Spring: About darned time!

After the most lingering winter in recent history, spring seems to have suddenly arrived in New England. Snow one day, spring the next, like a magician’s trick. It’s a good thing, too…one more snowfall and the population of our small town may have gone stark raving mad!

I’m a bit of a slow-goer when it comes to projects. The word “dabbler” is quite apt in my case, I move in fits and starts. But the spring projects are starting. The farm insurance was put into place last fall with the intent of boosting our chicken population and reestablishing honey bees on the farm.

Last fall, I acquired three rare heritage Barnvelders–two hens and a roo. My friend Beth hatched some out for herself and some for me, with the intent of helping preserve the breed. This is a friendly, medium-sized breed, brown with a little green sheen in color, that lays very dark brown eggs. The roos are supposed to get along with other roos, but the one here (as of yet un-named) would stupidly like to take on Mr. Big the enormous Orpington. Silly boy.

Yesterday, we acquired four new Rhode Island Red hens from a gal who was moving and needed to re-home her hand-raised chickens. It is pretty amazing how tame these hens are–I’m able to simply reach down and pick them up. Guess my lot has gone a bit wild! The new hens joined Mr. Big’s mixed flock last night in the hen house, and today the lot of them went outside to the chicken yard: 9 hens and Mr. Big. It was such a pleasure seeing the RIRs immediately take to the new space, scratching in the leaves and picking at grass. They also enjoyed what I suspect was their first dirt bath, often diving in underneath Mr. Big who scratches out the best bathing areas.

On the bee front, an order for two new hives was placed last week. Two old hives are standing ready to receive their new occupants, former mouse, wax moth and paper wasps being evicted. As much as I hate mice in the hives, seeing those little eyes staring up at me from the nests does make me pause….for about 5 seconds. They they’re OUT. Hoping the weather remains nice so the boxes can be repainted.

Dad has been down a couple of times in the last week, also, tackling his own projects. We attended a lecture on helping native bees a few months ago, and frankly it has both of us fired up. He mowed the bluebird hill and sowed white clover seed. The days of a mono-culture lawn are long over. Actually, there are several patches of wild flowers in our lawns, providing early blooms for native and honey bees alike. The early crocuses are up near the honey bee hives, which someone else’s bees are thoroughly enjoying. Soon, the little purple flowers in the side lawn will be up–tiny hyacinths? I’ll have to identify them one of these days.

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