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This is our first solo weekend with the grandkids that are living with us now.  During the week, one of them is in school so we still outnumber the other one.  Our Saturday morning tradition, even most winter Saturday’s is to go into the town and have breakfast at one of the local restaurants then walk over to the Farmers’ Market to support the farmer’s that brave the cold with their meats, breads, and cold storage vegetables.  As we are only two weeks from the full season return of the market, there are still only a few stalls, but more today than in the past weeks, including a new addition to the market with heritage pork.  Turns out we know that farmer, so we supported her with a purchase of the thickest pork chops I have ever seen.  I hope I don’t overcook them.  They are thawing for a meal in a couple of days.

We took the back way home and let the kids see all of the brand new calves in the fields around our farm.  This brought us back to speculating about how many we could raise, how much it would cost us to have our field hayed when we kept the hay instead of giving it to the farmer for his work and whether we could make a small profit by raising a small herd for our own meat and to sell maybe 4 or 5 head each year.

Once back home, some chicken chores to add straw to the coop and hay to the extremely muddy run were done while the kids play outside in the sunshine.  I want to let the chickens free range, but we just planted some seed in the garden and it is only fenced with two strands of electric which doesn’t even slow the chooks down.  I don’t need them digging up my freshly dug, weeded, and seeded beds, or the newly transplanted raspberries, so they will have to remain penned until daughter returns.  We will then expand the garden and string plastic poultry fence around the vegetables and let the girls wander again.   Or perhaps we can just make poultry netting tunnels over the beds and let the chickens keep the weeds and bugs at bay between the beds. The egg production is up, having gotten 18 eggs in the past two days from the dozen hens.  I am hoping that one of the girls gets to feeling broody soon, and I will let her sit a clutch of about 8 eggs to hatch.  This will be our first year allowing this and hoping that we will be able to cull some of the older hens and the cockrells that hatch for the freezer instead of raising purchased meat chicks.  If this doesn’t happen, I will buy meat chicks later in the summer and raise them until the fall for the freezer.  Freedom Rangers or Rainbow Rangers only take about 11 weeks to freezer size and that is what we raised last year and found them to be an excellent table bird.

The seeds we started indoors are beginning to sprout.  The flat is on a heat mat in a south facing doorway with a grow lamp.  The Roma and Purple Cherokee tomatoes, and the Tomatillos are showing.  So far the 6 kinds of hot peppers are still buried, but we hope to see them sprout soon too.  Four of the varieties of peppers there are only a couple of plants and they are experimental for us heritage varieties.  The others are of many pots of Jalapenos and several Habenos for salsa and chili tomatoes to be canned this summer.

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Tomorrow is supposed to be another beautiful day, so perhaps we will take the kids for a walk on the Huckleberry Trail or a hike in the woods if it has dried enough.

Next Saturday we will all drive to Northern Virginia and pick up the eldest grandson for a week too.  We will have a house full of younguns to keep us young or run us ragged.

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