There really isn’t much to winter in the garden, except the muddly slog to the coop and back to bring in the eggs. Luckily my hens are responding well to having a light in the coop and I’m getting almost 3 eggs a day, daily from my 3 hens.
I haven’t posted in forever, and the hens producing now reminds me of the horrible luck I had last year. My coop was all done and ready to be inhabited, and I’d hatched 5 chickens out of 18 (pretty low hatching rate, but it was my first go). 2 were roosters so I was down to 3 hens. Wanting to get my flock up in numbers I went to a farm in the valley where a lady was selling some lovely lavender orpingtons. I knew there was a risk buying adult birds, but her farm and animals looked good and healthy and I bought 3 birds to bring home. Almost immediately 1 of my birds got a goopy eye. The next day one of her birds died suddenly, and another of mine had a goopy eye. Then both were coughing. The next day all my birds were coughing. Sadly I learned they had a chronic, incurable and highly contagious respiratory virus. There was nothing I could do to help them, and with such a contagious and virulent disease I couldn’t visit any house with chickens and go in their yard. I worried I would spread the disease throughout my neighbourhood. In the end the only thing I could do was cull the entire flock. It was a horrible learning experience.
Since then I have cleaned out and bleached the entire coop and run, and left it without a flock for 3 months. I worked with a neighbourhood kid down the road to incubate 10 more eggs (hatching 50% this time) and now have 3 happy, healthy hens. I can’t add to my flock with adult birds, I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, so I’ll be incubating more eggs with the preschool soon. That way I can have another bird, as can my parents who lost a bird to a predator last week.
Anyway, that was 6 months ago and now the only thing on my winter plate is the odd beet here and there, as I was so sad about the chickens I didn’t plant a winter garden. I’m shaking it off and thinking now about….
Seeds. Yup, I won’t bore you with another LONG, LONG list of seeds this time. I’m working away in my mind though, and have plans to:
Start some seeds in the next couple of weeks
Set up a new, more resilient greenhouse (those stupid plastic mini-greenhouses are worse than useless!)
Move the raspberries AGAIN
I did a couple of things last summer that worked well for me. I planted some thistle-y, thorny berries in the back planters against our fence to keep the marauders out. They are thriving (surprise surprise). I also hired a friend’s teenage son to help me with the weeding and hauling and coop-cleaning. He was fantastic to have around, very useful and I felt good about teaching him the basics of being a good employee (be confident, come up with ideas, work hard but take a break for water, ha!). I highly recommend hiring a teenager, it’s a good community builder.
Anyways, I hoping to keep the good ideas and toss the bad. I may even just toss these raspberries honestly, the berries are small, the harvests are small and they aren’t ever where I want them to be…
How are your plans coming along?