More weather

Snowbanks in front of the chickenhouse

This February, tiny farming for me is mostly about, inside, watching seedlings in a growing number of plug sheets under lights, and outside, watching the weather. In this zone, Feb is a little early for thinking about garden conditions. Well, “normally”, it would be. Now, given the increasingly erratic winter, I’m trying to figure out a new early season production strategy. Conceivably, end of March could be shockingly warm and the ground dry enough to work, and instead of just seeding early peas, I could try some super early field transplants. But then, what if winter happened to come back, not for a day or two of April snow, as sometimes happens, but for a week or two, with freezing temperatures. Early plantings could get killed off, and then I’d need a second set of seedlings! This is how I’m kinda starting to think, about trying to plant around the weather, take advantage of unpredictably good conditions, while expecting some weird bad turns as well. What do last and first average frost dates really mean, given the last five years? Is a 30-year local rainfall average still in any way a useful guideline? Am I…exaggerating? Two days ago, it was 40°F (5°C) and raining right through the night. I was sure the forecast for an even warmer Wednesday would come through to finish off another, fourth big melt-off. Instead, yesterday morning it did a sudden 180, froze up and dumped a ton of snow. Today, there are 7-8′ snowbanks all around the barnyard (from snow plowing). The once and future chickenhouse practically disappeared… ;) Will spring and summer be different from that?!

Welcome to the chickenhouse…

The chicken coop

Chicken coop? Henhouse? I like ’em all. This weather-beaten little building has been empty for a while, but a little fix-up and it’ll be ready to go. You can see the electricity cable and water hose snaking out at the top left of the pic. All the modern conveniences! The last tenants, three years ago, were half a dozen turkeys, lead by crazy Tom, an increasingly aggressive male known for a flying drop kick that could stagger a grown human. I didn’t have any close encounters with Tom, although I was curious. Before that, when I first started the garden five years ago, a dozen or more incredibly colorful ornamental chickens roamed the barnyard, darting out of hedges, zipping under fences, you never knew where they’d pop up. These were all, like the goats, kinda pets, and were eventually given away. Now, the loose plan is to get, well, WORKING chickens, for meat and eggs. At first, it won’t be directly part of the organic veggie garden, more of a side project that I’ll do with Bob. We were going to start last season, but that wound up on the still-to-do list. Yesterday, I took a quick look at the chicken-raising regulations—here in Ontario, there is a quota system that requires buying permits to raise chickens, with an exception for small numbers, and I imagine it’s similar everywhere in North America. Oh, well, more on that as it happens!