Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Day of February

Avery is napping and Noah is playing quietly with legos, so what better time to sit and write a bit (much more tempting than scrubbing my stove top which is in pieces and soaking in Dr. Bronners, baking soda and borax). Today is the last day of February. The sun is shining on me and all throughout the house. I just checked for eggs and noticed that for the first time since October, the sun is shining on the doe pen. Xanadu and Rose were both standing in the sun nibbling on spruce boughs. 

In other news, I have a dying chicken in the hallway. I noticed her this morning all crouched and sunken in to herself. She wouldn't drink water and barely opened up her eyes. I know enough by now that she probably isn't going to make it. But she is one of our three Welsummer hens, and you know how much I love those hens and their beautiful eggs. I told Dustin I was bringing her in and he reminded me of my last attempt to bring a chicken in, (she convulsed and made quite a noisy, stinky, messy and disturbing departure). I pointed out that I did remember and had learned a lesson, this time I had put the sick bird in a disposable cardboard box with hay, instead of a large storage tupperware that would have to be cleaned out afterwards. I was hoping that I could get some water and herbs into her and she might make it. I added a drop of echinacea root tincture, a drop of grapefruit seed extract, a crushed clove of garlic and a large pinch of ground herbs (fennel, wormwood, garlic and black walnut) along with a little molasses to her water). Dipped her beak and she wouldn't drink ( I probably wouldn't either). So then I pried her mouth open and got part of a dropper full down her throat. I'll try again in another hour and continue over the course of the day. 

We have had two injured chickens this winter but they were perky. So for days I carried them to the waterer and they would drink, then I'd put them in a low box out of the way with a handful of food. They both are up and moving around now. Whenever I've seen a hen this unresponsive, they've always died, and fast too, probably by the end of the day. I hadn't noticed any suspicious behavior yesterday morning, and D had done night chores and not noticed anything. 

Noah and I started our first tray of seeds for the spring. I know it isn't time yet, for us Alaskans anyway. I do this every winter to hold me over, I start a few lettuce greens and herbs with the intention of transplanting them into a few pots and placing them in a window. This way I'll have little snippets of chives, basil, parsley, cilantro and greens here and there throughout the spring. It will be time to start tomatoes and peppers in a couple weeks. I did start some slow growing and germinating herbs (lavender, oregano and chamomile). If they get too big I'll transplant them before they make it to the garden. 

I have seeds on order from Peaceful Valley and thanks to a comment from another blogger, Fedco. I had never heard of Fedco before, but after checking them out, I am very excited about their prices and ethics. All I have yet to order are a few odds and ends, mostly onion, leek and shallot sets. I managed to stay away from most impractical temptations like melons, specialty peppers and most late season varieties. I allowed myself to go a little crazy on beet, turnip and rutabaga varieties, because they do so well here.When I told Dustin I bought several types of turnip and rutabaga seeds, he said as long as I wasn't feeding them to him... we are not big fans so it may seem silly to be growing them. One of the blogs I regularly read has been posting on feeding root vegetables to livestock, a practice that use to be common, but has since been replaced with high amounts of grain. I thought that I'd experiment a bit with adding a small amount of root vegetables to the goats and chickens diet and go from there. I already have quite a collection of early tomato, squash, pea, bean, kale, broccoli and green seeds. But I did find some new, or I should say old perennial greens that I had never heard of before that I had to check out. I also bought edible edamame for the first time, as we love it as a snack and I thought I'd make some space for it. I was excited to find an Alfalfa hardy down to zone one! As far as I know, no one grows Alfalfa up here because it doesn't survive the winters, so we'll be trying this hardy variety. 

My grainmill is somewhere in transit, on it's way here. I've used up all my old stale wheat, rye and spelt flours in anticipation...

I'm working on our second Azure Standard order, which contains more fun groceries than our first mostly bulk grain order. I'm ordering some beans and legumes for sprouting and grinding along with some specialty sea salts, and sugars (rapadura and maple), and lots of odds and ends I either can't find locally, or are cheaper in price and higher in quality.

I've been thinking of what defines spring here in interior Alaska. We don't tend to pay much attention to the official first day of spring, first day of summer etc. Spring is not green shoots of grass, mud, and especially not daffodils blooming (at least outdoors). Once we have mud and grass, well that's practically summer or the week before summer. Spring is the sun rising higher in the sky and shining with an intensity that warms my skin and lights the room, revealing the layer of dust that has been hiding in the dim rooms all winter. Spring is setting up plant racks, hanging lights and planting seeds indoors, the first touch and smells of soil - indoors. Spring is weather warm enough we can get out and play in the snow. Late spring brings goat babies and chicks. By then the seed starting rack is overflowing onto the floor and nearby level surfaces. By then we are too busy to debate, is it still spring or do locals sporting shorts and buying starts in a frenzy constitute the beginning of an arctic summer?

We've got about six weeks until kidding season begins and ducklings arrive. I'm looking forward to a few more cold weeks where I am more than happy to be around a wood-stove, baking bread, making soup and doing all those indoor projects (scrubbing and dusting) that won't get done till the slow days of next winter, or is it spring? 

Now I'm off to feed a hungry awake Avery, scrub my stove, make a smoothie for Noah and I, bake banana bread, force some liquid down my sick chicken and prep a whole thawed chicken for dinner. All the while enjoying the sun streaming into my dusty but well lit house, ah. 


dinkleberries said...

Wow, you really know how to use herbal remedies, and it's good to see she is improving. One more thing you might do for that hen is put some cayenne pepper in her water. That will likely do in any bug that is chomping on her, I've used garlic to stop coccidia. I hope she continues to improve. Does she have a source of calcium/magnesium? That will bring up her ph and help her body fight infection and disease. Great job, I love it when I can bring a chicken back from the brink.

Emily said...

Well, I'm not so sure I can take credit for her improvement. I'm pretty skeptical as to if she is going to make it. I think bringing her in and warming her up, forcing her to take some beneficial herbs with some water has brought her back a bit. I don't think it is coccidia like I thought at first, she probably would have gone ahead and died. I am thinking of bringing her back in, I need to do some more sleuthing....