This month has been busy for me with a half week trip to Northern Virginia to help out with childcare during eldest grandson’s spring break and the little guy was on the tail end of a bad cold that lasted his entire break, so he didn’t have much energy to do things.  We did manage one trip into the D.C. museums, but he didn’t last long.
     A week in Florida with our daughter and her family to try to help her out a bit was delightful, though her son was also sick the entire week I was there and spent much of the week in his room.  He managed school for a day and a half, so daughter and I got some of things she wanted to get done accomplished, including throwing a successful surprise birthday party for her hubby.
     The month has brought two snows, one of 7 inches that lasted less than 24 hours, gratefully, and a week of mid 80’s temps to make us think it was summer and that we missed spring entirely.  This week is more typical of the mountain spring with night time temps in the low 30’s and daytime up into the 60’s.  With two more weeks before we reach our last average frost day, this is more normal.
     The week I was in Florida, the grass turned from winter dull to emerald green and the trees started leafing out.  It is exciting to see the brown mountain sides flushing with color again, even if it meant that I had to mow the grass around the house yesterday to reduce the tick load when I walk over to the chicken coop.  I can’t believe we are already finding those disgusting critters this early.  If the chickens were a bit bigger and I knew they would go back to their coop at night, I would turn them loose to feast.
     Speaking of chickens, they seem to be multiplying and they aren’t even old enough to lay eggs yet.  Hubby says I have an addiction.  I moved them last weekend to the coop where they have much more room and roosts to perch on.  Today I was going to start giving them outdoor time, but yesterday, I acquired 6 more Silver Laced Wyandottes, a heritage breed that are the same age as the ones I already have, so they need to be cooped for another day or two, though they may follow the rest of the flock back into the coop at night.

The black ones are the Wyandottes, the darkest reds are Rhode Island Reds, the lighter reds are the Red Rock crosses, the 2 smaller white one are unknowns and you can see one of the white dinosaurs right by the waterer, at least 3 times larger than the others.  They aren’t cute little chicks anymore.  In about 9 weeks the flock of 21 will be culled down to 6 to 8 hens for eggs and our eldest son will come to be the executioner and put the rest in the freezer for meat for his family and us.  It has been an interesting experience raising them so far.  I’ve learned not to try to raise them indoors, way too dusty and smelly.  To wait until mid April to get chicks so that the weather is warmer and the brooder can go in the garage, or even pen off part of the coop and put the heat lamp out there.  I don’t know if I will ever get to the point of having brooder hens to raise the chicks, it would certainly be easier.  I am still toying with whether to double fence my garden and let them loose between the fences; risk free ranging them with the number of hawks we have, I think that is asking for predator loss; or increasing the size of their pen and keeping them contained.  The only locals that I know that keep chickens,  two free range and one pens.  Surprisingly, few of our farmer neighbors raise them or for that matter, even keep one of their pastured beeves for meat for themselves.  They raise the beeves, send them to the stock auction, then go to the local grocery to buy their meat.