Our sheep love their grass!
The animals appreciate the showers too- no flies, nice cool grazing weather. After the hot April weather many of our laying hens decided to go “broody.” A broody hen’s wings droop and they cackle as they walk about with fluffed feathers, all while thinking about a private nest. We have about a dozen American and European heritage breeds of laying hens for the beautiful array of eggs you see at the markets- Barred Rocks, Marans, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Americanas, Lakenvelders, and Golden Campines- all beautiful breeds that thrive outdoors. Two Maran hens showed so much dedication to the nesting idea that we took them up to a private little chicken house where they could sit on a nest of a dozen eggs each without being disturbed. Just 21 days later and the hens have hatched out their little chicks. The fuzzy little ones follow their moms around as the hens cluck and scratch for food. After a break from laying, the laying hens have begun laying again (hooray) and I hope that future spells of hot weather won’t shut down everyone’s laying capabilities.
A mama hen and her day old chicks
As the nights continue to warm, it becomes Swiss chard season. With its beautiful stems of yellow, red, and green the Swiss chard lights up the garden as well as the kitchen. Swiss chard is a great substitute for spinach- it has a great flavor and is packed with nutrients. Chop and sauté the stems with onions and then add the chopped greens and cook like you would spinach. Another great addition to the vegetable fare is Bok Choy. This vegetable is also a beauty in the garden and it’s the ultimate stir-fry vegetable! Large, white stems add a sweet, juicy crunch to any meal. Cook with garlic, grated ginger, mushrooms, carrots, snap peas. Stir-fry the stems for 5 minutes, add the chopped leaves and wilt the leaves for 2 minutes.
Late spring greens-poc choi and cabbages
Warm weather also brings out the insect world. There is no better way to meet the six legged denizens of the world than by weeding a large vegetable field. After several hours on your hands and knees you begin to see the insect world around you. I have noticed, for example, that the lady bugs prefer hanging out on one particular weed over others. It makes me feel a little guilty ripping out their favorite habitat. Finding and destroying other bugs; however, brings no sense of guilt. Our worst so far this year is the Colorado potato beetle. The strikingly striped adults began appearing about a month ago. Since then we have surveyed the potatoes at least every three days to find all the adults, eggs, and larva and squish them. Save the potatoes! Using organic methods sometimes requires the laborious work of hand squishing something like potato beetles, but in the meantime we are able to enjoy all the benefits of friendly insects like predatory wasps and lady bugs that eat the aphids.
See you at the markets!
Coming soon-summer crops like zucchini!