Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh, Brrrrr!

Well, that cold front definitely came through. Night before last, it snowed a bit and temps went down to 27º. The fruit trees were looking pretty ragged. Then, last night's low was 22º so that's probably enough to do in most everything currently in bloom. I'm afraid to go look. The cold was too much for Spots, our old Barred Rock hen, too - we found her dead in one of the nest boxes this morning. We don't butcher our hens, they're our pets as well as egg factories. We keep them around as "boarders" as long as they live. I'm not sure, but think Spots was about 12 years old. She was slowing down quite a bit, but would still come up to eat out of my hand, and even laid an egg a couple of weeks ago.

So that leaves us with 9 hens and a rooster (plus 3 guineas - 2 hens and a cock) in the chicken house. Of the ten chickens, six are Missy's offspring - including Ivan, our rooster. Baldy is still wanting to set, so I'm still thinking of trying to get her to foster some feed-store chicks. I want to get her moved from a nest box to the brooding pen I've made out of the dog run. I'm thinking about moving her in the dark of night, after this full moon wanes, so she won't try to go back to the coop. Plus, the weather is supposed to warm up again in a few more days, so if she does reject the chicks they'll have a better chance of surviving until I can get them inside and under a light for warmth. I'm new to fostering out chicks - we've raised chicks inside until feathered out, and just kept the ones that Missy brought in. Missy's been acting squawky and sneaky, but is back in the coop every night - I think she's getting too old to lay any more. She might foster a brood, but I'm also afraid she'd know they weren't hers and kill them.

There is good news around here too. I saw four bees out on the grape hyacinths, so at least I know there's still a surviving hive around here somewhere nearby. And the asparagus is starting to come up. The first sprouts are all flopped over from the freezing weather, but at least I know the roots are still ok. I repaired the fence around that plot, added some compost, and fixed up a new section of soaker hose. Now that the weather is supposed to warm up again, I hope to be eating fresh asparagus soon. I also added compost to the strawberry patch. The first blooms there are black in the center, so they froze too. But that means I'll get a better harvest later of lots of medium-sized berries instead of the one big one with lots of little ones (barring many more 20º nights, that is).

No comments: