'Tis the season for gardening and it's that time of year when I start taking pictures of dirt with teeny tiny sprouts poking up out of the ground. The first of the sprouts have arrived. A mix of lettuces and spinach and kale have begun to stick their heads up and soon we will have more greens than we can eat. Last weekend Michael took his truck and filled the bed with a cubic yard of garden soil and then we took turns hauling dirt out to the new garden boxes. I planted all of the seeds, leaving space for tomato plants and herb plants that I'll buy next month. Next we'll be constructing a chicken wire fence around it to keep critters out. And by critters, I mean Josephine. She's decided that there's nothing more fun than digging and prancing around in the mud. She came in one day with mud so squished up between her toes that there was no other option but to dunk her in the tub. The threat of a bath does not seem to be a deterrent.
Which brings me to the rain. April showers indeed. Our backyard squishes and there have been more days of rain than days without. This has made it difficult for Michael to finish the chicken coop. He took Friday off so he could get it finished and ready for the girls and to get the yard mowed. When I got home from work he was ready to put the chickens in the coop so they could spend their first night in their new home. Matilda was the first to walk out the door and then fly down to the ground. Foghorn and Dorothy followed soon after, exploring their new home one at a time. Marguerite has gone only as far as the ramp. She's the most timid of the girls. Michael had to go out around eleven that night and coax her from her perch on the ramp to the warmth of the roosting box.
Saturday night Michael and I watched To Make a Farm, a documentary about five young people who have chosen to become small scale farmers. One young man was starting his farm from scratch, living basically out of a tent. He'd built himself a lean-too for his kitchen out of salvaged material. There was one young couple who had worked on an organic farm for a few years before venturing out to buy their own. Then there was a young woman who had thought she was going to be an environmentalist when she left college, but ended up a farmer. She has the help of her husband who also works from home as a computer animator. Each farm was different and none of them came from a family of farmers. Some people may scoff "Oh those silly hipsters.", but watching them work so hard and struggle to succeed, you can't help but respect them for their vision. The young environmentalist raised sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys as well as produce. One of her sheep delivered twins and there was a moment when the vet believed they may have a bacterial infection and would have to be put down. I cried with her as she stood at the fence watching her flock. Heck, I cried with her on slaughter day when it was time to load her pigs up.
Each one of these people talked about the romanticism associated with the idea of farming and each one them rolled their eyes at the idea of someone doing this for that very reason. What you see from this documentary is that farming is fucking hard work. It is constantly worrying about getting enough rain or getting too much rain. There is heartbreak when plants come down with blight and a whole crop has to be removed. There is even the strain of isolation. After watching the documentary, Michael and I both agreed that we were happy with the little urban farm we've got going.
It rained all day on Saturday, the first full day for the chickens to be out in their new home. They didn't poke their heads out the door until later that evening when the rain had finally stopped. We had yet to see them all out in their run doing the things that most chickens do. The sun didn't really come out on Sunday, but the sky lightened up enough for the girls to come out. We looked out the kitchen window and all four of them, even shy Marguerite, were out scratching around and pecking at the ground. We're constantly looking at each other with big stupid grins on our faces and saying "We've got chickens!" Then we just sit and watch them. They've become the best new TV show.
Even Josephine thinks so.