Thursday, January 15, 2009

Spring is Coming!

It is always fun to get little reminders that warmer, sunnier days are coming.

If any of you are interested in planting heirloom seeds this year, take a look at Seed Savers Exchange. They not only sell the seed, but give you the story of where it came from. Their seeds are pricier than most seed companies, but if you do things right, you will never have to buy seeds again!

I am looking forward to planting some Brandywine Tomatoes from Seed Savers this year. I also want to plant some pie pumpkins, since pumpkins grow so well in my garden and have volunteered for the past 2 years.

McMurray Hatchery is one of my favorite hatcheries! They hatch turkeys, chickens, peafowl, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants, guineas, They have lots of rare breeds unavailable at other hatcheries. Their chicks are healthy, and I rarely have a fatality.

Remember: The rule of thumb for chick prices from the hatchery is that the prices are going to gradually rise until Easter, and then gradually lessen thereon.

It will take about 12 weeks for chicks to feather out and be able to withstand normal temperatures (they need temps of about 90 degrees before they are fully feathered) and it takes about 22 weeks for the Golden Sex links / Red Stars to start laying eggs, and the others (with the exception of the White Leghorn) generally take longer. So as you are planning your spring, be sure and order them so that they are maturing in the time period that best follows your scheduling.

Also: You can plan your order with McMurray hatchery well in advance of when you actually want your chicks shipped; if you pay with a credit or debit card, they take the money out of your account when they ship the chicks. This is nice, because you will be assured to get the chicks of your choice. If you wait to order you might not be able to get the breeds that you are looking for because others have already bought them.

Some of my favorite birds for laying are: Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Black and Golden Sex-links (also called Black Stars and Red Stars by some hatcheries), Silver Laced Wyandottes, and Araucanas. (Black Stars/Black Sex Links are a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Rock; Red Stars/Golden Sex Links are a cross between a White Leghorn and a Rhode Island Red - with the Golden Sex Link/Red Star you get most of egg laying attributes of the White Leghorn without its skittishness. White Leghorns are known to be the best egg layer; that is why commercial egg laying facilities use leghorns.) All of these except the Araucana lay a brown egg; the Araucana is known as the Easter Egg Chicken, because it lays colorful pink, purple, green, or blue eggs. The Wyandotte's eggs are rounder than the other's eggs.

If you allow your chickens to free range (not live in a cage, like commercial egg laying chickens) your eggs' yolks will be yellower than store bought eggs. I believe the egg to be healthier and richer in vitamins.

If you want to have chicks running around all the time, get some bantam hens and a rooster.

Last year I had chicks on our backyard farm from from spring until fall!

I love Cochins too. They are funny looking chickens with feather on their legs; they look like they are wearing baggy pants! They are very mild chickens who love to set on their eggs and hatch out chicks. I like giving them to my kids as presents Easter time. Unfortunately, since they aren't at all aggressive, they are the first birds eaten by predators.

And while I'm reminiscing, do you remember these gardening days of mine?

Okay, maybe I am ready for spring, how about you? Have you gotten any seed catalogs, chick catalogs, or anything else that reminds you of warmer and sunnier days to come?

Ready or not, here it comes!


  1. Your post made me smile thinking of spring planting and going to the post office at the break of day to pick up my order from the wonderful McMurray Hatchery! First time visiting and fellow homeschooler/farmer, great blog, Kim

  2. Oh how I wish that we lived somewhere where we could have a garden! Apartment buildings just don't have that! But someday...someday. I'm excited for you and your spring planting!

  3. Kate the Great - What about planting in pots? There are some peas from Seed Savers called "Tom Thumb Peas" that can grow in a pot, so could tomatoes (my mom did that one last year right outside her apartment window). I've thought of growing herbs and lettuce on my windowsill. I haven't yet, but I'll have to let you know if it works!

  4. What a beautiful garden picture! I'm waiting for my Southern Exposure Seed catalog. That is my favorite to order from.

  5. Hey girl.....oh spring planting...I can't wait. It's so cold right now...23 degrees I can't even imagine spring!

    The bible study is over at my friend Beth's...she would love to have you as well!!

  6. When I saw your garden and chickens I knew I had to follow your blog. I love these thing. I have a small garden because my yard is so shaded. I wish I could have chickens, but not with this homeowners association. haha.