going outside when it warms up. They make a huge mess of their water in the brooder so the workshop smells not so great right now. Can’t wait until they are big enough to live outside!

I sold the last of the goslings to Greenacres last week. Here you can see them by my desk in the morning, waiting for the head livestock guy to pick them up. You never know what you’ll find by an agriculture educator’s desk!

5. The age-old battle with predation continues here on the farm. I witnessed a team of hawks take out one of our teenage chickens on the hillside going down to the pond. Couldn’t get there fast enough to stop it unfortunately but I did see where the hawks perched to swoop down so I bought these flags off Amazon to hang over that hill.

The idea is that the large birds are freaked out by the swaying of the flags in the wind and don’t want to fly though them. So far it seems to be working in that area so I may need to hang more up in other spots. It makes out chicken yard look like a used car lot or a hobbit birthday party depending on your reference points.

There’s another spot where the waterway comes under our fence that I found remains of a couple chickens. I’m guessing that’s something four-legged, probably a fox. I set up our trail cam but haven’t gotten any pictures yet. I may set up the trap today too.

6. Last weekend I started these “lasagna beds” next to the house. Oliver tried to plant corn in this spot last year but the weed pressure was terrible and the soil quality not great. This year I’m preparing beds with layers of newspaper, animal bedding, straw and compost. Today I want to get cardboard and wood chips in the pathways. If there’s time, I may plant some things in the beds too. Last weekend I put in carrots and a first round of corn.

Well I guess it’s time to finish my coffee and get to it. Before I start this list, I’ll do my usual checks on the old girls. Hope all of you will have a productive day and get outside to enjoy the sunshine!

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