Spring’s Comin’

It’s been a world away since our last update, and we apologize, but we promise we have good things in store for the future.

Yahya Jr and Yahya Sr.

Yahya Jr.: Since our last big, all encompassing update, our beloved and favorite neighbor and friend Yahya Jr. was accepted into a charter school in Hershey Pennsylvania. We’ve missed seeing him around the neighborhood this past winter, and can’t wait for him to come back home to help out and to sell the crap out of our produce this summer. Hurry up and get home, Yah! The photo to the right was taken at his going away party in January. And yes I’m aware it’s April now, but we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Baby Serama chicks.

Babies: A whole new generation of chickens to care for, and we’re learning a lot about ourselves through the process. Well, actually, less about ourselves and more about how many chickens we can fit in our home. Fish tanks salvaged from the street corner dump are now comfy little homes after you put a heat lamp and some wood shavings on the bottom. Rubbermaid tubs, closets and the nook underneath the stairs also serve the same purpose. We’ve made impromptu feeders out of old cardboard coffee and oatmeal containers. And if you’re curious or needed an exact number on how many chickens there are, you’d probably think we’re, y’know, nuts.

Chirp! Chrip! Baby red sexlinks, silver laced wyandottes, and others.

The baby chickens are not all fuzzballs of cuteness. We have had a few deaths among the flock due to illness/disease, but I think we’re coming to terms with accepting this as part of chicken keeping. Smacks the romanticism right out of it.

Though it was never properly diagnosed and only assumed just by doing a Google search, we think some/one of our Easter egger babies came down with Marek’s disease. It’s contagious and easily spread amongst chickens through dander in the air. It causes them to lose control of their limbs and makes it difficult for them to breathe or do anything, really. There is no cure, but many chicks ordered from a hatchery are vaccinated before shipment. Our chicks skipped that step since they were hatched in South Philly.

Movin' on up. To the outide. Of the basement.

Which is why we moved them outside, out of their fishtank origins. As I write, most of the baby Delawares (white layers) and Wheaten Marans (dark dark brown layers) we got a few months back are now feathered out and enjoying the outdoor coop along with our older Sussex chickens. It’s kind of a puzzle trying to figure out how to maneuver and swap chickens and disturb the pecking order.

Christine and Rick taking a break on the farm, photo by Miss Roberta.

John Greiner finishing up the chicken run.

Progress: Since our last work party, we’ve managed to finish and complete our raised beds, move 4-6 yards of dirt and compost, complete the chicken run, put up a fence and door and a whole variety of other cosmetic improvements. We are lookin’ mighty snazzy, and all of it’s thanks to you guys! The photos at the end of this post will give you a better idea of what we’re lookin’ like now.

Kale, eggs and honey. Photos by Neal Santos.

Waiting for Spring: If there’s anything that you should know about me, it’s that I love to eat. And as soon as I finish eating, I think about what, when and where I’m going to eat next. It hits home when Andrew coincidentally repeats the same line my mom would always tell me as I had vacuumed an entire meal. “No one’s rushing you, Neal.” :-O

But this fleeting cold weather is making me anxious for the tastes of spring. As I write this, I’m enjoying a kale salad from the plants that survived the winter. Dressed with honey (from our top bar hive), lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. No need to steam or cook the kale, eat it raw as the acidity of the lemon should wilt the leaves tenderly.

The honey we collected was also something out of a dream. Andrew lifted out a frame from the top bar hive, the comb heavy and dripping with honey. I enjoyed it pretty much raw, but also with some greek yogurt and granola. Getting ready for work in the morning is usually a scramble. So quick breakfasts would consist of honey and yogurt. My drives would leave my car scattered with empty ball jars with traces of yogurt and honey. Don’t judge.

And after a day full of hectic meetings, work and what not, what’s not to love about eggs in purgatory for dinner? Google any recipe, you’ll generally end up with the same thing. It’s a quick dinner that’s easy to make, easy on the waist and easy on the budget. All you need is a jar of tomato sauce, some eggs, and maybe some onion/garlic and olive oil, and some crusty bread. Mmmm. You’re welcome.

Collards, kale and mustard green transplants.

Plants in the ground: This catches us up to April. We finally got our transplants from the lovely folks over at PHS. From seed, we’re starting some collards, arugula, purple and orange carrots, red and golden beats. And we’ve already put in the stuff you see in the photo above.

PHEW. That’s all for now. We’ll keep you posted on upcoming workdays and events right here, and also on our facebook page under “Farm 51”.

All this planting is getting us warm and excited. Spring’s definitely a comin’.

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