Fall is not just a time for harvesting pumpkins, corn, squash, fall crop raspberries and our very abundant broccoli. After the recent rains, a bumper crop of these beauties were found springing up all through the woods. And while you should NEVER eat a mushroom in the wild without an expert and parental supervision and consent, I will tell you that Giant puffball mushrooms are heavenly eating - especially fried up in lots of butter and garlic and eaten with toast. Giant puffballs can grow bigger than a basketball and look like spongy Wonder Bread on the inside - that is, before they turn into a brown sac full of spores. The one on the left "busted its seams" and split, but, as you can see in the other photos, they are typically nice and round.
Luna's chicks were born on April 13th & 14th. On September 12th & 13th, the chicks born in that clutch started laying their first eggs - 6 months to the day after they were born. Luna and her siblings were just as reliable and started laying 6 months after they hatched. Talk about on-time reliability. So far, the chickens are sailing into first place if we were to compare them to the airlines' reliability!
What I didn't blog about was when Beatrice's chick hatched only a day or two after Midnight's 2 chicks. Beatrice and Midnight shared responsibility for the 3 babies, 2 of which were hens and one is a rooster. The hens should start laying around December 16th - 18th. Let's see if they keep up the good record of being on time.
Meet Delaney (and Chickmunk!)
Meet Delaney! She is a WWOOFer from Green Bay. WWOOF stands for WorldWide Opportunities for Organic Farmers, an organization that connects people interested in learning about organic farming and sustainable living. Delaney will be on the farm for the summer learning how to and helping with all the planting, weeding, chicken care, harvesting and preserving our harvest. She is an English/Biology major who just graduated. And just for added excitement, a friend is borrowing our barn for here wedding this June. Should be a great summer for all. But I expect it will be pretty busy, so I don't expect to blog too often. We'll see!
I'll have to post more recent photos, but here's the little gang. Each chick had a different mother, but all the eggs were raised by Luna. Can you tell who the daddy was for the two black chicks? The one on the lower right is Owl's baby. Spring is definitely in the air and it isn't just the chickens who are raising young ones!
Luna setting on her batch of 9 eggs
On April 10th one year ago, we started incubating our first eggs. Three weeks later, we hatched 24 chicks, one of whom was a little yellow banty hen with black spots. We later named her Luna, after the Harry Potter character. This winter Luna got very "broody" and insisted on sitting on the golf ball I put in the nest box to encourage the hens to lay. But it was the middle of winter and raising chicks that would be born into a cold and snowy landscape made no sense to me. So, every egg she laid, I pulled out. After awhile, she finally gave up on the idea and did what less looney chickens do - eat, roost, stay close and stay warm.
This spring, she got the idea once again and began setting on the golf ball. This being an exeptionally cold and wet spring, I calculated the end of 21 days of brooding into mid-April, thinking that for sure the warmer weather would return. For over a week Luna sat on the golf ball, until the date arrived that I thought would assure the chicks arrival on a warm spring day. I collected 9 eggs laid by all the hens in the flock on a day and placed them under Luna. For three weeks she diligently sat on the eggs, going out for a quick meal and drink and then heading back for the nest. She was very protective when anyone got near, puffing up to make herself look big and chirruping a warning to stay away.
April 14th was the calculated date of arrival. Sure enough, the first chick hatched close to 10 pm the day before. A few eggs had pips, so I knew that by the due date we would have more arrivals. Little did I know that their arrival would coincide with a layer of snow in the morning! It goes to show that the best "laid" plans do not always pan out! As of noon on the due date (April 14th) we have 5 chicks (4 yellows - one with 4 neat black stripes on its back, and one mostly black with yellow spots). On inspecting their feet, we have one yellow that has the extra toes, so we know that the daddy was a silkie.
More pictures to come later
Follow the antics of the Science room chicks and their offspring as they hang out on Maggie's Farm. During the summer, we grow vegetables and raspberries that are sold to Madison's restaurants.