Seasons at Procter Farm

  (London, Ohio)
Procter Farm
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Musical Chairs

baby chicks eating spinach

The new chicks, golden comet pullets, have moved into the winter housing in the corn crib. Here they are eating overwintered spinach from the greenhouse. They need to be kept separate from the adults until they are the same size or they'll get bullied too much. The two flocks will be combined in the fall when the adults move back into winter housing.

seasonal pasture set up

All the barred plymouth rock hens and rooster have moved out of winter housing and out onto pasture. They are so happy!

eggmobile

The new eggmobile, complete with 26 nest boxes. Its actually an old trailer. The wheels make it convenient to move.

hen using new nest box

A hen checking out the new nest box.

new eggmobile

An inside view of the eggmobile.

tomatoes

Can you believe its almost time to plant tomatoes?! This first planting will go out on the next dry day.

 
 

Spring Sprouts

 

2013 sproutSpring has definitely sprung here at the farm, (even if the Ohio weather doesn't agree!) In our greenhouse early spring sprouts have already begun to emerge from the cell trays. There are currently alliums (such as onions) and brassicas (such as cabbage) showing their cotolodyeons.

 

Also, last Thursday 50 little chicks arrived! Believe it or not, they arrived at the local post office from the hatchery via overnight shipping. The post office then just calls the number written on their box in order to notify the purchaser that their chicks have arrived. This is the second year that we have received chicks this way and it is still so funny/amazing to me! The chicks are all golden comet pulletts, from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries near Cincinnati, OH. This breed is known for its cold tolerance and is said to be good for farms where chickens are pasture-raised. Currently they are cheeping contentedly and growing rapidly under heat lamps in the shop. Come check them out next time you visit!

Additionally, the farm is blessed to have 2 wonderful new volunteers contributing to the farm this year. Molly Rosati and Sharon Mavis have generously agreed to share one of their weekday mornings helping with various tasks around the farm. Look for their volunteer profiles on the volunteer page of the Procter Center website! 

baby chicks

baby chicks

 
 

And the Season Begins...

Suddenly the weather feels like spring again – real spring, where it is cold and if you stand out of the wind in the sun you can glimpse summer in the distance. I have planted some spring peas and early carrots. The plants in the greenhouse are growing, especially the napa cabbage, which seems to really enjoy the temperature fluctuations that are occurring. I hope to have the heat going in there soon but regardless, even the leeks, scallions, and onions are snapping up their little string-like stalks with increasing rapidity from the soil.

As you will see by the photos below, the chicks are growing quickly. When I sneak up on them they are all sleeping with heads outstretched; their little bodies squeezed next to each other in arcs around the glow of the heat lamp. When they realize that I am there they immediately jump up, begin cheeping, and furiously eat. Adding human motivations to birds, I want to say they are showing off but in reality, I don’t really know why they feel the need for this frenzied activity, just because someone is present. Regardless, it sure is entertaining!

Though I mentioned that the greenhouse plastic had been put on a couple of weeks ago, what was not –but is now-  set up was the blower. This small electric-run device blows air between the 2 layers of the greenhouse and inflates them. This not only creates a warmer interior of the greenhouse, but keeps the 2 layers from whipping around and possibly tearing or catching on rough bolts. No matter how tight the plastic is stretched over the hoops there is always slack. The blower is just such an invaluable finishing touch for the plastic to have a longer life. (the typical lifetime of greenhouse plastic is 4 years)

 
 

The chicks have arrived!

The air was still cool and the ground shrouded in early morning dew when a piercing ring broke through the air, alerting me that 50 Barred Plymouth Rock chicks had arrived at the London Post Office. I had no idea that people were even at the post office so early! Though I had already set up the brooding area in anticipation of the chicks’ arrival, the food and water had yet to be set out and the lights turned on to adequately warm the area. I raced over to the corn crib to set these items up and then off to London to get the little creatures, fearful the whole time that they were going to just drop dead. Chicks are sure resilient animals though. After having been shipped in a little box without food or water the day after they were hatched they are currently scuttling around in their seriously warm brooding area, happily chirping and exploring.

Though it is hard to tell now, these fluffy little chicks are all pullets (female) and of the Barred Rock breed, which are known for their cold tolerance. I had considered getting Buff Orpington chicks but was warned that they were prone to broodiness (wanting to hatch the eggs they lay).

In addition to the excitement of the chicks arriving I have also witnessed the emergence of Procter Farm’s 1st seedling from the soil. This seedling is from the sunflowers that were started last Friday. The onion and scallion sprouts are following quickly.

Last but not least, Jim Gambill, the farmer who leases much of Procter’s farm land, has generously given his time and energy to preparing the fields where the farm will be this year. Just yesterday I saw his tractor toting the most intense disk I have ever seen. I am so grateful that he is willing to help me with these aspects of the farm, from laying fertilizer to this final step of disking the plow furrows. Without his help preparing for the coming growing season would have been much more difficult. Thanks Jim!

 
 
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