Ahh, early spring on the farm! The cherry trees are full of blossoms, the grass is bright green and growing quickly, the garden is planted, and the chickens are brooding eggs for us. It’s a great time to be working outside.
The rabbits have been breeding for a while. Unfortunately, our rabbits are not very good mothers. Two of them abandoned their litters right after birth and would not take care of them. The other two rabbits that had litters were good mothers. One had a small litter of 3 bunnies that have done well. They are 3 weeks old now and busily hopping around their pen exploring. The second mother was doing fantastic. She had a litter of 8 bunnies and they all survived and were growing rapidly throughout the first week of their lives. Then we had a big storm. We got a couple inches of rain the night before last and all through yesterday. We did not know that the roof of that rabbit’s cage would not hold up against the storm. It started dripping water right through the back half of the roof where the rabbit had made her nest. All the poor bunnies got soaked and too cold. None of them made it. Those discoveries are always hard, and the blow is especially severe when the bunnies came from our two best rabbits and were doing so well. We even had them sold! Setbacks, setbacks…
On a brighter note, all the Black Australorp chicks we hatched out are doing great! The first two (the only two that hatched successfully from our frozen January egg clutch) got to go out onto pasture today in their very own chicken tractor. They are enjoying exploring the outside world, catching their first bugs, and tasting their first grass. They’ve got all their feathers now, so they should be fine unless we get a really cold snap come in. If that happens they can go back into the brooder for the night. The second clutch is so vibrant! We had 30 successfully hatch, and all 30 of them are doing wonderfully! The chicks we got from the hatchery last year had a few problems with weak chicks and chicks who developed pasty deposits around their anuses. These home-hatched chicks have had NONE of those problems whatsoever. It’s really remarkable. Hopefully the last batch of chicks we just got in will be the last chickens we have to order and we’ll be able to hatch them all out on-farm from now on.
Speaking of which, we just picked up our (hopefully) last ever chicken and turkey order from the post office this morning. 52 Naked Neck chickens (we’re calling them Kentucky Redneck Chickens) and 48 Narragansett and Bourbon Red turkey poults have joined the Black Australorp chicks and Magpie ducklings in the broodhouse. We had 2 of the turkey poults DOA, but so far everyone else seems healthy so hopefully they’ll prosper in their new locale. The video below shows the new chicks, the old chicks, and some footage of the greenhouse and garden.
Lindsey’s family came in last week and they helped us transplant the seedlings we started in the greenhouse to the garden so now our garden is full of our cool-weather crops: broccoli, sweet peas, Amish snap peas, radishes, 3 kinds of carrots, turnips, 5 kinds of lettuce, spinach, chard, onions, mustard greens, and kale. The little seedlings have adjusted well to the outdoors with a minimum of hardening off. We’ve been picking salad greens for a while and are now waiting on our first peas and radishes to be ready. Yesterday we got to eat the season’s first asparagus. So good! I don’t really like asparagus from the grocery store too much, but the fresh stuff is to die for! The strawberry patch that we’ve worked so hard to revamp by removing the weeds and old plants, mulching, and fertilizing with rabbit manure has really taken off. Lots of new leaves and plants loaded with blooms. We are looking forward to a good crop of strawberries in another few weeks if we can fight off the birds and pick our fair share of them.
In other news, the Eggmobile we’ve been building for the chickens should be finished this weekend so check for a how-to post on that in the near future.
We also revamped the Good Life Ranch website to make it more informative and easier to navigate. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Enjoy the update! I’ve got to get back to work outside!