Nothing says spring like chicks! We added three new girls to our flock this week. Once again, I went with Ameraucana and I am hoping that if we handle them often and love them up, they will be friendlier than our last crew. It's a funny thing- our boys love nothing more than yard work and chores involving rakes and shovels. They have pint-sized garden tools and gloves, and are always eager to help out. They're at an age now where they can help out with some of the responsibility of cleaning the coop and keeping the food/ water/ hay fresh. Although we are raising city kids, I love the idea of having the boys learn how to take care of farm animals and tend a garden. Who knows, one day we may end up living the farm life! A girl can dream. For now...urban chickens it is!
We have transitioned into our summer rhythm where Vijay naps late into the afternoon, and Vik and I stroll down to the garden once my husband gets home from work. I am learning so much this year- my first year as a real vegetable gardener. Raised beds are the best (in my humble opinion)- the soil is so rich, and the weeds so few. I'm starting to boast about having a green thumb, but I'm pretty sure it has little to do with me, and more to do with the quality of the soil, and the wonderful rain we've been having.
I am keeping all of my thoughts organized in my garden notebook, and so far, I've learned the following: *Just because you buy an entire pack of seeds doesn't mean you need to plant every single one of them. I have grown enough spinach and lettuce to fill about 10 grocery bags, and I've been giving it away to anyone who will take it. I've made spinach pesto, spinach omelets, spinach pasta, and endless salads. We're a bit greened out. *Same goes for radishes- no one family can possibly eat over 100 radishes and still be excited about them. *Stake your peas as soon as they start to sprout. I waited until mine were a tangled crazy clump before I tried to stake them. A bit of a disaster, but still...we are getting plenty of peas.
I'm sure tomato season will be teaching me quite a lot considering I bought my tomatoes based soley on their names...Striped German, Mortgage Lifter, Yellow Pear, and about 5 others. I might have gone a bit overboard. We'll see what happens!
This part of my day is so idyllic...Vik is such an easygoing soul, he is happy to eat some dirt and hang out while I fuss with my plot. We load our basket full of kale, spinach, lettuce and peas, and make our way home to start dinner.
The walk to and from our community garden is gorgeous...it is a treat to stroll along the streets of this beautiful town of ours...
The flowers have been extraordinary this year. Blooms spilling out over every fence, leaving me to wonder what beauty is hiding in the backyards we pass. Poor Vik...we can hardly make it a block without stopping for dozens of pictures.
When we finally turn onto our block, my heart feels so much lighter. These walks are my tonic after a busy day of cooking, cleaning and chasing my wild toddler.
And then comes the most laughable part of our urban gardening experience- chicken wrangling. Our girls don't seem to understand the concept of coming back to their coop once night falls. And so we head out into the backyard to chase down our four birds. It is always comical, with one of us wielding a rake, Vijay making matters worse by scaring them away, and my husband cursing lightly under his breath as he crawls through bushes and under the deck. Any ideas of how to train our fine feathered friends to come back to the coop on their own each night? We'd appreciate some tips!
Our yard has gone through many phases. When we first looked at the house, I can assure you the yard was not a selling point. It was a very plain postage stamp of a yard. I had a vision for the space, but as with any great vision, it took years to realize. While there are still many tweaks and changes that we would like to make (hard to believe there could be more to do given the tiny space!), we're feeling pretty happy with where it's at these days. Here's a quick recap:
The latest addition to our yard is our brand new chicken coop. There's a great story behind it... I received an email from a friend alerting me to a very cool opportunity a few months ago. DownCity Design, a local non-profit, was teaming up with a high school to build three chicken coops for the community. Anyone interested was invited to submit an application. I had been toying with the idea of getting chickens again, so the timing seemed perfect. Why not, right? What's the likelihood I would be chosen? We were thrilled when we received the news that we HAD been chosen to receive a custom built coop, absolutely free of charge. Pretty amazing, right?
The high school students work with architects to build the coop based on the customers needs, and in the process they learn design, build and business skills. After our initial consultation, the students took the next month to design and build our coop. Last week was the delivery, and it was pretty thrilling. The students pulled up in a U-haul, piled out and unloaded our coop. To say it is a masterpiece doesn't do it justice. They thought of everything, and my favorite touch- the nesting boxes are low enough that Vijay can collect eggs.
The students were so excited to show Vijay all of the special features, and he was equally as thrilled to be hanging with the big kids. Of course our chickens are already spoiled, and used to roaming around the yard during the day, but now they have a beautiful home to come back to in the evening.
Oh yes, my friends...we took the plunge and added a few new members to our family. Four peeping little balls of fluff arrived over the weekend, and to say that we are ecstatic would be an understatement. I had chickens before the boys were born (and that is a story you absolutely have to read... here, here and here), but since my last flock found a new home, I've been a bit too busy chasing babies and toddlers to even entertain the thought of chickens again.
But when I won a Providence-based contest for a custom made chicken coop (more on that later), I thought...well, the time is now! You can't have a gorgeous coop without chickens, now can you? And so, we welcomed four little chicks into our home (two Marans, and two Araucana). As of now, they are living in our laundry room, staying warm and toasty under a heat lamp. Of course, Vijay is obsessed with them (and learning how to keep his enthusiasm under control and be gentle!), and Vik just wants to gnaw on them (he's in that fun stage where everything goes in his mouth). All in all, it's shaping up to be an exciting spring. And I can't think of a more appropriate way to celebrate Earth Day- teaching my boys about the joy of producing food close to home!