All of the raised beds are now built. The big ones in the back are not full yet, but one of them is getting close. I will be so glad when the day comes that I have enough space to actually build proper compost piles and no close neighbors to worry about if something smells. We have gotten all of the old compost moved into the beds, though, with manure on the bottom. The last 4 x 8 foot bed will be filled with what the animals generate over the next few weeks. Once that is filled we will have to haul it off the property again.
I’ve got several tomato plants that have sprouted. The Abraham Lincoln and Constoluto Genevese started sprouting on day 5. The Opalka and Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom started coming up today. Some of the lettuce has sprouted but some hasn’t. I think the seed might be too old, but I’ll give it a few more days and in the meanwhile, I will do a germination test tomorrow and if they are good, start some more. I drowned a couple of the cups and that may have been part of the problem, too. But I am very happy about the tomatoes. I can get lots of varieties of lettuce as starts, but the tomatoes around here are pretty limited to stuff like Early Girl, which produces well, but I don’t think is that tasty, and cherry tomatoes. Or stuff that has little chance of producing much in this climate, like Brandywine, because it has too long a growing time even when started early, but hope springs eternal to some folks when it comes to tomatoes.
The rabbit kits are 3 weeks old and have entered their most adorable phase. It will last until they are about 5 weeks old and then they start getting less cuddly looking. I am really pleased with the litter from the Firefly x Wildfire cross. They are big and have beautiful red coats. Firefly is a first time mother so I didn’t know what to expect from her. All of the white kits are doing really well, too, though not as big as the reds. Luna has done a great job as a first time mother and Persephone as a second time mother.
We will have 3 more litters due on the 18th of April. No first time moms in that bunch. But there will be two colored litters and one white. After that Ruby will get bred and she will be a first timer. I won’t have anymore first timers after that for quite some time and only if I get a black doe kit out of one of the mixed litters.
I am not sure when we will be ordering meat chicks. I’d like to get a couple turkey poults to raise for the holidays as well, but they would not be able to go in with George and Gina until they were at least 15 weeks old and big enough to stand up for themselves, so I’m not sure if the logistics will work themselves out or not. They will be so much larger than the meat chicks by 6 weeks and they are supposed to eat a different feed, which makes it complicated. If the meat chicks actually get processed by 8 weeks then it might work out okay. But I may have to have someone else raise them for me this year. I am having someone else raise meat ducks, too.
If I do get turkeys I want to get Blue Slate, Bourbon Red, or Narragansett this time. I don’t want to risk getting Royal Palms and mixing them up with the older birds. Since a Tom may not be fertile until two years old (sometimes sooner), harvesting the wrong turkey would set our eventual breeding program back a year). Getting ones that are distinctively different would prevent that. Gina has still not laid her first egg and she is almost a year old. She has oyster shell and grit and the right feed, but nothing yet.
The ducks are laying semi-consistently. I am getting 3 eggs a day. I sold 2 dozen today to my son’s biology teacher, so that was $10. I need to contact my regular customer and see if she wants any more. It’s been a while since she bought some. I used up the two cracked eggs (were dropped after being washed) in some meatballs I made tonight. My meatball recipe calls for a pound each of ground lamb, ground rabbit, ground beef, and ground pork. Instead of plain ground pork I used a pound of the sweet Italian sausage from the portion of sausage sow we bought. I really liked it that way, so we will definitely use it up like that, I think. I am tempted to sub out one of the meats for ground duck meat in the future, only the only ground duck we have left is already shaped into patties, so maybe not.
The chickens are also laying consistently without a light. I am worried a little about Mom’s elderly chicken Kyri. She is 4 next month and she walks like a little old lady and when she sits she looks like an owl. I’m not sure she’ll be with us much longer. When she goes, that will be the last of the first chickens we raised here. Everyone else is two or not yet one. Kyri gets extra little treats when the other chickens aren’t looking. She is a good hen and is still laying about 3 blue-green eggs a week despite her age. When she goes we’ll only have 2 Auracaunas left. I know laying hens don’t live forever, but I do get attached and I will miss her when she dies.