Spring is just around the corner. I am hearing about and noticing signs of a new beginning. Reports of robin sightings are more frequent now. I met up with two "early birds" the other day; they were honing their beaks on the frozen, partially snow covered ground. No worms to report.
Lady beetles are getting antsy and every time the sun shines on the little blue house at the end the road, regardless of temperatures; elder beetles slip from beneath their covers, come together and bath in the warmth.
I have decided to order standard baby chicks, direct, from Mt. Healthy Hatchery this year. I plan to incubate fertile eggs of some heavy breeds of chickens and other fowl as well. A few of this and that will suffice this time around.
Last year a feed supplier offered twenty-five free straight run chicks with the purchase of a bag of starter. I took them up on the deal.
The unsexed chicks were all cockerels. There wasn't a pullet in the bunch.
I attest; they all survived and grew into beautiful mature birds, but early on, when I suggested, jokingly, that they might work on Guinness book status; those tall leggy red faced boys in the hen house, soon, made it known that they weren't equipped to provide us with eggs.
They killed the idea and at the right time, I killed them. Good eats!
Some say, why fool with it? Starter/grower is expensive feed; the use of brooders and incubators run up the electric bill.
I don't think like that young mom of a brood of fourteen kids that put eight eggs in an already overly used basket and then ask for help carrying the load through the birthing cycle and beyond. I will not ask for help or over-populate the backyard. Free range is not my thing either.
Oh, I know my chicks won't have a fancy house. Instead, they will be setup in a neat one- room shed that my father used to house the hatchery arm of his feed/livestock and poultry business.
Ample amounts of feed, fresh water, adequate warmth and shelter and a clean environment will keep my birds healthy and happy.
The new kids on the block will feel like royalty and, as for me; I will feel like a new mother.
The brooder-house sat idle a few years after Dad died. Several years ago, I decided to buy some new commercial hatchery equipment from a supply house in Georgia.
The incubator underwent a workout. Not only, did I hatch chicks; ducks, guinea and geese galore; other birds popped from their shells and found a temporary home in the five-stack brooder, as well.
After four seasons of too much work and a decline of interest, a fellow in Gosport bought the equipment for use in his thriving quail business. I sold my flock of old hens and lived to regret that.
Thanks to the generous friend that gifted me with a very nice small incubator, with an automatic turning feature, with luck; fresh large brown, white, and green eggs will meet up with my wicker basket, in the fall.
I miss the "pitter patter" of little gosling feet and gaggle of large bodied geese that I once owned and enjoyed. They helped me mow the green pasture and added life and beauty to the homestead.
My dad brought his first pair of Chinese geese down the road to the place the year I was born, in September of 1939. Through the years thereafter many geese enjoyed the good life, fed conversation, and nipped at the hands that fed them. One sizable pure bred could have used guidance from a "goose whisperer!"
He bit the flesh and brought about blood and bruising. Once, he held me hostage in the stinky old toilet. When something got his attention and he turned around; I escaped. Then he caught up with that action. His strong wings almost wiped me out. I have the scars to prove it.
Another was a handsome gray gander that lost his mate to a stray bullet. Dad took heart and trained the friendly gander to do simple tricks and chores to earn his keep, just because. He stood on a lime pile nearby the old trailer and kept watch over his domain. When a vehicle came down the road that smart gray guard would honk, loudly. He kept the beagles and free- range chickens in line.
Growing up, we children had favorites that we knew by name. We felt a sense of sadness come the holiday seasons. The ax knew no favorites. Dad marketed his fowl, a profitable home business for our family in the day. My father loved to raise many animals and an assortment of fine fuzzy and fully feathered fowl, but; the king of animal husbandry wasn't in love with them. The dollar won out in most cases. If the poultry were not sold on foot, a fire was started beneath the large iron kettle with the use of scrape wood, newspaper and a splash of kerosene. Water was brought to the scalding point; the killer and pickers took their places. Oh brother, we worked!
Hugh Lynch could win over customers with a generous smile and sales savvy. Dad was self- taught and shared his wealth of knowledge, freely. So, still armed with a fraction of his expertise handed down to me; a renewed desire to add more to the simple pleasures of my life has surfaced. Before this sentimental old country girl's goose is cooked, completely; I plan to expand again. It's in the blood.
Now, in the days ahead, I must map out the layout of the garden. I believe that, if a person, my age, younger or beyond always have something to look forward to and work to do; he or she will never feel old, useless or overcome by boredom or self pity.
I can be reached at 446-4852 or drop me a line to 613 North Elm St., Brazil, IN., 47834 or by email at email@example.com.