Sunday, March 29, 2009

Goodbye Mr. B.

Bombadil, our dapper if slightly boneheaded polled ram, has gone on to a new home at Stone Ridge Sheep Farm in New York State. There he will preside as the one and only ram around. Should make the big guy very happy-- especially after this four ram winter. (Yes, I know our is waaaayyyy to many rams. It just sort of happened that way. Circumstances converged.)

At times, I think I am too much of a softie to be a shepherd. It was harder than expected to say goodbye to Mr. B.

But, we still have two rams too many around here, and so we may be saying a few more goodbyes before spring is over.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Chicks

When I first started teaching high school, my students somehow managed to stick me with the unfortunate nickname "Happy Chick". I WAS happy; that was a wonderful, challenging year. But I had a lot to learn, and perhaps I was smiling because much of the time, smiling was about all I could think of to do.

Anyway, the old nickname came to mind when I noticed these truly happy chicks out in the yard. Spring has definitely visited New England, and there is no-- hear me, weather gods!-- no more miserable winter weather afoot.

Our chickens are feeling it. For the first time in months they have grass under their cold little toes (Okay, it's dead dried up yucky grass, but it IS grass!) and leaf litter to scratch through, which is basically chicken nirvana. On Maggie's Farm, the whole poultry kingdom has undergone a radical shift towards the sublime. You can feel the giddy vibes in the air. Really.

Here's Otto Longlegs out for a solitary stroll

Being irrationally exuberant, the hens have been gifting us with crazy amounts of eggs. We collected 25 on Tuesday, 12 on Wednesday and 18 on Thursday. Guess they're just letting us know that chickens-- happy chickens-- must have a home on the freerange.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicken Rescue!

Spring happened here on Maggie's Farm. It happened for one day, a georgeous, robin's egg blue day so drippy and melty and overall wet that our road turned into a marsh of sorts and spring runoff poured down the hill like no tomorrow.

The next day, it snowed again. Hard. Ah, New England.

In other news, the cute little hatchlings of late summer have grown into fine young chickens. Unfortunately, four of them turned out to be roosters. This, in addition to Stellar, our gi-normous head honcho and "Otto Longlegs" a buff laced cornish.

We weren't up for eating these boys, and the hens were not up for six roosters in the coop. On snowy days, when they had to stay in, the hens kept up high, making mad dashes through "rooster territory" for food and water. On the nice days, when we left the coop open for free ranging, snow pecking and other chickenly pursuits, the older, wise group of hens would make a break for it. En masse, these weary old veterans, streamed out of the coop, crunched through the snow (No mean feat as chickens do NOT like snow...) and re-homed themselves under our porch.

We thought this was a reasonable protest on their part. The roosters WERE obnoxious, neither gentlemanly or even roosterly in their behavior.

We Craigslisted them. Which turned out quite well. The coop is quieter, with only the subdued (so far) Otto Longlegs, the georgeous Little Jaguar, three guinea fowl, and twenty something hens. Peaceful, right?

Um, no.... Our glut of roosters has caused an unforseen consequence, our oldest, wisest and most beloved hens have taken a liking to the porch. I can't even count the nights I've dug them out from the shrubbery, tucked them under an arm and "airlifted" them back to the safety of the coop. You don't account for how much you care about all these animals. It's one of those hidden givens of farming.
Here is Java on her way back home with Joe.