Fall Feelings and Where We Are Now 9/22/20

It's Finally Feeling Like Fall

September 22, 2020

It’s beginning to feel like Fall.

A few nights back, Zachary told me that it was going to be a cold one, getting down to 37 degrees overnight. For life on the plateau, it’s not too unusual to be colder than the surrounding towns or Buffalo, but this seemed unusually cold for the season. And it was. Zach went out to check the birds that first night of three and made sure that the heat lamps were on the smaller birds and that the larger birds were all inside where not only would they be safe, but also cozy sleeping up against their flock mates. We are pleased to report that everyone made it through the cold snap. I was worried about the little 5-week olds that we’d just moved onto the pasture the week before, but being fully feathered, I shouldn’t have been worried. I don’t have enough faith in the hardiness of chickens, I guess! I’m pretty sure that it’s a residual effect of having worked with commercial meat and egg lines (which need the upmost attention and careful management) for so long. But I digress… 

That morning, we saw patchy frost on the grass in spots, but the garden didn’t look worse for the wear. However, today, the damage really started to show. Most everything has been nipped if not killed by the frost, which is a darn shame considering this week is supposed to be up in the 70s. Things could have grown more! Ah well. Now we know for next growing season to expect frosts before the end of September. The tomato plants still have a good amount of life and green tomatoes on them, meaning we should have quite a bit of sauce yet to put up this year.

As the nights are getting colder and longer, I realize that winter is just around the corner, and I begin to think back on all we’ve done up to this point to get our farm off the ground. It all started with ripping apart and cleaning out an old mini house that we were going to turn into a chicken coop before realizing that termites had done a number on it. Wanting the birds closer to the house anyway, at least during the brooding period, we built a brooding coop that would hold 150 birds from the ground up. Then, we planted an orchard, blueberry, and strawberry patch. Following that, we worked on getting the garden in, cutting down the overgrowth in the field, and started to rotate our first flock of birds, home flock through the orchard. Along the way, we’ve had some bumps, like predator issues, deer pressure, drowned trees, and flat mower tires, but these were learning experiences to help prepare us for a more fruitful 2021.

As we worked through this first season, the plan for the farm began to take shape. We’ll focus our efforts on heritage poultry, fruit, and honey for now, with the primary focus being on the fastest evolving part of the farm: the poultry. We’re now 4 mobile coops into building this venture, with the intention of housing breeds that we love for their temperament, feather colors, and egg characteristics. More and more, I find myself sitting here on slow, dark nights like tonight, brainstorming breeds that we want to focus on and which characteristics we want to focus our breeding program on.  Zach jokes with me that I obsess about poultry, but I’ll take that as a truth and a compliment. As long as we have a vision and long-term goals for the farm, we are moving forward. And that is something that ignites a fire within. Farming and poultry are near and dear to my heart, and I’m over-the-moon excited to see what next year holds for us.

Wow, this is what I get for writing in a stream of consciousness. Hope you all were able to follow that and I look forward to more regular installments on “Life in the Coop” (: