Other than some cold nights in January, winter decided to sleep in until March this year. We saw our only substantial snowfall here in Central Virginia – twice. I’m almost never one to complain about snow, and Alston finally got to use the sled Santa left him for Christmas, but it did feel a bit like Jack Frost showed up too late to the party. We were ready for spring.
We had one weekend of it. Seventy degrees, cool breeze, inability to decide if you do or do not need a jacket. It was lovely.
This week it’s been in the eighties – even hitting ninety-one degrees on Wednesday. I’m normally impervious to heat, but it was disorienting to be garbed in shorts and a tank top when nary a leaf was visible, as the farm was still dressed in its winter grays and browns. But all that changed last night, when we got our first thunderstorm of the season. All that water after so many days of warm sun and it looks like this place exploded in vibrant green.
Five Khaki Campbells and six Rouens, the former for laying and the later for eating. They hung out in our kitchen under a heat lamp while Ben set up the duck house.
In order to avoid reliving Chase a Duck, the game where every night, you guessed it, you chase the ducks until they go into their house where you can lock them up safely each evening, we are experimenting with turning the duck house into a temporary brooder for these ducklings. All eleven will hang out under heat lamps for the first four weeks, after which we’ll remove the Rouens who will live out their remaining two months in one of the chicken tractors in the pasture. The Khakis will stay locked up in the duck house for a second month until they are water ready (hatchery ducklings lack the oil on their feathers that would normally transfer from the mother while she sat on them those first few weeks), at which point we’ll open up the hatch and hope upon hope that they desperately want to return home each evening. Without all the chasing. In the dark.
And since we still have one Khaki and one Rouen left from the original order almost three years ago , happily swimming in the pond, maybe this batch won’t take five months to figure out that ducks are supposed to swim, also unlike the first batch. See, we’re learning. Assuming ducks understand the concept of mentoring. Hmmm.
Alston was quite smitten with the quacks. Can you blame him?
In other farm news, the garden also got the memo about it being April. The peas are up! They should be ready for picking just in time to debut as Marie’s first solid food come May.
In addition to the eight (eight! gosh I love peas) rows of peas, Ben has carrots, radishes, chard and arugula started in the pond garden. The guinea hens decided that some of the beds made for perfect dust baths, so Ben covered the apparently too appealing rows with old chicken wire and so far it is a success.
The first thing I expect will be ready for harvest is the arugula, at least that’s based on how everything looked this morning. Ah to no longer be eating store bought vegetables. To be so sick of greens I stare at the tomato plants so intently as to will them to ripen. That’s when I know we are in full spring fury here.
There is so much more to tell, but picture will have to wait for a morning with a bit more light. The green house is full of future food – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and so much more. The rented acre is partly planted in collards who will eventually accompany fried chicken at The Whiskey Jar. Not to mention all the amazing work Ben’s put into the orchard, but now I’m just teasing you. Exciting times here at Red Row Farm. Spring has sprung.