Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let the season begin


I learned that the color of a chicken's ear lobe relates to the color of egg it lays. Red ear lobe = brown eggs White ear lobe = white or tinted eggs. This is not strictly true but is generally the case.

The largest egg ever recorded was laid by a Black Minorca in 1896. It weighed 12 oz., had a circumference of 9 in., and contained 5 yolks. Wow. These facts came from the book Keeping Chickens by Jeremy Hobson and Celia Lewis.

I have been planting and planning, at least a bit. It seems like I work in slow motion sometimes. It makes me wonder how in the world I'll get the work done when the planting season comes on for real. I guess I won't be hauling wood, laying fires, emptying ashes, shoveling, etc. when spring gets here. Phew.

January 22 I planted leeks, onions, Asian onions, parsley and lisianthus. They are just starting to come up. I planted the seed really thickly to use it up. I want to plant more Asian onions later on. Today I planted some really early start eggplant and peppers - 6 each of King of the North and New Ace peppers and 6 each of Ping Tung and Thai Long Green eggplant.

For the greenhouse I planted head lettuce, escarole, broccoli, cauliflower, zinnias and tomatoes. Yesterday I had a revelation about the greenhouse. It doesn't snow in there! What I mean is, when I am planning what to plant there and when, I don't have to think about whether or not the snow will be melted or the soil too damp to work. I just need to think about temperature and frost free dates. This may not mean much to anyone who may be reading this, but for me it was a very useful realization. From there I could work backwards to think about when to plant seeds in the house for the greenhouse. I am taking a guess that the greenhouse lets me plant a month earlier than planting outside. This really is just a guess though. The result? I planted some brassicas and lettuce that should be ready for the greenhouse in 4 to 6 weeks (March 5 -17) when I am certain there will be snow on the ground outside but feel confident the greenhouse will be warm enough for the plants. Kind of like mid April with no snow.

Oh I haven't a clue if this is correct or even if I am making sense.

Here are today's plantings:

(You may want to skip this next bit if you are not a gardener or cook.)

Planted 2-5-9:
Head Lettuce - 4 each - Winter Marvel, Crisp Mint, Four Seasons, Winter Wonderland
Tomatoes - 1 each - Green Zebra, Black From Tula, Sun Gold, Sweet Million, Beaverlodge, Abrason, Red Sun, Early Cascade
Brassicas - 8 each - Early Pearl Cauliflower, De Cicco Broccoli; 4 each - All the Year Round Cauliflower
Escarole - Giant - 4
Zinnia - Giants of California - 4
Peppers - 6 each - King of the North, New Ace
Eggplant - 6 each - Ping Tung, Thai Long Green

I continue to really enjoy the chickens. Yesterday and today I got 8 eggs, a new record. I think only the 2 Silver Spangled Hamburgs haven't started laying yet. The rooster is mighty protective of his hens. He makes a point of getting between me and the hens no matter where I go. So if I spread grain outside he stands in the doorway.

If I am giving them water inside he stands by the inside door.

If I check for eggs, he hops up on the roost. Then as I walk back to the house, he crows proudly. He protected his hens from the 'human.' So far this is workable but may get dicey as the snow melts if he starts chasing me. We may need to have some serious talks.

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