Friday, September 6, 2013

Farm Update: An End to the Lazy Summer Days

Yes, the blog is far overdue for a farm update. Summer really got away from me this year. Seems like many of the seasonal fruits were just a blur.  I still haven't gotten school and a new baby all figured out yet. Our Barred Rock rooster, Rocky, had a few girls in the front yard and I took a moment to snap a few pictures.

The days have been warm, but comfortable. The hens are in full egg production, which is perfect for my baking desires. The days are long and the sunlight helps to trigger their desire to lay. This weekend I hope to knock out a loaf of apple challah bread and cake.

I am acutely aware that Summer is coming to an end and Fall is just around the corner. Though I am looking forward to the smells and flavors of the next season, I don't look forward to fewer eggs and the end of backyard gardening. Summer is just too good to rush.

It is a great time, though, to take stock of the past successes and failures and start planning for next Spring. I have already promised my children that we will get a small incubator. I think they would love to watch the eggs hatch. They have also put in their orders for next year's garden. This year the baby took up most of my time and our garden was pretty bare. I really missed the grape and cherry tomato plants, fresh cucumbers and Japanese eggplant we grew the previous year. Those are on the top of my priority list.

I also have plans to work on landscaping the front yard. Now, I just need to add a few more hours to my day to get it all done. The clover has really taken over, though blooming it is kind of pretty.

I was fortunate this year that despite predators in the neighborhood I didn't lose any hens. Now that Fall is coming, food sources for our local predators will become scarce and I will have to be more vigilant.

How do you keep your backyard flock safe?

Letting my chickens roam free around the yard and neighboring orchard is an important part of their free-range diet. My husband and I have discussed beefing up the fencing around the chicken yard, but I know it will come at a cost. I may even need to think about planting our chicken yard to keep up with my voracious little foragers.

Our current rooster has been a lucky find. He is friendly and hasn't shown any signs of aggression towards myself, the kids or the dog, his yard mate. I really hope he works out and appreciate not having to be terrified when I go to put the chickens in for the night.

My only gripe is that he likes to sit under my kitchen window to crow during the day. It is amazing how loud one bird can be.

Now my only issue is that having a younger rooster has caused many of my hens to loose a lot of back feathers. I am almost ready to try out the chicken saddles so the hens can regrow their feathers and not incur any further damage. I hate seeing them bare backed and I know they would appreciate the additional warmth this Winter. The birds will be molting soon though and hopefully that will help. Featherless chickens really aren't pretty. I don't think featherless chickens will ever become a fad.

How are you enjoying the final days of Summer? Are you ready to move onto Fall already?
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