Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Windy Acres 2012 Highlights - The Good, The Bad and the Wonderful

The Garden

The weather had a huge impact on the vegetable garden – and not in a good way. 2012 was the year for extremes – tons of rain and then drought – a very cool start to May (I vividly remember freezing at a baseball game) that moved to a 100-degree blazing hot summer. Probably one of the worst years when it comes to bounty from the garden. Yes, we had an abundance of cucumbers – but that was about it.  I canned plenty of jars of relish - and I don't even like the stuff.  The tomatoes were almost a complete bust – that’s two years in a row. We need to find some sort of fungicide that will help prevent blight. That will only help one issue - that won’t prevent the weather extremes that tormented tomatoes.

We did try something new this year.  We planted a fall crop of garlic and onions. I am eager to see how they fair through this bitter winter so far (over 14" of snow in one week).  Hopefully this will kick the spring off with a pungent bang!

The one thing I love about gardening is that next year, I can start all over again.  Clean slate - clean beds - renewed hope.  I forget the pain of the past and start each spring with a renewed vigor.

The Chickens

Egg production was less than desired – to put it mildly.  The entire year I feel I have been in a battle with the chickens. Each day’s walk to the coop has the background music from “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” playing in my head.  Will there be an egg?  Will there be feelings of elation or deflation?  We have had weeks and months where we’re lucky to get one egg every other day out of 9 hens.  The reduction started when the girls were molting.  Then we had one of the hottest summers on record.  Egg production almost stopped.  I lost one of the oldest hens due to the extreme heat.  The girls are very picky with their egg laying atmosphere.  They don’t like it too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy or too snowy.  You get the picture.  We had a short window where production picked back up to around 3 eggs per day. But that didn’t last very long.  Then winter snuck up on us.  As of this writing, I haven’t had an egg in about 6 days and the hens haven't left the coop in 6 days.

I am about at a point where I have to make a decision about these 9 birds.  I wanted chickens for eggs.  Not just pets.  Yes I have named them and am attached to them – but I still wanted chickens for a reason - to provide my family with the kind of eggs you can’t buy in a grocery store.  Physically, these hens should still have plenty of ova left by which they can create and lay eggs.  This group has been laying for just about two years.  I can’t believe that all 9 hens are done at the same time.  On the other hand, I can’t keep feeding non egg-producing hens.  I had already decided that we would get some new chicks in the spring (get a jump –start on the Easter supply at our local Tractor Supply with mail-order chicks).  Then it takes approximately 20 weeks before they start laying eggs.  At the earliest, it will be toward the end of July before we see eggs.

Friends and Family

We love it when people venture out to Windy Acres.  We had the pleasure of playing host this year with visits from my brother and his wife, my friend Pam and her family, and to Keith’s cousins from New York.

2012 also brought us Justin.  He came to live with us on Christmas Day 2011.  The year has been filled with school, basketball, baseball, and band.  We’ve had ups and downs but all in all a wonderful year getting to know each other and building a family.  The adoption was finalized on December 19, 2012 – one day before his 13th birthday.  A Christmas gift for which that we are so very thankful.

Here's to 2013 - new adventures, and more consistent updates from yours truly on all that is Windy Acres.  Happy New Year!

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