Exciting news from Spring Creek Farm! Well…at least exciting for my learners, other folks on the farm and me. The eggs hatched! We now have ten adorable chicks. Five hatched from the first clutch and five from the second. They were here just in time for Easter, and I have to say…I’m in love.
Is this where Cadbury Mini Eggs™ come from?
It’s rather embarrassing to admit, but I’ve never watched any being come into the world for the first time. It is beautiful and transformative. You may be thinking, “It’s just a hatching chick! Old news to me, sister!” However, witnessing these little chicks work so hard to hatch out of their warm, safe eggs and into the world was incredible. I felt…well, I think I felt a little bit like a father must feel when his child is born. I wanted to call my friends and proclaim, “We have another one! It’s black with a white spot on its head! Oh another one is coming! Go little guy! Go!”
Lucy (she’s a ginger) and Zorra (she has a ‘Z’ on her head).
My boyfriend filmed the eggs hatching, and listening to myself in the video is strange in many ways. For one, it’s always weird to hear your own voice; secondly, the words that are coming out of my mouth are not mine! They are words that can only come from a person in awe of new life and full of new found love. I’ve heard countless times that the love a parent feels after the birth of her first child is indescribable and unmatchable. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like after this experience.
The process! Thank you Evan for the photo!
So there it is. I LOVE my chicks! I’m not afraid to say it. And, while I do love them, I also look at them and think about how potentially delicious they might be. We want the chickens for their eggs, but we need to be prepared to slaughter a couple if there are too many roosters. After feather sexing them (I think they can be feather sexed), only one is a rooster out of the ten. However, it’s my first time sexing birds, so if I’m wrong, I need to be realistic. If raising livestock is one of my future goals, I think starting with chickens is a great first step.
Elbie and her new piglets at Sun Circle Farm.
Aside from the amazing cuteness of the chicks, spring has brought with it many encounters with animals old and new! One of the many perks that comes with living in farm country, yet not being a farmer, is house and farm sitting. The other weekend I farm sat one of my favorite farms: Sun Circle Farm, a CSA run by my professor’s wife. Farms in Alaska are generally small—according to the USDA the majority of Alaskan farms are under one hundred acres—and this gem of a farm is located a few miles from here on six acres of fertile Mat-Su valley land.
This is Maybe, he is a gentle giant who happens to look GREAT in hay.
There is something about working on their farm that soothes my soul. I’ve farm sat at Sun Circle a few times, and every time, a little bit more of the “I think” in my “I think I want to be a farmer” is chipped away. I know it is incredibly hard work, and just doing it a few days at a time is nothing like doing it day in and day out. However, the stresses associated with what has become a “normal” consumer driven life shed away a bit when one tends animals. There still are stressors, but they are more real, in a sense. The stress of fitting all of whatever into my days that never have enough time, seem so menial when milking a cow and paying close attention for signs of mastitis. My intake of dairy products for the next few days relied on making sure that this cow is comfortable and healthy; and that stress is much more appealing than the stress of remembering half way home that I forgot to pick up the milk only to go to the grocery store to fret over reading milk labels and negotiating with myself about price vs. organic vs. local (going to the grocery store with me is not fun—I’m a label reader and choice flip-flopper. It can literally take me fifteen minutes to choose just the right crackers).
This is Sasha, the happy milking cow.
The abbreviated daily schedule of working on their farm (at least in the winter) goes something like this: wake up, fetch A LOT of water and milking supplies, and haul it out to the animals; feed the cattle (one beautiful Scottish Highland named Maybe and a good tempered Jersey/Dexter milking cow named Sasha), donkey (a cutie named Eddie) and horse (a big, gorgeous Clydesdale named Duke); feed the pigs (two sows named Willie and Rosita as well as a mama sow named Elbie and her fourteen piglets); feed the chickens and ducks and check for eggs; and milk Sasha. The animals are all either fed or checked on in the afternoon and the evening, with a second milking of Sasha in the evening. Some dog walking, chick checking, and boar semen turning (Rosita was ready to go into heat!) is mixed in with these chores.
I think Duke knows that I am super allergic to him…
As a novice Farmgirl, it takes me about an hour and a half to do the morning rotation—and I love every minute of it. It is especially pleasant now, with spring in the air, sunlight framing the animals so perfectly and the snow melting from the fields. I don’t know if the pleasure I feel even in mucking the horse/donkey/cattle barn is from contributing to the comfort of the animals, spending time in the late morning sunshine, procrastinating (grad. school is a lot of work), or a combination of these; but I do know that working on this farm leaves me feeling fulfilled, connected and awake in ways that sitting at a desk never could.
Eddie loves love!
Sun Circle Farm is my inspiration, it’s the closest place I’ve ever seen to what my “dream” farm would look and feel like.
Willie (left) and Rosita are hungry girls!
To top off all of this animal fun, one of the Louise’s Farm School parents brought a special surprise for us to see on Monday—six puppies and two new born lambs! If it were easy to steal lambs, I’d be cuddling with one as I write this. Spring is definitely in the air in Alaska!
My co-worker and classmate, Miss Bethany, holding one of the hours-old lambs!
For now, I have trays of seed starts, ten cute chicks, and ambitious yet attainable dreams for the future. I’m happy with the baby steps I’m taking, and I’m so thankful for the feedback and support from you, my fellow Farmgirls!
Wishing a Happy April to you all!
Peace and love, Alex
So much going on! Thank you for sharing!
I’m right there with you in the ‘thrilled’ department. I’ve hatched out hundreds of chicks and to this day, each and every one is just as fun to watch as the very first one. I think that is the magic of living close to the land and animals. The wonder of it all never fades (for many of us anyway!)
I LOVED all the photos and that lamb is sooo cute. It was fun to read your post because I got a dose of 2nd hand enthusiasm — which at the end of this day felt good.
I told myself that this spring, I really don’t need chicks this year. I knew when I said it that the odds of sticking to that statement were kinda iffy. Guess where I’m headed in the morning :o) … to pick up half a dozen day old pullets!
Thanks for another fun post!
Happy Spring Alex! I so loved this post… I can smell the hay and Duke and feel the soft fuzz of your baby chicks too!
You are right, something about being around " the farm " IS soothing, comforting and just feels right. I hope for your very own farm one day! Sounds like you will be right at home there!
thanks for a wonderful post!
Deb ( your beach blogging sister )
Happy Spring to you all from Appomattox, Virginia. My neighbor who i recently became friends with has a mini farm…some goats, sheeps, chickens, ginnie hens and geese. Recently he has been hounded by a fox who got 5 chickens. He is new to farming and he has educated himself very well and does an amazing job, but this fox has to go…any ideas?
I Loved this article. I am also a huge animal lover but not to the scale of your farm. I just love all of them, but the photo that I thought was adorable was Maybe! Soooooo darn cute! I just want to pet him. I think the next step is to write a book with lots of photos telling us about what it like having a farm. I could picture myself on a porch, in a rocking chair, with a cup of coffee or Green Tea, smelling the hay, and reading a book like this! Think about it!
HAPPY SPRING TO ALL OF YOU!
Alex- I really enjoyed this post. Your chicks are adorable. Love the pictures of the farm animals that you took care of. If I had a fabulous looking animal like Maybe I would try to turn him into a house pet! Love ya, Mom
Loved this article and so fun to see the photos. "Birthing" is one of the few things that is missed by my husband after we quit dairy farming in 2001. The thrill never goes away. Pulling calves…even calf mouth to mouth…getting the little bugger to drink out of the bucket when we needed to start milking mama. Nurturing that new life…so cool. Another memory of much younger days as you speak of eating the chickens…scalded feather smell to pluck them. Have had several conversations with people about this recently. A smell never forgotten. Blessings, Gail
Loved this post! I totally cracked up about spending 15 minutes trying to figure out which crackers to buy! So true…sounds like me! I think having everything at the farm would make my head less stressed out. I don’t like grocery shopping either these days. Too much stress! Being outside with God’s creation is so much better! I’m dreaming of our farmfresh eggs from our new chicks (have to wait till September for the egg part) and cheering on my seed starts! Enjoy your adventures!!!
I just wanted to drop a quick line to let you know that I love your voice and writing style. You have very quickly become my favorite farmgirl blog (no offense to any of marjanes other fabulous farmgirl blogs meant). Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing your unique perspective.
I just finished reading your latest post and I have to say you absolutely touched my heart with your writing, photograhs, the simplicity and thoughtfulness of all your words. I am so happy that I found your blog through Mary Janes Farm world!! I have many of the same thoughts and feelings that you share with farm life. I have three boys and we own a log cabin in Montana on about 23 acres. We can only go there on vacation, since we still live in Los Angeles. My husband and I are in law enforcement and cannot wait until we finally can call Montana our permanent home. Soon:)Please keep the writing and beautiful stories coming. I will be sure to read every one of them. Blessings