Spring is sprung…


Grass is …um… never mind.

Wow. Dry winter. Dry spring, so far.

I’d worry for the cattle, if I could bring myself to wish them well. Really the only group I’d rather wish extinction upon is their owners. If they start dying like flies for lack of forage, maybe the owners will round them up and take them someplace else. Someplace not here. Hm. When I think of it that way, c’mon drought!

Good news on the chicken front, though…

Landlady is on record that this time she really means it – she wants out of the chicken business. “Most expensive free eggs in history” was the last word on that topic. And it’s true – even I could buy eggs much less expensively at the store in town than what I spend in feed and infrastructure. There’s the opportunity cost issue, though – I can only go to town at particular times and only buy eggs when I have cash in hand, but the chickens are already here and I really don’t have a lot better to do than to tend them, so what the hell? – plus there’s the issue that the little town nearest where I live has actually run out of eggs before.

And also it just makes sense to raise at least a little of my own food. I’ve pretty much given up on gardening, except for little individual things like rosemary. Maybe a real gardener could make something happen with this soil and climate and rodent situation, but I’m sick of trying. But chickens are easy. I don’t want to stop raising chickens, even though I admit it makes no economic sense.

So I needed another source of chickens. I’ve considered getting a brooder and trying to hatch mail-order eggs, and that’s still something I’d like to try. But that’s a whole new endeavor and I don’t want to bet my egg and meat supply on it. What I really wanted was a bi-annual source of new chicks.

And out of the blue, Neighbor L stepped up and said she wanted in. She’s been doing my laundry for going on two years now, and every week when I have a dozen fresh eggs that aren’t earmarked for me or Landlady, I bring them to her. She likes those eggs. If Landlady doesn’t want to do it – and I truly don’t blame her – L does.

Okay. Cool. Let’s do that!

And now back to a little light carpentry. Beautiful day!

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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12 Responses to Spring is sprung…

  1. Judy says:

    I’m still amazed your local feed store doesn’t stock or take orders for chicks in the spring. My experience showed me that fall chicks seem to be healthier and lay eggs in greater quantities for more years, than any of the spring chicks I have purchased.

  2. Joel says:

    I’m still amazed your local feed store doesn’t stock or take orders for chicks in the spring.

    Oh, they do. But on a catch-as-catch-can, first-come-first-served basis and the one time I actually bought half a dozen chick there I learned there really is such a thing as defective chickens. Never got a single egg from them.

    Never tried autumn chicks, to be honest. Since I can’t do heat lamps I’m not sure it would be a wise choice for me, but that’s the only objection I can think of offhand.

  3. Eric says:

    Don’t forget, another very important reason to have your own egg supply is that they (unlike) store bought eggs don’t need to be kept in the fridge.

  4. Does the local grocery have produce they end up throwing out? You can cut your feed cost in half if they’ll let you haul some of it off instead of paying someone to do it. See here:



  5. Joel says:

    They do, and I have occasionally scored. But this is a very rural place, and there’s competition, and I’m not really local or mobile enough to effectively compete.

    That said, I’ve collected scraps from neighbors all along, and with Neighbor L’s involvement that looks like it might become more systematic. Nobody around here seems to compost, because nobody gardens.

  6. Mike says:

    “Spring has sprung” well maybe where you are. Yesterday we had a storm blow through that brought snow, high winds, power outs, white outs and a 36 vehicle pile up on a near by highway. Enjoy the weather while you can.

  7. The soil issue is a multi-year undertaking, starting with the bedding from your chicken coop, sand, ashes, and collected rainwater. It appears that you have lots of clay, so you need sand to improve drainage, and organic matter to add loft, tilth, and nutrients. Chicken manure adds Phosporus and Nitrates, and a little bit of ash mixed in will give you Potassium…the traditional N-K-P of fertilizers. The rain water is to keep the composting chicken manure and straw damp enough to compost, then to water your plants. I suspect your well water may have nasty salts other than carbonates, which will mess with the compost bacteria and later, your plants. Oh, and lots and lots of shovel work…back breaking shovel work, unless you can turn the pile and incorporate the sand and clay with the compost with a skid steer, then moving it to your raised beds…Yeah. Not really worth it for a few veggies.

  8. Joel says:

    Funny you should say that, though. Because in the town nearest where I live, home to many generations of Mormon families, there are some very impressive gardens. I used to fix their rototillers, which for some reason about half of them wait till the last moment to get started and then when they wouldn’t start it was supposed to be a big emergency on my part. Happened every Spring, and since they often didn’t have a way of transporting the tillers I had to pick up and deliver so I saw the gardens. Nice – and impossible to imagine here not ten miles away. I assume it’s generations of soil amendment making the difference.

  9. With enough infrastructure, you can jump start the process by using things like digested sewage sludge or trucked in top soil. Mormons take their truck gardens seriously.

  10. Poodlehorde says:

    If you keep at least one rooster with your hens you will never need to buy chicks again. Just let one or more of your hens go bloody and they will raise plenty of chicks for poodlehorde

To the stake with the heretic!