While the summer heat is lingering, we know autumn is on its way! We had a couple cool days in-between our hot spells to remind us. It’s been quite a busy summer, but things are starting to calm down a bit around here.
First of all, we want to report that our cat Samantha is officially retired for the winter from her bird-raising duties. The baby guineas we hatched (our second hatching) from our late guinea girl Henrietta have gone to new homes. They went in two groups, one of four and one of five, which made us happy. We wanted them to be together as much as possible. While I miss the little cuties, it is nice to have one less stop on my morning rounds!
We’re not sure what will be happening next spring, so Sam remains on retainer. 😊 Our coop is full to capacity, but considering how high in demand our eggs are, we might consider expanding in the future. Right now, we can’t keep eggs “in stock”. We have a good list of regular customers including family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I literally have a waiting list (in my head) for where the next dozen will go every other day or so. In addition, I can always bring them to the farm stand where I work, another place that can’t get enough fresh eggs to sell! We’re also considering raising birds for meat as well, but I’m on the fence about that. I’ll probably write more about that at some point and maybe get some input from readers to help me in my decision.
Our own group of six guineas, now 8 weeks old, from the first hatching, are enjoying their first freedom around the coop. We now think we have at least two females, so we’re excited about that. We can’t wait until the day they are out patrolling the yard with our older “guinea boys”. I have a feeling one of those females is going to be their new boss!
Since we haven’t seen the fox for a couple weeks now, the older chickens are back to free-ranging, in the late afternoon/evenings when we’re home to keep an eye on things. We’ve still had a hawk around, though (knock wood) it seems to be staying out of the yard (hopefully thanks to all the flashy tape* we have hanging everywhere). We do remain diligent, however.
The pullets (young chickens) will get to try some free ranging eventually too; and then the “mini-guineas” will get to experience being outside in the run (or we may try letting the guineas out in the coop and run with the pullets; they seem to get along OK). The pullets are getting to the age where they will start laying eggs; and some of them are showing the signs they’re almost ready. Their combs and wattles starting to turn bright red is one of the signs. The other sign is that they squat down when you go to pat them, and at least one of our Auracanas, who we’ve named “Kermie” (because of her green legs), is doing that. We’re watching for one of her blue or green eggs to show up in the nesting boxes soon! Hopefully they can start laying in time to pick up the slack when our older girls go into their molt; when they will not likely lay much.
We’ve had some good harvest from our garden, even though a lot of the crops didn’t do well. The cherry tomatoes and yellow beans have been especially prolific. We’ve also had green beans, corn, potatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers. The beans are Luke’s favorite, and I love my Instant Pot* for steaming those for the whole family. We are also hoping for carrots and melons which are still growing. I’ll have some cool gourds for fall decorating, but the pumpkin crop did not do well, which I’m very sad about since I use those for both cooking and decorating.
I think I know where things went wrong, and it’s that our soil is lacking in proper nutrients. This fall, we will be adding the coop droppings from last winter to the soil (chicken poop is supposed to be one of the best fertilizers, but you have to let it age), and then topping it off with wood chips from the trees the Dadz has been cutting for firewood. Think how rich the soil in the forest is, and you can see where those chips could add a lot to the garden soil as well. We also need a plan for next year for keeping the weeds more under control (another problem we had this year), and I have some ideas for that.
While we didn’t have the huge bounty I was hoping for, I have been able to sell some of the tomatoes at the farm stand where I work and share some veggies with family and friends too. I’ve been working extra hours at the stand so that’s been part of my busy schedule lately. There will only be a few more weeks of working there until it closes for the winter, so I’m trying to make some extra money while I can.
Luke and I are still enjoying our daily walks. We had a nice relaxing Labor Day together, my first day off in a while. I slept in so by the time we left on our walk it was pretty hot and we were both slow. It’s so nice to have our shaded woods to walk in. I think his allergies are easing up a bit now. It’s either because we had the house closed more during the cool spell, or because whatever bothers him is now dying off (I’m hoping for that because we prefer to let the fresh air in). I stopped keeping flowers in the house to be on the safe side (though I really suspect it’s ragweed since that’s a common allergen), but we can still see the pretty sunflowers out on the patio. Remember I shared the photo of them recently? Well, apparently the squirrels decided they needed sunflower seeds and started tearing them all down! I salvaged what I could for the vase.
We are looking forward to the autumn weather, and things staying a bit quieter. While there is still fall harvest and clean-up, now that the birds are getting settled, we should have it a bit easier. Isn’t there a song about “summertime and the livin’ is easy”? That certainly hasn’t held true for us! We look forward to easier living and cooler weather in our fall! In the meantime, we’ll keep enjoying the beauty that late summer has to offer.