I have been thinking about what, yes, what to write about this week. The cold has just taken all of my go away and I was thinking I would just feel sorry for myself and not write a week in review. BUT, Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed and for the first time in many days I did not have to bundle up to do the morning feeding. Some of the water bowls were not frozen. I came in and looked at the calendar, February 1, the first day of a new month. I set down to check my facebook page and that is when it happened. I found myself wanting to share about the month of January, the sad discouraging month where I felt like nothing was accomplished. As I was sitting there enjoying my misery it started walking across the the window of my memory...Why this past month has been one of the most important months here on our farm...
Momma duck started her nest but the eggs froze, her eggs were gathered and we are waiting for the weather to be a little warmer. There was always a doubt about her eggs because she and Deedle did not have the best relationship. One day this week Mr. Bootsie from the coop saying you do not have to worry about fertile ducks eggs any longer. This will make the setting of our girl a much happier time because now we can look forward to deedles!!!
With all the hens molting and only 2 girls hatched in the spring, I have been very careful using eggs. I wanted my stash of eggs to make it until my layers returned to producing. Finally all of the girls from the July hatching have started laying. I was able to boil a dozen eggs and not think about what I may need them for. Within a few days with 6 girls laying, I will be overrun with eggs once again!!! A problem I will be looking forward too!!!
The plug was pulled on the heated greenhouse, there was not enough in there to pay the price to heat the greenhouse in the extreme cold temperatures. But what a lesson I learned. I am going to cut back all of the plants and see if they put out from the roots and I know some of the plants are fine because they were blooming when I pulled the protective row cover off of them.
The cold tunnels out in the garden with no protection were opened on Friday, I walked in knowing there would not be anything, in some areas I had loss but in other areas the plants were happy. Plenty of chickweed for the girls, the ground was not frozen, I pulled chickweed and found volunteer chard and pac-choi plants which needed to be transplanted. The peas plants suffered the worst, I may be able to cut some of them back, they may grow and produce peas this spring. The row tunnel was checked and the greens were growing and beautiful under the row covers.
All of our flock, our goats, chickens and ducks made it through, I was pleased as there was no frost bite in the coop. There was extra protection placed around the barn and coops but the fur and feather babies made it through with no loss or sickness.
Now I am sure some of you are asking why as I so pleased. You see we just made it through the coldest January in many a year. This is our first time being a farmer on our own. When I was young, I had the backup of knowledgeable parents who could help me through something like this. But Mr. Bootsie and I were on our own. There are folks who wonder, when they visit with us, why are there farming magazines in the bathrooms and on the kitchen counter most of the time. We read and study always trying to learn what to do if...Well, the if came and it was cold, bitter cold...so cold you could fill a water bowl with warm water, and return minutes later to see a chicken trying to break ice. The duck pond became so thick we could not break the ice. Those of you who experience this every winter are laughing but here in central Virginia this is not the normal. Our day time temperatures should have been in the high 30's to mid 40's, the night lows would have been the temperatures we experienced as daytime highs, below freezing. This has truly been an adventure for us.
February 1, dark of the moon, time to plant the seeds we grow under light for our first planting outside. I brought all of the soil into the house so it could warm and all of the seeds are in pots of warm soil around the wood stove. As soon as I see life we will set up our grow lights and grow these plants to be put in the garden in mid-March. It is amazing how quickly my mind changes, with the planting of my seeds, there was a rebirth, a new beginning, I am ready for I will be putting plants in the soil in 6 weeks. What a wonderful world we given are the pleasure of enjoying, I am so excited about the miracle of the seed. How can that tiny seed produce the wonderful food we will be eating for the next year!!!
I hope all of this is behind us and we move forward with the spring of 2014!!! With the help of the kefir milk, fresh eggs, good farm raised and preserved food there was no sickness on our farm. The lesson we learned...we can do this... but, I would rather not have to use the knowledge we learned this year. I really do like the mild winters and am hoping this record breaking January was an exception to the rules of life.
As we move forward, I THANK YOU for visiting with us, setting by the wood stove and enjoying a cup of something warm to drink. A bowl of homemade soup made with veggies from our pantry. As I heard Momma say so many times...You'all Come Back, now.