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