Friday, March 06, 2009

Spring is in the air (today)

We couldn't believe it was March 6th! The weather was incredible today, alternating between warm gusts of wind, sunny patches, and the occasional glimmer of a rain cloud. We even saw someone walk by wearing a tank top (ok, that was probably pushing the season just a little bit)...

So, with all our snow basically melted, the chickens were having a hey-day free ranging in our yard finding bits of grass and leftover garden greens, and climbing all over our compost bins. While Greg was fixing the screening on the hen house I spread out a clean pile of straw, of which we have plenty leftover from our house addition, and the hens were clucking away excitedly as they scratched for grains and the possibility of finding a few bugs. They make such loyal garden companions, and express such happy sounds, that it really is hard to be annoyed at them for constantly being underfoot! With no tree cover to the front yard at this time of year, it becomes very apparent that we have hens for any passerby who takes just a minute to slow down and peer through our wooden fence. I happened to look out the front porch window, and saw a couple with young son walking up our path and watching the hens. What a great opportunity to meet new neighbours, so I went out to say hello and found out they live a few blocks away. By now, we know of about 10 other households in K-W who have hens, and we hope to keep hearing of others who join the ranks of city chicken keepers - keeping hens builds community spirit, brings joy to many (anyone watching the silly hens during their constant antics can't help but smile), supports fresh extremely local food, etc etc... I'd love to get a duck and am working on Greg to get his support for this idea. Duck eggs are divine - we had one from our farmer friend Brenda last season, and ducks are not as hard on the garden as the chickens are.

All our basil, other herbs and early brassica seedlings have now sprouted. Even the stevia (at $5 for literally 5 seeds!) has come up. These few stevia plants will be prized possessions this year. I won't be forgetting to bring these precious plants in for the winter. Although I've been sprouting edible greens for us to eat all winter, the concept of sprouted seedlings that we are intending to grow into mature plants is a whole new satisfying level. We have wrapped a plastic sheet around our grow rack, and the heat is now around 25-30 C in there. It's like a mini sauna and we need to constantly keep up the watering so the tiny seedlings don't dry out. Last year we used an old plastic shower curtain, and it worked just as well. Will post photos shortly...

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