The usual garden view on Sunday morning. Everything still looks a bit drab, no change for now.
The day time temperatures continue, on average, to slowly increase. We have spent a good bit of time this past week in rough splitting firewood, poplar and black walnut, as we were given 4 pick up truck loads freshly cut.
Newly split and piled firewood near the house and woodshed.
This is almost all walnut. Carefully stacked so that wind, cats and kids cannot easily knock it down.
We have seeded a few more trays of vegetables but have held off seeding anything directly into the garden. Probably this past week would have been to cool for anything to germinate in the garden and there is the danger of an overnight freeze damaging newly sprouted plants. The first things to go directly into the garden will be peas and broad beans, favas. The overwintered onions are greening up and the rhubarb is showing.
It is a little difficult to discern here but this is Rhubarb just poking through and starting to show a bit of green. It will be a few weeks yet before we’ll have fresh stewed rhubarb and rhubarb pie.
The chickens and the ducks are laying more eggs now. The number of eggs being laid has nearly tripled since mid winter for the chickens and the ducks stopped laying altogether for a few weeks. Some of the chickens are very poor winter time egg layers and some lay none at all from about December through until now. We have several breeds of chickens, but only three are really excellent egg layers. All the others are either from good to poor. The excellent egg layers are the ISA and the Loehman, which look identical, both being reddish brown in colour with white under feathers, and the White Leghorn which is an all white, light breed of hen laying a large white egg. These three breeds of chicken have hens that are each capable of laying well over 300 eggs in a year. A poor egg layer will lay less than 100 eggs and a good layer will lay something like 250 eggs in a year. Under ideal conditions. The lay rate is affected by many factors including the protein level in the feed, they need at least 17 % digestible protein, the amount of food, plenty of water, access to outside, stress of various kinds including cold and heat, number of daylight hours, as well as the breeding. Certain breeds and certain lines within the breed are not good egg layers. The photos are of some of the heritage breeds of chickens that we keep. We have 6 or 8 hens of each of these breeds. They are kept for may reasons other than the ability to lay a lot of eggs, including temperament, size, colour patterns, egg colour, egg size, hardiness, duration of lay, as a meat bird, and just because they are fun. We are trying to breed a hen that can lay at a good rate for from 3 to 5 years. The first photo is of a selection of the eggs that we are getting. I try to make up each dozen eggs with varied colours.
This is a selection of the eggs that we are getting each day. The darkest brown ones are the Marans, the single white one is Leghorn and the blues, no greens here, are from Whiting True Blue or Ameracauna. The medium brown are the ISA or Loehman, there is a single small one, several of the heritage breeds are laying these small eggs and notice the pink egg down at the bottom outside between the two blue eggs. The speckled egg beside the pink one is probably a Barnevelder.
This is a Marans hen which is a layer of the darkest brown, sometimes almost chocolate coloured, eggs. They are large docile hardy birds but lay no eggs through the winter.
A silver laced Wyandotte hen, She lays an off white, or very light brown egg which tends to be medium or small in size.
A Buff Orpington hen. Lays a small to medium off white egg.
A Leghorn hen, an excellent layer of large white eggs and a long lived bird as well. That is a Barnevelder hen behind her.
A Whiting True Blue hen, a layer of large blue or blue/green eggs. Not a good winter layer.
A Welsumer hen, a layer of terra cotta coloured medium to large sized eggs. Not a winter layer either.
A Barnevelder hen. She lays a dark egg but not near as dark as the darkest Marans. Also not a winter layer.
A blue Cochin hen, a layer of light brown small to medium eggs and also not winter layer. a rather poor layer.