Friday, March 26, 2010

Somebody...Save me from myself!

Well, it sure is Spring, isn't it? 

Totoro, my sweet, silly, black silkie chicken, has gone broody.  This is no surprise. Silkies are fantastic little mothers, and love nothing more than to raise chicks after chicks after chicks. 

It all started early in the morning last weekend.  Rich noticed Totoro wasn't in the yard with the other chickens. I thought at first she was just laying. But she was still in the nest around noon. And still there in the afternoon. And still there at night, even after the rest of the flock was roosting.  You see, rather than abandoning the egg she'd just laid, like most modern hatchery birds do, Totoro had decided to become a mom.  You can see her here, sitting on her egg, as well as everyone else's eggs, keeping them all nice and toasty warm.

Of course, since my chickens' closest experience with being serviced by a real rooster is having me grab their tails and ruff up their feathers a bit (What?! It makes them happy, okay!) Totoro can sit on that nest until my non-existent cows come home (I'm not that far gone yet, people!) and she won't get any chicks. 

That is, unless I slip some fertile eggs under her.  And I could. Yes, I could. And that would make her happy. Yes. Very Happy.  I could use the interwebz, and contact a breeder.  For about $25 that breeder could bubble-wrap and double-box and then overnight a handful of  "hatching eggs."  And then Totoro could hatch them. 

And yes, I've already looked.  And I've found several breeders with eggs I'd like to try.  Breeds I've only ever dreamed of owning. Like little miniature chickens that look proud and aggressive, but are the size of a coke can at full growth.  Or puffy lavender colored chickens with fuzzy feet. Or big giant chickens twice the size of my current largest.  Or chickens who lay olive green, or chocolate-colored eggs. 

But I'm only allowed 6 chickens in Alameda.  And I already have 6 chickens. And I love them all. But I want to hatch some eggs.  Somebody, stop me! Don't let me run afowl (!) of the law!  I must resist the anthropomorphic bittersweetness of this bird vainly trying to hatch a wooden egg. Please! Talk me out of assisting this attempt at procreation.  

Or... Better yet, become my accomplice! Who among you wants chickens? Some of you must! Cause if you'll let me, I'll help you order eggs, and we'll let Totoro hatch them out for you.  And then I'll send the adorable little fuzzballs home with you, promise.  Or I'll keep them until they are teenagers, and handraise them so they are tame and social when they move into their new home in your backyard coop. 

Come on. It's Spring!  You know you want to...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Departure from Reasonableness

So, as I am bringing in the last of my winter crop, it's time to review what I learned in my first foray into food growing:
1. If your soil is good, your plants practically raise themselves. Seriously. Just stay on aphid patrol, and your winter veg will flourish. 
2. In the winter garden, some things go dormant, (my beets, spinach) showing no growth during the dark months. Don't panic; you'll harvest in spring.
3. One flat of veggies, grown out well, provides a LOT of produce.
4. In the cool damp of a bay area winter, additional irrigation is not necessary.
5. And, finally, if you fall in love with how beautiful your garden looks, you won't harvest your crops at their peak. Remember that the beauty of a veggie garden is transitory, and don't be precious about it...GET YOUR CROPS IN AND HARVESTED.

So, winter over, it's time for the spring season. I'm trying to be reasonable about spring and not bite off more than I can chew. Hmmmm....So far, the whole reasonable thing? Epic Fail. 

Operation "More than You can Chew"  is already well underway.   Seedlings? I have three flats currently sprouting like gangbusters.  I have a further 20 packets of seeds or so that are direct sow.  Obviously, if I filled my winter garden with 3 direct sows and 1 flat of seedlings, then this quantity of plant matter exceeds the capacity of my current garden space. 

So this weekend, I began to prepare more space by digging up more ornamentals. Funny how much less I care about my flowers now than I did in Fall. I'm quickly coming to the opinion that if it doesn't feed me, or feed my animals, or do something beneficial for my garden, then it's a freeloader, and must be removed. Okay, not entirely. I'm still keeping the Irises that remind me of Mom.  But everything else? It's either gone, or going, if not this season then next.  A well tended veggie garden is easily as beautiful as a perennial flower bed. 

I'm also converting Kalin's old sandbox into my lettuce/greens garden. Oh, and then I'm planting raspberries and blueberries in the backyard. And a loquat tree...But really, I'm being reasonable. Sort of...