Spring has brought its fervor of growth, of veggies, babies and weeds. Between my bouts of sneezing from pollen (great thing for a gardener to have!), and while the day is very warm outside, I thought I’d update you on how things are going.
A couple of weeks ago I posted about growing potatoes in milk crates. Success so far. The potatoes are growing quickly and coming through the second layer of crates.
I need to backfill with more compost. The potatoes planted in the raised beds have been hilled up as much as the sides will allow. If I am ambitious, I may find some long pieces of cardboard to raise the sides higher, and fill some more.
My nursery bed is mostly ready for transplant out into the larger garden.
I need more berry baskets to help keep them safe, and I need to build support systems right away for tomatoes and other crops I want to keep off the ground.
The chicks are about a month old. They’ve been living in the downstairs bathtub with heat lamps. There are only seven chicks now. We purchased the eleven on a Wednesday afternoon. By the next evening four were ill. All four died during the night, even after my daughter and I kept them warm and full of antibiotic/vitamin water. We don’t know what happened to them, but at least it wasn’t something that took the whole flock. There are always casualties with day-old chicks. They are shipped in the mail straight out of the egg, with a variety of temperatures, food and terrors. When purchasing a large amount of chicks straight from the hatchery, you’ll often receive extra chicks to ‘make up’ for those that perish. Our chicks that died were both light Brahmas, Annabelle Lee and Daisy, Ruby, one of the Rhode Island Reds, and Hermionie, one of the Americaunas. The rest are growing just fine, although I noticed today that Belle, the remaining Americauna had come to some injury within the last week.
Her lower beak is crooked and jutted forward, doubtless an injury caused by flinging herself around in the bathtub with the rest of the girls. She is eating well and seems to be aggressive, and there wasn’t anything I could do to the beak with my fingers through massage or gentle manipulation, so I think she’ll have to see it through. UPDATE: my daughter says that she might have ‘crossbill’, which is a genetic condition that gradually shows up. Not much to do about it; some hens thrive and some can’t.
There is always the chance that some of the remaining seven, especially the straight-run cochins, are males, and they will have to find other homes. I’m really hoping for all hens.
Today I not only took the girls out of the bathtub for the first time on a field trip to the warm and safe back porch, but also introduced them to Viola the House Chicken.
Viola stays in the front yard all day alone, and then comes into the house to her cage at night. She’ll lay in the dog house on the porch where Homer, our lost desert tortoise used to sleep. The chicks are flighty, both in personality and in how they are trying to exercise their wings by sudden wild bursts of flapping that take them off their feet: a surprise to all including themselves. They discovered sunshine, leaf bits, perching,
and that Viola was absolutely afraid of them. Viola did all she could to get back into the house through the screen while complaining horribly.
I realized that she needed to lay and the chicks were blocking her entrance to the doghouse. I let her in and barricaded the pathway and she settled in whirring grumpily to herself.
Just now I heard her complaining at the top of her lungs to find that the chicks had visited her, and one bold one in particular, aptly named Bodacea, was standing next to her either inquisitively or in horror. I seperated them and they all calmed down.
The nights are still cool and I still have a rat problem in the Fowl Fortress (I’ve been installing a couple of my cats in there overnight to help discourage the looting) so I’m waiting until maybe next week to introduce the girls to the rest of the flock. I’ll oust the Saki the male quail and let the girls take over his house. Its all so complicated!