Life in the Slow Lane: 'A Few Warm Days'
A few warm afternoons and all of a sudden everything is thinking spring has arrived. Of course, "warm" is subjective in this case. Since New Year's Day morning chores have required me to walk out in temps below freezing. The sheep, Bear, the cars and the metal gates are all covered in frost. Before you worry about Bear and the sheep, they don't notice they're frost carriers. Indeed, Bear finds the warmth of the house uncomfortable this time of the year. The sheep would likely do the same, but I don't let them in.
By the time breakfast is over sunlight is finally hitting the house. It arrives well after dawn here because we're in a valley. As I watch the light spread out across the pastures and barns, I swear that everything alive breathes a sigh of relief and stands taller. Out of the brown remains of last year's grass, new bright green blades are pushing their way toward the sky and they violets are unfurling their leaves. I've tried warning them that this is just a warm snap, that winter is sure to return before much longer. They aren't listening to me.
Then the catalogs arrived last week. I got my Johnny's Seed catalog first and spent at least two hours pouring over the contents. There's a butternut squash variety that looks particularly good and my butternuts did so well last year. Ooh, there are delphinium and foxglove seeds! I love them. Hmm, I've always wanted one of those wonderfully overgrown English flower and herb gardens and I have just the place to put it. Yep, that's definitely happening this year.
The Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog arrived next, just after I'd ordered my first set of meat birds. I again chose their version of the Red Ranger. Those birds did fabulous on grass with some of the roosters pushing ten pounds! Not needing any birds, I browsed through the catalog, enjoying the amazing images of beautiful fowl. Then I turned a page and found the turkeys. My heart quirked. I've missed having a flock of turkey on the farm. But as long as Tom's alive I can't have any other toms near him as they'll kill him.
Then my gaze dropped to the bottom of the page, and there it was. The heritage Slate turkey that I've been dying to order.
Here's a picture and the description:
Blue Slate Turkeys are named for their ash blue coloring. Blue Slates — also called Blue or Lavender turkeys — can have a few black flecks on their feathering. Hens are lighter in coloring than toms. Like the Blue Andalusian, the blue gene can produce several colors: solid black, solid blue and blue flecked with black spots. Often Blue Slates are a combination of these colors.
The Blue Slate is a rare, Heritage breed fowl and a very old breed — recognized as a standard breed in the U.S. in 1874. These beautiful birds are medium-sized. Young toms will average 23 lbs., and young hens will average 14 lbs.
That's it! I'm building another chicken tractor and putting fifteen of those turkeys in it! If they're in the tractor, they can't reach Tom. It's a good thing I've got all that recycled wood in the barn. I set aside the catalog and quickly made a list of all the sizes of 2 x 4's I'll need for the frame. I'm almost positive I'll only have to buy a few 12 foot boards.
Tomorrow, I'll sort the wood and figure out what else I need. Then I'll design that garden and order seeds. I'll build it with beautiful dark earth I can harvest from one of my veggie gardens, and the compost heap from the chicken coop.
Oh geez! I'm as bad as the grass and the violets, unfurling in a brief spate of warmth as I dream a crazy dream of spring.
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