spring tonic

April 28. Spring tonic time for humans and chickens, courtesy of garden weeds. The raised beds drain well enough to tolerate weeding this week, so loads of cress, plantain, dock, and late brassicas go to the chicken yard. The yellow dock roots come in to be pared into thin slivers for tea. Miner’s lettuce makes elegant salads.

The first frogs have arrived in the gardens from their tadpole pools nearby, tiny and perfect, staring wide-eyed at the new world. The fenced gardens function as frog refuges all summer, off-limits to chickens and to the neighborhood wild turkeys and feral peacocks, all of whom love to eat little frogs. (More on the native  chorus frogs, if you haven’t read about them yet.)

3s a crowdBroody is the word in chicken world. The Shamo hen has month-old chicks; all day they forage under the protective cover of the manzanitas, moving together as a little unit among the larger flock. Starlight the blue Sumatra diligently guards a clutch of eggs, and Fiona the turkey is setting on an ever growing number of eggs, over two dozen at last count. Her nest is a popular laying spot for Edna, the other turkey hen, as well as for many chickens. Here’s a picture that’s a little hard to decipher. Fiona and Edna are both in the box, tails up and heads down, while one of the Ameraucana hens has settled in on top of them to lay her egg. Not an unusual sight around here.