The greenhouse that Mike has been working on is up and going! Eventually we plan on installing some salvaged glass windows on it, but for expediency it's covered in plastic now. As it's so late in the spring we haven't installed a heater yet but that should be done by fall. It measures 12' x 16' so it's pretty spacious for our needs to start off veggies and flowers for our garden. Mike has also been working this week on adding some cold frames to the left side and some additional raised beds within our fenced in garden.
I've planted up about 15 trays of seeds this week. There are 3 flats of tomatoes alone and all are heirloom varieties of course! One lesson learned from last year is that many of the old heirloom tomato varieties grow interesting but very small fruit, and the yields per plant are lower. So this year I've seeded some old standby varieties including Brandywine (both red and black) and Mortgage Lifter in hopes of increasing our yields. I'm not quite sure where I'll be able to plant 150 tomatoes, but I'll face that challenge in a few weeks!
The chickens are so excited about the warmer weather and longer days that Spring brings! Thanks to the new coop Mike built last year with five 10' x 10' pens, I've been able to separate out some breeds to raise purebred babies. We've got the silkie girls Gracie, Spot and Star all sitting on a pile of eggs for about a week now, and Blossom just went broody yesterday. Blossom is a speckled bantam (small) cochin. I snuck a couple of other eggs under her including a serama and an egg collected from Phyllis, a frizzled cochin.
At the moment we've got about 80-90 chickens. We've got the "Rangers", which are the free range girls that provide the eggs we sell. These are a mixture of breeds with different egg characteristics; some, like the Leghorns and Red Comets, are just reliable producers that average an egg every day. Others produce eggs of different colors to make our egg cartons pretty and interesting. Then we've got the chickens set up in breeding groups to raise purebred babies to sell. They all have names and unique personalities. The rangers hang out with us in the yard and get involved in everything we're doing, and the breeding birds get a daily visit or two from me for banana snacks and cuddles. Chickens that enjoy being hugged and petted tend to raise babies with the same good nature, making the babies nice pets.
Since Mike fenced in the raised garden last year to keep the chickens out, they were especially excited when we let them in there this week to prepare the raised beds for us. They gleefully dug up all the soil, eating all the weeds and worms they could find and contributing some fertilizer while they were in there. Soon we'll be adding the compost that's been cooking all winter to the raised beds and some planting will begin!