Spring arrived so quickly that my eyes are dazzled by the sudden contrast from Winter’s stark whiteness to Spring’s burst of color. The leafy greens of trees, white blossoms of apple trees, and the various shades of purple of the lilac bushes are stimulating. And added to that are the vivid bluebirds nesting in the birdhouses, the ruby-throated hummingbirds zooming to the nectar I put out for them, the beautiful rose-breasted grosbeaks, and a glimpse of a brilliant orange Baltimore oriole, among many other birds.
I set up a large bowl–which usually I put under a plant pot to catch surplus water–on the large rocks for a birdbath. It’s fun watching the different birds use it.
This weekend was quite busy. Mother’s Day weekend we bought four Rhode Island Red chicks at the nearby farm store. After we brought them home, we decided to buy four more because of, uh, “chicken math,” which is when you end up buying more poultry chicks (of various types) than you intended. However, when we returned to the store, we discovered that someone had bought ALL the remaining chicks. They must have been doing a bit of chicken math as well. I was told by store staff that more chicks were expected but there’s no way to determine a delivery date for live chicks; they arrive when they arrive. They suggested I call ahead each day to see if any had arrived at the store. I called a couple times, and they still didn’t have Rhode Island Red chicks.
So we went to Plan B, which was to call the farm store that is further away to see if they had chicks. They did. Since we were making the trip anyway, we ordered more poultry feed online from the store. It saves time and effort to order online. When the store notifies us that the order is ready, we drive to the drive-thru and they load it in for us. We are trying to get ahead on poultry feed so we don’t run out if there is a sudden “shortage.” While EJ waited for our order to be loaded into the pickup, I went into the store to buy the chicks. The chicks were only $1.33 each at this store instead of the $4 which we paid for the chicks at the other store. It might be that they are reaching the end of their live poultry season so they are on sale to move them out. They had other types of chickens as well, and even some turkey chicks. I admired them all but I want you to know that I limited myself to only the four we had intended. I did tease EJ a bit, though, asking him how many chicks he thought I could buy for the $25 dollars I had in my wallet. I laughed when he sputtered that I was to buy FOUR AND NO MORE. Lol.
With the rising price of gas, which is at historic highs and expected to go higher, we combine trips whenever possible so on the way to the farm store, we stopped in at the plant nursery that is on our route. They finally had their herbs available. EJ bought a few vegetable plants and I bought most of the herbs plants I wanted. The ones they didn’t have we ordered as seeds online. We can plant some this year and save others for next year. On the way home from the farm store, EJ dashed into a grocery store to buy a few items we needed while I stayed in the pickup with Hannah Joy and the chicks.
If we had been able to buy the four additional chicks sooner, we would have put them in with the other four, but the first four have grown so quickly, and are so much bigger, that we were afraid they would bully the little ones so we set up a second cage in the bathroom. The older chicks have probably quadrupled in size in a week, growing from a ball of downy fluff that we could hold in one hand to at least about the size of Robins with most of their feathers. EJ had used the bottom half of a dog crate for the original chicks. I used the top half of the dog crate–flipped over–for the second group of chicks. I placed the crate on top of the other crate, but kitty-wampus so I can access both cages to give them food and water. EJ has placed gratings on both crates to keep the chicks safe.
It’s rather pleasant having the chicks in the bathroom. I often hear their soft chirping. Hannah Joy runs in to check on them if they squawk louder. The chicks run at each other in, I think, an attempt to establish their pecking order. Sometimes they stretch their growing wings as if they are doing yoga. A few times, I saw an older chick take a “dust bath.” She got food on her body and the others gathered around her to peck it off. I notice one look up at the grating as if she’s trying to calculate how to escape. They are adorable when they all huddle together in sleep.
Sunday night EJ and I stood outside and watched a lunar eclipse. We watched until the earth’s shadow completely covered the moon and then headed back in to go to bed. It was gorgeous. We also saw a smoke trail of a large meteorite that streaked across the sky. And we spotted the eyes of deer in the forest.
It’s been so dry out that I have begun watering the fruit trees and bushes. Our oscillating sprinklers are getting old and aren’t working right so I used a smaller round sprinkler. It doesn’t cover as large an area as the others so I have to go out every half-hour or so and move them.
I have decided that this year I won’t mow the grass beyond the large rocks in order to conserve gas. I also eyed the mound of crushed gravel that we bought last year to fill in places in our driveway that get eroded by heavy rain. The grass underneath my clothesline grows enough that I have to mow it to keep it short, but it’s sparse enough that the blower up a cloud of sand. I thought that if I shoveled some crushed gravel under the clothesline, it would prevent the grass from growing so I wouldn’t have to bother mowing it, which would also conserve gas. EJ thought that was a good idea. I was just going to shovel the gravel under there, but EJ said it would be better to hoe up the grass and level the area a little to reduce the risk of the gravel being washed away. So yesterday I hoed, raked, and shoveled. The gravel mound is near the clothesline so it wasn’t that far to carry shovelfuls. I got all the area covered in a layer of gravel. I will ask EJ if he thinks I should make the layer thicker. As I walk on the gravel, it will be pressed into a hardened surface.
The outside temperature was Summer hot last week but it has now cooled down to pleasant coolness–in the 50’s or 60s during the day which makes it pleasant to work. At night it’s dipping into the 30s and 40s. We refuse to turn the furnace back on at night; our blankets keep us toasty warm. However, to make sure it doesn’t get too cool for the chicks, I moved our little space heater into the bathroom for them.
Because of the cold night, I had to lug my house plants back inside. They are too heavy to keeping moving in and out so I’ll just leave them in until the nights are consistently warmer. EJ brings many of veggie and herb starts out on the deck during the day. They are in small containers so it’s not difficult to take them in each evening.