Monday, February 27, 2012

The Birds and The Bees

David and I agreed when we started this little homesteading adventure that his focus would be food and mine would be animals. It's not that I find growing veggies and fruit boring, it's just that I feel the whole animal aspect of any farm or homestead so much more interesting.

I've always had a green thumb.  My dad told me a few years ago that when I was a child he would always have me plant the things he had bad luck with so they would do good. A fact I did not appreciate when I was small. I actually hated working in the garden when I was at home.  And I do stand in awe of the fact that this tiny seed turns into a bush full of the worlds best tasting tomatoes or the sweetest corn. I also take a large amount of pride in growing organic food that my kids will actually eat. I love knowing that I did this amazingly healthy thing for them.  However, it still doesn't hold the same fascination and enjoyment that raising animals does.

I love the daily interaction I get to have with the animals and the personality I get back from them. I adore the looks and excitement I get from them when I walk into the room.  I'm pretty sure my dogs worship me, and my parents chickens always sing my praises as I walk past. The fact that I am very generous with treats has nothing to do with it...maybe.

So last week, after much research, I finally got around to ordering my chicks. It was a hard decision! There is so much that has to be taken into consideration. How many? Color of eggs? Size of eggs? How many eggs a week? Good layers or good for meat or both? Cold hardy? Friendly? Free range or "cooped up"? You can even take a little quiz on to see which breed would be best for you. In fact that is what I did and came up with a short list of little ladies I'd love to have. What I ended up getting are four Barred Plymouth Rock and 3 Partridge Plymouth Rock. These gals are friendly, dependable, good layers (brown eggs), do well in winter, and can stand being cooped up, but love running around.

They are hatching out on March 26th, and I should get them a day or two after that.  I know I'm very excited but I am surprised to see how excited the kids are especially Hannah, my oldest. She is reading the same books I am and throwing out little chicken facts. She's so excited that I decided to take her to the feed store with me. Which was a funny experience. She was terrified by the coyote traps and in awe of the goat and sheep food.  It was very sweet. So now I wait. I'm not very good at waiting, but I know I still have lots to do. With the help of my father I almost have the brooder box done.
I also got some "new" bee hives this week.  My dad was a bee keeper, and it's something I've always wanted to do. A few years back my cousin, Anne, started bee keeping, but due to certain twists in her life had to give it up. She was generous enough to loan me her stuff.  Now I just need lots more knowledge and a couple of colonies! I learn best from doing, so I will be (hopefully) taking some classes in April from a local bee expert that Anne recommends. I am most nervous about this. You might get stuck with thorns from a blackberry bush, chased by an angry chicken, but bees can kill you. My dad likes to tell me tales of when he got stung. That doesn't calm the nerves though. His best advice is to just get used to the fact that I'm going to get stung. I try to tell myself that it will be no big deal...can't be worse that tattoos and piercings...right?

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