I had an opportunity to say thank you to someone this weekend. She’s done a lot to steer us newbies in the right direction. And she has taken on a thankless task in our town, the kind that gets people mad if not done perfectly, has no compensation, and nobody else will step up to do their fair share. So I said thank you. Surprised, it seemed, that anyone noticed, she said, "Someone has to do it."
I didn’t think fast enough, but I wish I’d said, "but not well." She does this job well when she doesn’t have to do it at all, and we appreciate it. Or in the Utah vernacular “we ‘presheeate-chya.”
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
It’s a month past winter solstice and the chickens are laying again! We forgot to open the doors until late in the afternoon last Sunday. By then the temperatures were well above 80. We let the hens out of the hoop house to run around the yard even though there isn’t much to eat. Sunshine and fresh air has to be good for them, right? Maybe it was the impromptu sauna, or the extra dose of protein from some freezer-burned chicken meat R tossed them that morning, but Red laid an egg the next day. Never forget their intra-species cannibalistic dinosaur heritage – their favorite food is, of course, chicken. Another hen laid an egg yesterday and I got two today, so hopefully they are on a roll.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
I marked my calendar for April 21. That’s the day our 8 goslings should ship, if all goes well at the hatchery. These eggs haven’t even been laid yet, and they already cost me $150, including shipping. The window for ordering geese is narrow. They don’t lay for much more than a month, so if you don’t get them in the spring, you won’t get them until next year. I learned that the hard way. And the goslings sell out fast, so you need to reserve early.
Why geese? People say geese are mean. That seems to be the main argument against them. Mean geese could be a good thing or a bad thing. Mean to me, bad for the goose. Mean to someone trying to get into the orchard when I’m not around, that could be a good thing. Mostly we want geese because they eat pasture and they are entertaining. Spending time with geese mowing the pasture will be far more fun than running a gasoline powered motor. I told R we will call him Konrad if the geese imprint on him.
We are getting the American Buff breed, chosen from the Livestock Conservancy list of heritage breeds at risk of extinction. Maybe their "lovely apricot-fawn color"” won’t look so bad if they get into the red mud around the place. It was a coin toss between them and the Pilgrim goose, another American original breed, because they are both on the Slow Food "”ark of taste"” list. Unless one makes a foolish mistake in harming either of us, these birds will be spared a trip to the freezer. If we are lucky, they will pair up and raise their own broods next year, although as first time parents, you can’t expect them to hatch anything. We have to sort out a water source for them. Contrary to lore and legend, they don’t need a pond, just a bucket to get their heads wet. But they will be happier with water to splash in. Now I wish I hadn’t given away the kiddie pool I once bought to hold live crawfish overnight when we had a Mardi Gras party. That was back in 1995 or so. Probably a fresh one would be a good idea. Nothing but the best of Craiglist for our livestock.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
We are going to CiderCon2014! I am excited! Another exclamation point! I’ve never been to Chicago for one thing. We might go to a blues club. There will be a cider tasting. Not to mention the loads of actual useful information and contacts we will make.
If you had asked two years ago what the hardest part of living here would be, I never would have thought that it would be finding ranch-sitters. We (finally) found someone who will stay here for the week of CiderCon, but I realized that we just aren’t very good at networking on this topic. So if R or I actually know you in person and you want to be on the list for ranch-sitting vacation opportunities, send me an email. The minimum chores take about 10 minutes morning and night. Collect and eat eggs. No shoveling manure. Playing with goats optional, but highly entertaining. Slate is not dog-proofed, so sadly visiting canines are impossible. If it works out that you can get a bit of quiet work time, a retreat or use the place as a base for hiking adventures, that would be awesome for us too. Maybe we could actually take a summer vacation this year!
Yes, I live in a vacation mecca, but every once in a while I just need to feel the road under my wheels again.