Homestead Update: Newborn Kittens and Time to Till!
We have entered that exciting and sweet spot of mid-spring. The flowers are opening up, the days are mild and warm, the nights cool, and the field can finally be filed with all of our crops. We drove our newest farm toy, a used John Deere 850 tractor, over to the farm from storage and took our first passes of the season this past week. Of the many goals I have on my list to accomplish this year, mastering farm machinery was one of them. My dad plowed the earth again, our final time doing so on this section of the plot, and let me finish cultivating. We will do this once a year in the spring, especially when adding any fertilizers or soil conditioners/amendments. I now know how to drive a tractor (not with expert skill or anything) and feel fairly confident in doing so. Goal achieved!
This spring has been so mild and beautiful so far. I had someone tell me, “Oh, the flowers are late again this year,” and I honestly have to disagree! We were still experiencing the fear of snow at this time last year, and the lilacs are about two weeks earlier from my documentation. You never really know what to expect when it comes to weather. While we are three weeks ahead of schedule compared to last year on our planting, it feels behind to me as we follow the current weather patterns. Over the next couple of days, our hope is to beat the rain and lay out the majority of drip irrigation and weed barrier fabric for this section of field. What is currently cultivated will hold almost all of our vegetables and the next two sections will hold flowers, squash, and melons.
In other news, one of our farm cats called Baby had a litter of six kittens about two weeks ago. They are absolutely precious! I discovered the first of the litter, a little ball of fur, crying in the chicken coop one chilly night while going in to lock up the hens. Baby had left them behind as they were wrapped and tied together with their umbilical chords. They had been cleaned by their mama, but she had obviously not been able to figure out how to disconnect them. We struggled with that, too, if I am being honest. There was careful precision to our cutting of the chords, and we moved them all with their mama into the Country Store. We said our goodbyes and hoped for the best, that she would take to them, and all would be well in the morning. When I walked into the store the next morning, two more babies had been born and all were nursing. Hooray!
They are now two weeks old and have their eyes open. Jill keeps telling me that they are promised to our friends and neighbors, but I think otherwise. I can’t help but love our cats!
My dad and Kyle have been busy building the chickens a new coop to house our newest chicks, marking our chicken count up to 60. The old coop, having been maxed out already with 34 hens, is now especially crowded. The ladies (and one rooster - oops!) should be moving in next week, just in time. You can see its current stage in the background of the above photo. I’ll be sharing a post about how we built it once it is finished!
The hens are surprisingly accepting the addition of new hens rather well, with some minor pecking happening, and mostly a lot of competition over who gets to eat first. Everyone has been moved over to grower feed, and the older laying hens are being fed a calcium supplement of oyster shells to make up for the difference. All I know is that they are really enjoying the return of green grass and insects!
This is the busiest time of year for us, and the pressure is officially on! We have a handful of weeks to get all of the plants in the ground. Wish us luck! We will surely need it. What are you planting this year?
Don’t forget that there is still time to sign up for our CSA program! Our summer season begins June 11th. We have a handful of spots left. Click here to check it out!