Chickens and Farley Mowat!

What a week! I had quite a few titles in mind for this week; what from “Welcome Rebecca!” to “Farmers Tan” to “Hi Hoe, Hi Hoe, It’s Off to Work we Go!”, each of which has its own story. But I decided on “Chickens and Farley Mowat” because I believe one of the most exciting events of the week was the arrival of our chickens and rooster (named in memory of Farley Mowat, one of Chloé’s favorite authors).

Johnny and Daizy had told me before I arrived at the farm that they had a chicken coop if I would like to have chickens but I figured I would take one thing at a time. First: learn how to grow food. And so I passed on the opportunity. The other intern Chloé, however, was super excited to possibly take care of some chickens and did a whole bunch of research. Thus on Wednesday night we travelled to a friend’s farm and brought back 13 chickens!

We went later on at night because chickens have difficulty seeing in the dark and so it is easier to catch them. As amusing as it may have been, we did not have to run around trying to catch the chickens. (I’m happy that wasn’t the case and I’m sure the chickens were too.) They were located in the upstairs barn and so we created a production line from upstairs to the truck just outside the barn. This way no one had to take the risk of walking up or down the stairs with 2 chickens in hand. Christine, the owner did the initial catching and then passed them off to us.

Now, when transferring chickens, you are supposed to hold them by the legs, letting them hang upside down. In this position they become somewhat paralyzed/unconscious as all the blood is in their heads, and so it was pretty straight forward passing them off. It got more complicated however as we had to put more and more chickens in the same large cage. As Chloé transferred them to the cage, they came out of their paralysis and were much more likely to move about.

Being amateur chicken catchers, we were all trying to be very gentle with the chickens and were moving slower than necessary. The night was therefore not without some excitement. I believe it was chicken #9 that took advantage of our kindness and jumped out of Chloés reach and made a run for it! Good thing the farm dog was nearby and so the chicken only made it so far as under the truck. And Christine the owner saved the day and returned the chicken to the cage.

Once home, we simply brought the 2 large cages into the chicken coop and left them so that they could come out as they wish and get used to their surroundings. Christine had said that they might not lay as much at first seeing as they would be in a new environment but they very next day we collected 10 eggs! And the next day after that as well! So we will be making lots of frittatas and omelettes this summer.

The next day Chloé and Johnny also went to go pick up the rooster! And he’s beautiful; he’s got some shiny green feathers amidst his black tail feathers and I believe he is going to take good care of our chickens. They say it is good to have a rooster because he will act as the leader of the group and help prevent the chickens from fighting amongst each other. Eggs that are fertilized are also apparently better for you. And so Chloé is now known as “Mother Hen” and if you actually wake up at 530AM you can hear Farley Mowat crowing. (Thankfully he’s not that loud and doesn’t actually wake me up, so we are still friends.)

But that’s not the only exciting thing that happened this week! When I got back to the farm on Monday night, I found someone else in the trailer: Rebecca (the 3rd intern)! There was a miscommunication and we were all expecting her to show up last Thursday. And so when Chloé and I left on Saturday and there was still no Rebecca, we didn’t know if she was still coming or not. Thankfully she did! Yay! This means more helping hands on the farm and another awesome person to get to know.

And so we had a wonderful week together. We finally got some sunny weather and spent a lot of the week in the greenhouse potting up (placing seedlings in bigger trays/pots so that they can continue to grow) tomatoes and eggplants. I actually had to start wearing sunscreen because sun + greenhouse = farmer tan! We listened to CBC and got to know each other. It almost sounds relaxing really. But let’s not forget, we are now farmers, working on a farm. And we wouldn’t be real farmers without some physical labour! (sigh).

Remember when I told you about covering up the garlic in the field (that was planted before the winter). Well it’s not covered up anymore (but that’s another story) and weeds have begun to grow beside our lovely garlic, and so we had our first hoeing session. What fun! (Major sarcasm) Now I think once we get used to the work and each figure out our own way to hoe efficiently and comfortably it won’t be as bad. But boy did we all need a drink (and a massage) at the end of that day. Needless to say I brought some tiger balm back with me this week.

Just writing about hoeing has made me tired. So I think I will bring this post to an end. But I look very much forward to posting about the weeks to come. And I apologize for the lack of photos in my posts at the moment. I don’t have an iPhone and keep forgetting to bring my camera with me. But I promise to take photos this week and add them to the posts. I also hope to create a Resources page (with info on books and websites to check out) as well as a Recipe page.

Hope the weather stays nice this week. We would like to start transplanting what’s in the greenhouse and maybe even direct seed some more crops. Cross your fingers for us!

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