May Medley

May Day came with rain and muck, but led to a day of sun and luck. The chicks are moving along on their edge duty by the house. You can see the faded circles where the chick habitat was moved along the west side of the trailer. These little birds work wonders weeding  footpaths and the edges of buildings where it is harder for me to get the scythe moving. In another week, these chicks will be large enough to move into a mesh fenced pasture. So far, the number of hens in the flock is 9. The combs can be deceiving though, so I’ll wait to separate till gender is clearer.

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chick grazing along house

The young rooters are pulled for the flock for a number of reasons, first and foremost, they are a great expense to feed on organic layer mix. Second, they get pecked by the adult rooters. Third, I’m working on genetics and have my Ayem Cemani roosters as the breeding guys on the farm. Having too many roosters around the hens stresses out everyone. Even in the laying flock right now, one rooster is beaten up on by the other. The beta male occasionally gets a chance to breed, but he spends more time running away from an aggressive foe than wooing the ladies.

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garlic and peaches on the terrace

The terrace beds are developing nicely. Our Frost Peach blossomed out beautifully and now puts on leafy mass to grow juicy fruit for later this summer. I spent some time last month thinning out herbs below the peach, including oregano, which will grow prolifically as a wonderful ground cover, but should be thinned out to allow other herbs  space to grow too. I’ve planted chives to help keep out some pests who are repelled by onions. Chives also grow prolifically and need to be thinned out like the oregano, although I might eventually let the two battle it out. The French Parsley (Chervil) came back this year, and I’ve already been trimming it for the dehydrator. The garlic crop matures nicely and will soon be shooting up scapes which would blossom into flowers if left uncut. I might let some flower out for the bees. I’ve already seeded in this bed with more veggies to share the space. We’ll see if things get too crowded this year. I can always thin.

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Brownie grazes while Branwen trims a Red Cedar tree

Goats are a never ending adventure. The new Buck Brock, is settled in, though I must day he browses considerably less than the Boers; but that’s the price for downsizing. I do think he would stay in the electric mesh net fence. As noted in the picture above, goats will eat trees. That’s why all my fruit trees are above goat height. Earlier this spring, Brownie found her way into a young apple tree enclosure and took the sad little sapling out with only a few chews. Sad times for any young fruit tree found by the goats. Sad times…

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Brawn and Brock feast on the rich grass

It’s great to see systems folded in together, from goats, chickens, and fruit trees, to dandelions, bees, and a young hedge. All these plants and animals work with each other to enhance the landscape, and with little direction from me. Nature is such a hard worker, doing most of the important stuff in her own good time, season by season, as we humans race to keep up. I’ve already been out scything grass back from the road, and trying to keep up with replanting my starts as the warmer days encourage an explosion of growth all around. Flowers are popping up everywhere, and just in time for out Italian Honey Bees! I got into the hive yesterday to make sure the queen was out of her box and mixing with the rest of the swarm. When I did this, I stuck in a paddy of pollen boost for the hive, as it’s been rather cool and rainy for these bees from California. Today they are dancing in the sun and rushing to get at the wild pollen all around.

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Salmon Berry flowers tempt bees from the hive

When I opened the hive, I got a chance to quickly put eyes on the comb being constructed by the hard worker ladies. It’s a beautiful white wax, hexagonal and perfect. How amazing to see such mathematical perfection! I’m constantly inspired by the structure of the natural world. There are so many creative solutions to every need. The feeling that all is right in the world echos in the splendor of spring growth on Leafhopper Farm.

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