Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The To-Do list

The spring chore list is gradually getting whittled away but its not getting any smaller because new chores keep getting added to the bottom of the page. Like this one.
The first load of next winters wood arrived today, yes the first load, theres more to come. This is my right hand man's chore. I once had a wet heavy chunk of maple land on my ankle, followed by a trip to the emergency room, followed by my hero announcing he would do all the wood piling henceforth, bless him.

Today the first of the potatoes went in, we should be having our first taste of tender new taters by late july. The cloth is covering rows of turnip and radish to protect the leaves from the voracious flea beetles. They also love broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower which they chew to resemble lace so they all need protection until they get bigger and tougher. I found this fine net type material cheap at a Fabricville sale last fall.
All the leafy stuff is in now, chard, spinach, onions, 5 kinds of lettuce, onions, and the garlic is up 6 inches.
In the corner of the photo is my other right hand man, Big Red. My Troy Bilt tiller I bought new in 1978, the only piece of machinery I have ever truly loved. He has some new parts mind you, (my favorite ever Christmas gift from Mr Hero was new tractor tires for Big Red)
We are off to the farm auction today in Sussex to scout out some laying hens and look at something besides a chore list.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ready for happy hens

Spring is galloping along here with crocus and coltsfoot appearing as patches of cheer, tulips getting ready to bloom, and the grass slowly turning green, much to the horses delight.

The portable chicken house is finished at last. It's made with no bottom in it, a 5'x8' footprint, so the happy chickens (which I dont have yet) can scratch about and eat grass and worms, bugs and clover. Two people can move it to a fresh patch without too much back work.

This end opens up for feed and water.

The other end opens up for egg gathering in the 3 nest box areas.

This door has a translucent window so the hens wont be traumatised if the foxes are trying to peek in at them. It lifts up so I can get at the trap door that can be bolted shut once they have gone up to the roost in the evening.

It's been a fun project using mostly recycled bits and pieces . In fact the only thing I bought new was the chicken wire. Saint John has a Re-Store, a wonderful warehouse where donated leftover building supplies are sold really cheap, as a fund raiser for Habitat for Humanity. They were a real treasure trove of lumber and hardware for my Habitat for Hens.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Maple syrup time

Our neighbor Jean Marc makes the BEST maple syrup and every spring we look forward to the party at his sugar shack. 50 t0 60 people turn up bringing pot luck goodies and enjoy a great feed with copious amounts of sweet syrup,.... eggs poached in maple syrup, ham baked in maple syrup, maple baked beans....mmmmmm.

When the sap has boiled to just the right consistancy, some is ladled onto a bed of snow where it hardens into the most delectable toffee.

It can be rolled up around a popsicle stick for a disolve in your mouth treat, or even better, dribbled on ice cream.

On the home front, I have been working on a movable chicken house for perhaps 4 birds. There will be no bottom in the structure so the happy hens can scratch and eat grass and clover, bugs and worms. This is one of those projects that evolves to use up scraps and leftover wood and plywood from other projects and is sort of made up as one goes along.

I seem to be going from one job to another, spring is such a busy time here. The raspberries and blackberries have been getting a thorough pruning and there's another construction job going on at our summertime shop at the local wharf.
The "carpenters" who built the place 5 years ago neglected to use pressure treated lumber so we tore out the rotting plywood floor last week and this week the black moldy rotten joists are coming out. What did they think would happen to wood sitting in wet gravel??

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rising Tide, St Martins

I've finished this acrylic painting of a pair of our harbor's lobster boats amid a rising tide of concerns about the whole east coast lobster industry. Prices for the catch are so depressed with the recession that many fishers feel it's hardly worth the cost of the diesel fuel to go out. According to the news hundreds of boat helpers wont be called up for the coming season, in order to cut costs. Processers still have huge inventories of frozen lobster from last season so a worthwhile price for the fishermen doesnt seem likely.

On a brighter note, this should be the week we say goodbye to the lingering snow patches, with lots of rain and mild temperatures in the forecast. My sunny studio windows are crowded with seeds I planted today. They'll move to the greenhouse when the nights arent so cold.

Seeds look so insignificant but by midsummer , how amazing to get SOOOO much good food out of almost nothing.
Getting on with seasonal chores, the plastic door and roof covering are back on the greenhouse. I go in and with the sun shining I can pretend it's summer.

The winter storms played havoc with the birdhouses, now they're safely screwed into place awaiting tenants. Song sparrows are everywhere today, what is sweeter than their springtime melodies?