When we first moved here, I planted a few bluebells. Well, some are pink and others are white, but they will always be bluebells in my mind. Some have moved from their original location as we’ve landscaped — it’s always fun to see where they will pop up each spring — but the ones in the picture have been undisturbed for five years are are starting to look very healthy. My dream is that that they will spread down the slope and make it look like the woods in England. I didn’t think that would happen until we went to Callaway Gardens yesterday and got to see bank after bank of them thriving in partial shade. There is hope after all! While there, we also decided to start planting native shrubs on our slopes and to add the miniature iris that grow along one of my favorite South Carolina hiking trails that I’d forgotten about. There’s no point in trying to recreate the garden of my childhood in the heat here, but at least there are some plants that are quite happy to revive memories. We need to make regular trips to Callaway Gardens for inspiration and encouragement. Hubby may even convince me to build a pond after all.
As for chickens….. we decided we want to add 3 – 4 more chickens to the flock as our current three can’t keep up with our breakfast consumption. For a couple of weeks, we’d call Tractor Supply to verify that they had chicks available, make the drive, and find empty cases when we got there. (Well, there were some Turken one time, but they look like miniature Turkey Vultures, and I don’t want them following me around the farm wondering when I’ll turn into road kill.) We grew tired of fruitless hour-long round trips and ordered ten chicks (the minimum) through Tractor Supply but shipped directly from the hatchery. The chicks are now three weeks old and growing faster than the ones we bought from the feed store last year. Even at two weeks old they were escaping the brooder tub we have them in — something the others didn’t do until the sixth week. I’d include a picture, but they move so quickly I haven’t been able to get one worth sharing yet. We may give a couple of the chicks away as 13 is probably more than we need, but we’ll get them old enough to move outdoors first.
In other farm news, we’ve caught our first swarm of the year and came through winter with 27 healthy hives. We’ve made a few splits already and it looks as if this year will be much better for bee and honey production. We had a late frost followed by a long, dry spell last year that reduced our honey harvest by over 50%. We already have a long list of customers wanting honey as soon as we have some, so we’re hoping spring continues to be our friend. The blackberries had just started to bloom when we got the frost last year, and they are looking much better this year. Our Dutch White Clover is also now well established and bloomed late fall and started blooming again a few weeks ago. All of that should help.
The chickens have been digging up Japanese Beetle larva and spend a good deal of time under the bee hives eating what I hope are small hive beetles. Keeping all thirteen would be worth it if they can reduce the pests around the hives and the garden, and I’m sure friends wouldn’t mind taking a few eggs off our hands now and then. I made the mistake of letting them into the vegetable beds to eat bugs over winter and then had to figure out how to keep them out once I started planting. It only took an hour for them to decimate the broccoli early winter and they were a little too excited to see the asparagus emerging a few weeks ago. So now it’s harder for me to get into my garden, but plants stay where I put them unless the cat decides to rearrange things.
Most of the lavender cuttings that I wrote about in January are putting on new growth, so that’s one more thing to celebrate. I am so looking forward to having a lavender hedge along the driveway.
Yes, life remains good on the farm. Today is the last day of spring break, and it’s going to be hard to head back indoors tomorrow. Thankfully we have a few hours of daylight in the evenings again so I’m sure I’ll be able to adjust.