Sunday, May 22, 2011

Late May Spring

What a fine week of typical Humboldt weather: fog, sun, fog again, bitterly cold north wind, gently cool west wind, sun again. So fine and summery that the garden is the first place I head once I kick off my work shoes. So fine and summery that I thought, Maybe it's time to try fun-running again.

So I was up and out of the house just after 8am to drive down to Loleta for the Jim Davy 2-mile fun walk/10K fun run. I sent in my registration for the 10K, then thought it might be more prudent to baby my plantar fasciiitis and do the 2-mile walk—I haven't done any running or even a decent stroll since the beginning of February—but the morning was so fine I thought, I'll do the 10K and just walk it really fast.

Small crowd, very pretty course: three miles up to Table Bluff, a bit of flat at the turnaround and water break station, then three miles back down into town. I think it was more than some of the fun-runners were expecting. I started almost four minutes late by grabbing an Earl Grey tea and a morning bun from the Loleta Bakery but still managed to pass seven stumbling runners as I chugged up the hill. But seriously, the scenery and views down to King Salmon and the beach along the mouth of the Eel River were killer, and worth the trip to the top of the bluff.

And you know, it didn't really matter whether I went for the 10K or the short course, because after about two miles my feet were pretty sore. And, the organizers had a great prize table. (I got a bottle of green tea cooking oil—score!) And, I got to my dressage lesson only a little late. (And it was a fantastic, eye-opening lesson—thanks, Paula!)

But after three hours of working it, I needed both lunch and a nap, so I didn't get into the yard as early as I had hoped, nor did I do anything I'd planned to do out there today...but I did take some pictures.

As we clear off the blackberries, periwinkle, ivy and assorted other undesired plants, we have a tough time keeping the cleared areas free of other weeds (grasses, thistles, etc). It often seems like a never-ending battle.

Only this year we got smart and are putting the chickens to work. My husband's been constructing a "chicken Habitrail" to give the chickens access to the weedy areas between the raised beds and the side fence, then along the back fence. They are so happy to have the fresh forage, the bugs, and the opportunity to scratch around and exercise their little minds. And in return they keep their Habitrail areas weed-free.

I know it's hard to see, but that's the work-in-progress we call the Chicken Habitrail. Or Chicken Hooverville. Both the hens and the mass of pullets we call the Cheeples love to shoot up through the narrow run along the fence to the bigger Habitrail area in the back corner. It's especially noisy and fun when both groups do it at the same time.

Oh, what's in the raised beds? A lot of potatoes, garlic, shallots, herbs, lettuces, strawberries, raspberries (probably not enough of those), a mystery bed of leftover seeds and odds-and-ends, and six tomato plants I put in despite the evidence of years past, in my eternal optimism. (Good thing I can shrug off disappointment!)

The husband himself, staking out the next area for Habitrail expansion. The expanded area for them to be in takes some of the pressure off in finding the surplus homes. So far I've only sold one pullet, one of the Leghorns ($20 and a shovel!). I also finally got fed up of not finding leg bands at any of our local feed stores (Seriously, are they kidding? with all the poultry in Humboldt County, no one sells leg bands?) and ordered some off the Internet. Now I'm assigning names and numbers to the keepers.

So, yay for those hard-working poultry gals: fresh eggs every day and landscaping, too.

Oh, and yay for hard-working husbands, too! The Mighty Small Farm looks great, G-man.


Bill said...

I am very jealous of your cheeples! I've always wanted a few. I am curious though why someone would pay $20 + a shovel for one chicken? Can't you buy chicks for a fraction of that? And if you want it for meat, can't you buy a fully plucked one for around $5 at the grocery store? Also, I'm impressed with the size of those eggs...they're HUGE!

Bones said...

I used to wonder the same thing. So here's why I charge $30 a pullet.

According to Sand Hill Preservation Center, some breeds of chicken lay great their first year, then the number of eggs they lay plummets. So by buying a young bird you get maximum eggs for your I charge maximum dollars for your (future) eggs.

We got the Cheeples as early as we could, February 11. It's way too cold up here in February for the babies, so they got a heat lamp -- and we in Humboldt all know how expensive it is to run a high-watt bulb 24/7. You should have seen my electric bill. For the pullets I'm keeping that cost will be spread over their laying lifetime, but if you're buying my pullets, you'll pay it up front.

The Cheeples grew so fast -- they're bred to -- and they ate and ate and ate like nobody's business. For 18 chicks I probably fed about 100 pounds of chick food. Again, for the pullets I keep that cost is spread out.

So that is why I charge $30 for a pullet. You can find 1+, 2-year-old, and older hens on Craigslist, but you won't get nearly the number of eggs...though that is how I got Marilyn and Pearl, who are around 4 yrs old and still laying well.