So while the SB was home over the holidays, we had much discussion over chickens and ducks. He sent me this "sketch up" model of a chicken coop. It is planned for the bank above the upper lawn near the bees. And although it is a long walk on a cold morning, it is the best place for warmth and lack of dampness.....And is that not the cutest chicken coop you have ever seen? The bees will live right by that tree. I say "will live" because I was out there the other day to take them a snack and I am now sure that if they were there, they are not any longer. I opened the hive and poked around and they are not there. They may have been, but the bees I saw earlier may also have been from another hive just coming over for a snack since there wasn't anyone home. I e-chatted with my bee mentor (who rocks) and he said that he has lost half of his hives this winter. Makes me feel not so bad about losing my one in the first year. I am planning to reinstall in the spring. This crew should have it a little easier as the last bees left behind a lot of pre-made comb, so the next ones won't have to work so hard - they can get right to the brood rearing and honey making. In the meantime, I am going to try to process the rest of the honey that I had saved out in the event that the bees needed it.
The weather was spectacular today. Amazing. I went out back and started hacking at my frozen bale of potting soil and eventually chipped off enough for another seedling flat. I planted Scarlet Charlotte chard, Italian Silver Rib chard, Baby Ball beets, a rainbow mix of beets, and Marveille de Quatre Saisons lettuce. In the past I have just gone out in the middle of March and sprinkled seeds in the garden. I find thought that things tend to sprout unevenly, so I will have a few plants very close together and then spaces without any.... This year I am envisioning cute little well spaced rows/checkerboards so as to maximize the use of the spaces. I am hoping to be able to put things out earlier with the row covers for protection. The sooner this party starts the better as far as I am concerned. And on that note, the early leeks and bunching onions are cooperating. Sprouting already! Since I expect I may have more seedlings (of all sorts) than I can actually put in my garden, I will be happy to share. Leave a comment and let me know what you are interested. Even if I don't know you. Happy to share. Really.
I also checked out the stuff under the row covers. The spinach is snapping back from the blistering cold nicely, and the Italian Silver Rib chard is making a comeback as well. The jury is out on the Scarlet Charlotte chard, and the arugula. I also ordered more potatoes today. I saved some from last year, but I want to try a few new things... So I ordered an early season, a late season and some Jerusalem artichokes and another variety of onion (thinking I can put them in later in the summer for fall harvest.) The SB gets frustrated with me for buying too much for the garden, but I figure, If I get one pound of onions per pack of seed I will (financially) break even. I only need 3-4 lbs of potatoes.... At least if you compare with the prices of organic produce at the local spots - $2/lb for organic onions and potatoes. Seems like a lot to me..... But I am not trying to make a living at it either.
There is much to do tomorrow. I want to get some newspaper down in the paths between the new beds to start killing out the grass. I also have to re-paper the old paths since the newspaper and grass clippings we were using to smother grass and weeds have broken down. We have a giant pile of horse poop that needs to be moved down to the old gardens and a bunch of strawberries that need to be moved. We are going to experiment by nestling them under the blueberries. At least until we come up with a long term strawberry bed. I need to check all the new trees and re-spray with Deer Off and add some fencing tubes to keep the nibbling creatures from eating away the bark at the bottoms of the trees. We lost a couple early on that way. Ground hogs or rabbits. But we need to get that taken care of before everyone comes out of hibernation.
Soon, it will be time to order the ducks....um, EEEEEEP. OMG! DUCKLINGS!
The SB and our friend D will be coming to town over the weekend. Nothing like a few strapping boys around to get some real work done. I'll be providing the food and the cash to keep the ball rolling.