Im sorry i cant say that spring has actually sprung, but rest assured that shes creeping steadily towards us. Buds are swelling and greening, the snow is melting fast, and every day i hear new birdsong from the trees. There have been some dazzling sunny days, and a couple of times we have taken a rug and blanket, lain it out on the snow, and dozed in the delicious warmth. Yesterday, we had our first rain of the year! (I had almost forgotten what it was, which is hard to believe seeing as i grew up in Devon, where it’s foolish to leave the house without a raincoat.) But alas, today it snowed again several inches. Forgive me for talking about the weather, its just hard not to when you live on a farm. I have finally sown all the seeds i need to for now: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, leeks, some herbs and LOTS of onions- hopefully we will grow enough for the whole year, which we calculated to be 700 plants…we are going to need all hands on deck for planting out!
A couple of weeks ago, we finally managed to get up the hill with the horse, to a place where we cut some fence posts in the autumn. Someone lent us some snow shoes for the horse, which he absolutely hates. It took us SO many tries to get them on him, with all of us just getting more and more frustrated -he was kicking and stamping and huffing and pushing, and succeeded in landing us on our backs, several times. But eventually we won and managed to get the damn things attached to his hooves! Then he huffed and stamped around a bit more. I would be pissed off too if someone tied me up and strapped giant iron rings to my feet. But when we got him moving, it was so wonderful to watch him walking in the snow, with no problems, after having seen him struggle so much and get stuck so many times. I think he secretly enjoyed it too. When we finally got the the top of the hill, we found ourselves asking, “where did we leave those fenceposts again…?” We knew roughy where they were, but as it was, that wasnt good enough: they were under 2 metres of snow. We dug for some time in one place, and found nothing. Then we went a little further up the road, to where we thought we left another pile. After digging a 3m cubed hole in the snow we gave up. And then a new question arose: “why, oh why, didnt we MARK IT????” Lesson learned.
We did manage to find some of them however.
Yesterday was første Påskedag, (easter sunday), and very aptly, also the day our chicks hatched! We hatched them in the incubator, as our broody hens arent very skilled mothers- they kept returning to a different nesting box. We incubated 26 of our own eggs and 28 eggs that we got from a nearby organic farm, which are a norwegian breed (jærhøns). In the morning the first signs of life started to appear, the first tiny cracks in the eggs, and some very loud chirping! After lunch three of them were fully hatched, and climbing all over their brothers and sisters. After that they came quite fast, as if spurred on by the success of the first. When they hatch they are such delicate and helpless little things, wet and ugly, but after a few hours they’re fluffy and raring to go. This morning there were 13, and today a few late ones- there is still one hatching now. Earlier we took most of them to meet their surrogate mother, who was just a little surprised to have been landed with 15 little ones! She was unsure at first, but we persuaded her to accept them- she couldnt say no after we gently pushed a few of them under her wings, and after a while she was in full mother mode. The two last chicks we foolishly helped out of their shells, and they turned out to be physically challenged, one with funny toes and the other with splayed legs. Alas they both died within a day of being with the others. Never help chicks out of the egg!
The stream is now a raging torrent, and many more birds are appearing. Wagtails, blackbirds, robins and thrushes and becoming regular visitors to the garden, where the snow is melting fast. Most of the snow has gone now, and green things are springing up everywhere. Spring has definately sprung! I have been exploring down on the field below the farm, where there are lots of beautiful places with mossy rocks, birch and grey alder and the sound of trickling water. Everyday i just love this place a little bit more.
Now we have a new batch of eggs from our own chickens. This time we tested them with a light on the 6th day. The ones with red veins are alive, and the ones that shine yellow are unfertilised. The ones with a circle but no veins are dead. We ended up with 12 out of 25. Apparently it’s good to remove the dead and unfertilised ones, as they release a gas that can hinder the living eggs. We also have rabbit babies now! Five surprisingly lively little black squirming things, all cozy in their nest made of mothers fur. I can’t wait until they start hopping about!
Everything is moving along alot faster now the snow is gone from most of the farmyard, i have been able to clear up most of the debris that was forgotten in the autumn, and we’ve just started stacking wood in the wood shed for next winter. My other half who refuses to be named, has made a new barn bridge, so now you can walk up to the hay loft without fear of death!
The days are long and usually bright, warm and dry. Life is good.