However, now that we've switched just one wee hour forward, I quite enjoy the sun shining over the evening repast.
We've had a couple of rather mild days, and there are a couple more in store for us. In fact, tomorrow night the forecasted low is 6 degrees! How wonderful! The trees and plants are starting to notice, too. Sap is flowing and sugar maples have been tapped, the elders have enormous buds waiting to burst open and tulips, daffodils and crocuses are starting to come up. The birds are singing and there is a certain energy permeating the landscape.
Aaaaand then there's mud! Oh the mud! Because we're sitting on an unfinished lump of mud, I shudder to think about the dogs running wild and free! Truman is convinced he can stay out of the dirt, and assures me only his wee feet will get muddy but I'm inclined not to believe him.
I drove a couple of posts into the ground this afternoon, as a bit of a test to see how difficult the job would be. It was not difficult at all! Laur and I have been tossing around landscaping ideas - this year's job will be fencing (both livestock and garden), stone stairways for the front and back of the house and planting a few trees for shade and fruit.
Oh, and I forgot the most important news! CHICKENS!!
Truman and I have spent more than a few hours standing like fools in the middle of the back "yard", hemming, hawing and gawking at prospective chicken coop sites. I think I've made my decision and will be going about the business of construction very soon. As for occupants, it turns out a neighbour is very enthusiastic about endangered breeds, quite knowledgeable about chickens in general and very generous with her time. We've been emailing back and forth and I think I've decided on our flock's composition.
Because her chicks are "straight run", we'll be getting 2 or 3 of each breed just to ensure we get a hen. Straight run means that the birds have not been sexed. It is conceivable that we'd end up with all males of a breed, but that's a chance we'll take. That just means the stew pot will be full come fall!
So, our flock will likely be made up of the following breeds:
1 or 2 Chanteclers - endangered Canadian breed. They are friendly, fluffy and produce 3 or 4 large light brown eggs/week. They are well suited to our winters, what with their soft feathers.
1 Ameracauna - another heritage breed known for friendliness and egg production. In fact, Ameracaunas are quite famous for their blue/green eggs.
2 Orpingtons - Fluffy, well suited to our winters and will lay 3-4 pinkish eggs/week.
1 Houdan or Hamburg producing medium sized white eggs
And maybe a couple Wyandottes, which lay 3-4 dark brown eggs/week.
We're shooting for a flock of approximately 6 hens, an assortment of egg colours, laying frequencies and duration. From what I understand many of the Heritage breeds will slow down a bit in the winter. Having a light on a timer to give them more "daylight" will trick their tiny brains into laying a bit longer. The light will also give them a bit of heat should there also be a cold snap.
And what about a rooster? I'm excited to have a Mr. around to marshall the ladies! This is what she said about the Silver Laced Wyandotte:
"I find that the Silver Laced Wyandotte is very beautiful and exceptionally well laid back. They will do the little rooster dance, or follow you behind to show his gals that he is chasing the big bad person away… but I have never had one touch me. They are very respectful. "
"A Blue Wheaten Ameraucana rooster is also quite striking and I find them to have sweet personalities. This boy is a bit of a mess as he’s in the rooster coop and they sometimes get into little scuffles. He’s not aggressive so often comes out the worse for wear, but he’s a real beauty though."
Despite his apparently teensy head (men, eh?) I really like the looks of this guy. He has a nice small comb (less to freeze in the winter) and some beautiful colouring. I like her description as well - a mellow guy who will keep his girls in line, but not try and spur your eyes out when gathering the daily clutch of eggs. A handsome fellow indeed! We've already been thinking of names - it will likely be something pretentious and French like Hercule, Percival. Or perhaps Mergatroyd. If you've got suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments!
As for the hens, we've been collecting "E" names forever! The list goes on, but here are some of my favourites:
Oh, and then there is the Guinea fowl and the meat birds... but those are topics for other days!
Until then, if you need me I'll be out making raised garden beds, finishing the wood shed and putting a coop together!
Oh happy day!