Today was transplant day in the greenhouse, so the chickens were officially OUT. They took it pretty well. I expected sad puppy at the door behaviour, but they have spent enough time in transition that they were pretty content outdoors.
However, the forecasted 1mm of rain was a bit more than that, and earlier, so just like last year, transplant/eviction day was a big rain day (complete with thunder).
So I spent the morning running around hastily throwing up rain and wind shelters for these birds that haven’t seen the elements in months to hide under. The big birds are all just fine in rain, but Silkies don’t fare so well when they get wet, the little hair chickens. After this hasty contriving I got the three fowl weather hen tents out of mothball and repaired them and put them back in action too. They are quite effective. Just as attractive. Nailed that tent city esthetic. I even put the converted chickery in the mix, and they loved investigating that (finally!we get to see inside!), but didn’t shelter in it. The stock tank hay bale cave was a hit.
The rain came and went, and as it let up, the hens would disperse into the grass and surroundings, and then the rain would start drumming down again and all at once, you’d see them on the run, (even the guineas) legging it back to get under some kind of roof, where they’d crowd together, with no necks, quietly waiting.
After that, I brought my camera into the greenhouse for transplanting, (57 tomatoes – cue Heinz jokes) and completely failed to take any pictures at all! Next round. There’s more to plant.
There’s that green. The world is overwatered right now and the grass is growing with all its might. Expect to see it in the eggs soon – the chickens are free range again (fair weather only).
HW comes home and says ” Where’d all these starts come from!?” “You grew these?” Yep, they’re the same ones as were there yesterday, and the day before… “They’re so big!” Yes, they are. And so green. Ready to go outside.
I was shuttling tomatoes and set a box down for one second to empty the wheelbarrow….oh…oh! Here they come, creeping. Is the hand faster than the beak? No, she got a leaftip!
Only two guinea chicks running around today. Life is brutal for latecomers.
They’re so funny! Little bitty chicks, the size of ping pong balls, scuttling around on their orange legs right in the middle of the big flock, like they belong there. They’re hard to even find in my pictures.
It’s a big rain day. The rain is thundering down; I caught 300 gallons of water in an hour off two roofs. Everything is puddled and the hens are mostly huddling under their new tents.
Mama Silkie I completed hatching out her eggs for a grand total of seven little Silkie chicks, three white and four brown. They are at liberty in the greenhouse but haven’t gone more than a couple feet from the box.
A restorative friend visit and blueberry pick- 10# of fat blueberries that the piglets and chickens will be ecstatic to have a little taste of.
The promise of rain! The smell is light relief in the air.
Then the guineas decided to level up.
While I was taking pictures of these clowns, a BAT! came flapping around. 100% bat! It was flying right over my head to hoover up the bugs that I was attracting and I saw the whole bat silhouette against the sky (much clearer than my camera saw it). It seems like the bats might be on their way back from the brink!
This is from a month ago, May 1, but I was so demoralized by how the day ended that I didn’t finish posting. Until now.
The chickens no longer live in the greenhouse, and it’s time for the green things to go in. I got in there with the broadfork, breaking up the rows. Tomatoes first, against the north wall.
After having all the birds wintering in the “chicken dome”, the soil looks, well, awful. It looks compacted and desiccated. It would have fooled me. But that´s not the case.
The top quarter inch or so is dry, and compacted. When I crack it with the broadfork, that top crust breaks up in scales, and right underneath, the ground is wet as anything, no harder than anywhere outside where chickens haven´t been trampling, and so very full of worms.
Really big worms.
So the hens got very excited. They were following right on my fork, poking their heads down into the holes to fish out worms, and vigorously scratching up the flakes of crust. They were feasting.
Until I decided they were being a little too hard on the worms, who didn´t have a fair chance, and I evicted the chickens.
I hung up a sheet of row cover (if there´s anything else around I use for so many things it wasn´t intended for, I don´t know) the length of the greenhouse to wall off the side I was working on from the side I wasn´t going to get to today. The birds can play on that side.
I let one chicken stay with me – my favorite low chicken.
She can use some extra worms. She was actually perturbed at being alone with the others on the other side of the cloth (they could see each other through it), but she was consoled by the worms.
You see, it was a rainy day. A drizzly morning, forecasted to be a thundering downpour day, so I didn´t have the heart to shut my birds out of the greenhouse to crowd, disgruntled and soggy, under their coops.
As it got wetter, the birds steadily found their way into the vast shelter of the greenhouse.
Inside, I kept working, attended by low chicken, while the rain drummed on the plastic and the birds all trickled in, chirruping and shaking off, pleased to be let back into the greenhouse.
It was really very cool to spend all day with my birds. It´s nice to listen to them chat, complain, brag; I could peek over and see what they´re up to.
They´re always doing something funny: piling up on the hay sacks, trying to have a bath in the roots of the fig tree (naughty!)
Planting the tomatoes out is a big day.
From past experience, I just break up the ground a bit with the broadfork, and plant directly into the ground as is. No turning! After I drew the rows with the broadfork, it was time to plug tomatoes.
Here´s where I found out how well my newspaper pots made out: the answer- excellently.
I tore off the top ring where I had written in Sharpie the kind of tomato, and left that by or around the plant as a marker. Then I tore off the rest of the paper and was left holding a tall root ball.
On the other side of the wall, the chickens had the time of their life shredding all that scrap newspaper that I´d put in a box, and littering it all over the room, the scamps.
Chickens, I´ve observed, spend a lot of time lounging. Most of the afternoon is devoted to sunbathing, dirt bathing, combing their feathers, or napping. On this rain day, they were piled up, murmuring, dropping their heads for a nap or settling right down into sleep pancakes. Others would be active, picking at something – they never all fall asleep at once, but it seems like someone´s always contentedly napping in the afternoon.
At the end of the day, tired, with 70 tomatoes and a few pepper plants planted, I turned in. It was still pouring rain and the chickens were awake, so I just left them in the greenhouse. There´d been no attempts on the wall, or breaches, so I was confident.
I was working on this post, before going out to close them up. There had also been a surge in squawking I was wondering about. …
The wall was breached- one end down, and every single tomato plant was defoliated- not a leaf left! Just a roomful of puny green stems. A couple of hens not gone to bed yet, finishing off the devastation. Next time you can get wet, you ingrates!
Before I went to bed I planted some more tomato seeds, but to say it was a major loss is a major understatement. I had some spare plants, but not an entire spare crop. I was NOT HAPPY. Completely defeated, more like.
As it turned out, despite the significant trauma of being beheaded, the same day as transplanted, almost all the tomatoes survived. Only five were broken off by the hens and therefore terminated.
It was a definite setback, but in the next couple weeks they regrew some awkward leaves, and then left that early bad memory behind. Now you wouldn´t know it had ever happened, although they might be a week or two behind where they might have been.
It seems here in Nova Scotia we’re getting a piece of the rainstorm that has been creeping up the Eastern coast and is currently flooding Ontario and Quebec, and New Brunswick.
After a mostly just drizzly day, the rain is hammering down now, and the wind is gusting. The ground is too saturated to absorb any more water, and all my water collection vessels are full to the brim.
The hens spent the day ducking into the greenhouse when it squalled (I´m so loth to evict them, although it´s about time to plant the second half); the pigs spent much of the day in bed, staying dry.
What really matters to me when the house is hammered by wind and rain is knowing that all my animals are as dry and cozy as we are in the little house. The hens are hunkered in tight, tested coops; the pigs are on a pallet piled with hay, above the rising puddles in their house; the bees were flying today, their hive is lashed down and they have a jar of syrup; and the guineas are high and dry (literally) on their tall coop, still in the greenhouse.
Real rain. 45mm! We’ve had a handful of sprinkles in August, just enough to dampen the crust, but scratch the surface and it’s dry dry dry for inches. Our wells are dry, but our caught rainwater is keeping up with our drinking needs. Nothing can be watered – only the greenhouse gets our grey water, and it is holding out surprisingly well.
It’s been so hot, for so long. Everything is parched, tired, thirsty. Fire risk is high.
Every day I haul water to keep the greenhouse and garden residents alive.
My broccoli is thriving! A surprise. Cabbages utterly failed last year, so I thought cruciferae didn’t agree with my garden.
Also I have 5 asparagi! (yeah yeah, asparguses). Asparagus is the first thing we ever planted, our first month here, but that attempt didn’t take. The asparaguys wanted a more prepared bed. Now they seem happy.
A honeybee working a blackberry cane by the well.
We’re standing on a pile of sticks. What’s it to ya?
Today the world is a lake. The low-lying garden is a swamp, and Mucky picks his way around the paddock on high ground so he doesn’t get his ankles wet. It’s raining with vigour, and I’m delighted to have wakened early and have nothing I have to do for a few hours, so I can huddle back in bed and read and write and listen to the escalating then subsiding waves of rain – through the window, pounding on the roofs of other outbuildings.
The only thing that disappoints me about Roxul is that it insulates sound so well that it blocks out rain. The sound of rain on the roof is one of my favourite things. Now it has to rain hard enough for me to hear it through the windows before I even know it’s raining.
My sunflowers in pellets are reaching dome-ward and my pumpkin starts are bursting larger hourly, but I’ve not yet put the seeds in the garden. Luckily, I’ve had my late-garden guilt assuaged by the fact I’m told by all the old locals, that this area starts late and no one should seed before June.
I’m very glad that this seems true, and if I had planted two weeks ago when I should I should have, it would all be lost. We’ve had an unseasonable stint of rain that is hammering early lettuce into the ground and rotting hapless seeds. It has rained every day at least part of every day for over a week, and it seems like two.
This steady overcast drizzle to downpour has coincided with a bout of illness for me. At first I thought food poisoning, but then as a few days turned into a week I sought Western medicine. The verdict: a mild case of giardia, stay hydrated and your body will beat it. Continue reading Sick and rainy→