Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Moving to Restoration Farm

So the move to the farm went really well.  I had asked Frank, my gardener, for help and he said he had a trailer that he used for hauling around a bobcat that he thought would work well.  A few days before moving day I called him to confirm and when I didn't hear back right away I got a bit panicky and arranged for another friend, Artie, the guy who hauls horse manure to the farm, to do it but his truck was not as suitable and when Frank called we went back to plan A.  Frank arrived at 8am on thurs morning and I didn't let the girls out of the coop...they moved inside.  It was tricky getting the coop up on the trailer because of its side rails being narrower than the coop but once we figured out how to load the coop to the necessary height before it rolled forward onto the trailer bed it all worked.  Thank goodness for people who know how to figure things out on the fly.  I have so much respect for that.

Anyway, so we loaded up and were off to the farm.  The coop on the trailer was about 11'6" tall and just cleared the overpass for the Northern State Parkway.  That was lucky because both the routes I had worked out required an overpass.  When we got to the farm Frank brought the coop out into the field and backed it into the area where we had set up the portable fencing.  I am so lucky and amazed to find such nice people to help me.  He wouldn't even take gas money.  I am going to owe a lot of people a lot of eggs before this is all through. Frank is definitely on that list.

As usual it took the chicks the better part of that first day to get used to their new surroundings.  Mostly they stayed inside the coop.  One or two ventured out and poked around the area but then quickly returned to the safety of the coop.  But as I've said before, I have a new respect for the wariness of chickens...they know how dangerous the world is out there for them. 

By the end of their first day at the farm they were venturing around their yard which is about 30' x 50'.  Mostly they stay within a few feet of the coop unless I am sitting there with them and then they feel a little safer and explore a bit.  I moved a picnic bench into the area so I can comfortably sit with them. 

 At the end of the first day I went home to feed Thelma and Louise and told Dan, the farmer , that I would come back around sunset.  A few minutes after I got home Dan called to say he was worried about leaving the chicks alone at that hour...its when the farm is deserted and the predators come out.  In fact that afternoon I had seen a red fox in the asparagus field.  It was at the other corner of the farm but certainly not far and Dan got me pretty worried, so I quickly grabbed a crossword puzzle and a pencil and headed back to the farm at around 6:30.  Sunset right now is around 8pm.  I have always loved that hour at the farm and it really is no hardship to sit there and watch the chicks and the sunset.  I have been talking up the idea to lots of friends to join me and bring a bottle of wine.  It's really quite lovely.  And so I have done that every day since the move.  The first night there were two red tail hawks in a nearby tree and one made a few circles over the coop checking out the girls.  I spent the rest of that first evening checking the sky and didn't get very much of the crossword puzzle done.

The chicks are still scared easily.  Whenever a goose lets out a honk they all run for cover under the trailer.  Whenever a plane flies overhead they do the same.  I guess they are genetically programed to fear attack from the sky.  Thank goodness the coop is elevated.  I don't know what they'd do if they didn't have somewhere to run every few minutes.  The rest of the chick yard looks relatively lush and untouched but the area under the coop has been reduced to bare stalks...not a leaf survives.  When it gets hot later this summer the shade will also be a big asset.

This past weekend the farm had tours for all the new CSA members and the chicks were a highlight.  Lots of members are interested in helping with the girls, bringing them food scraps from their kitchens, and generally getting to know more about them.  They are looking beautiful in all their variety and the scene is very pastoral.  Dan is very happy, seeing a vision  he has for the farm starting to take shape.  They also like to eat mugwort, a weed that we have way too much of, and so my vision of seeing them as little farmworkers seems to be coming true as well.  Aside from the need to be at the farm early to let them out and again at sunset to see them safely indoors, they are not much work.  A little food and fresh water each day and some ground up granite to eat to aid in digestion.

Here's a photo of Ada, Dan and Caroline's daughter, visiting the chicks.
And a photo of the chicks using my bench
And some random cute chicken photos
Tonight we had a near disaster at the farm.  Everything is ok but the story will have to wait till next blog...I am spent.

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