Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gardens & Farms & Chickens & Friends

The school farm has a coop that is almost ready for its very own school chickens.
We were putting finishing touches on it last week, when it occurred to me that it might be fun to bring in some scouts... ambassador hens from our Bird House & Barn to pay a visit and give their cluck of approval. A formal garden tour event would be dropping by the garden and farm, and it seemed like a good time to add big fat happy hens to the mix!

Maria and I chose to bring Lilikoi, because she is especially big, fat, and happy. We brought Mako, the Ameraucana, that looks like a bearded hawk, because she is a docile darling. Liberty, our Cuckoo Marans, is on the low end of the pecking order, but she could care less; she's an adventure seeker, off on her own, and content to be so.

Maria, testing the floor of the coop. Mim loaded a wheel barrow with straw flakes, then Maria and I got busy tossing it around. It's a bit senseless spreading straw for hens, because they do it for themselves, and happily, too. But, we like to feel useful, so we fussed a bit over everything, filled their water, brought in potted flowers, and filled their feeder.

Looking OK to go, coop 'n' corral!


No. Hold on a sec...

The chickens were here as a small addition to a greater effort: The School Farm, organic, locally raised food for the schools, a gathering place for students and families to be together, planting seeds, cultivating community, and food. But chickens. I cannot suppress my own special fondness for my darling chicas, and as long as they were going to be out, and representing chickendom I wanted everyone who saw them to know them better. They would need some kind of introduction... but, what-how?

I headed back to the house, pressed for time, and not sure what to do about introducing the chickens. I decided to paint.

These wood scraps, leftover from building the cottages were what I started with. If I had planned better, I wouldn't have been rushed, and layering wet paint, and feeling like a hasty amateur.

Oh, I forget. I am an amateur, and I was hasty, and even though I have already decided to retouch them, I think they turned out pretty good.

Yellow on wet blue paint? You get a slightly green Buff Orpington... lol.

Alex helped me gather screws and the drill and we had a neat sign, so everyone could meet the chicas!

Mim and Chaz provided the girls with a big sprig of overgrown kale, and they were happy. I had my sign, so I was happy. And Maria was about to get very happy, too...

First time flying a kite! Thanks to Adin and Chaz, Maria finally got to enjoy a wish come true, kite flying! And let me tell you, yesterday was a high wind kite flying kind of day!

In the beginning, there was probably too much wind, actually. But off and on, they were at it all day, and there was a great deal of success. The shark kite also broke away and Adin and Maria had to chase it down, clear across the school... good they could experience all the ups and downs that go hand in hand with kite flying.

When was the last time you flew a kite? Holding on to that string, feeling the tug of the wind, I was reminded of being six or seven years old, hair in braids, flying kites off of old highway 78. My brothers beside me, my mom setting the table for lunch, out in the yard. Good memories.

Lilikoi looked like she might lift off the ground in that wind! Her fluffy posterior was ruffled and stirred.

Nice thing about a coop, there are places to shelter, spots for nesting, space for sunning.

Everything tidy and complete. Right, Mako?

I think we got a seal of approval from the three hens.

At the school, visitors to the Farm, and Garden were led on tours, invited to sample fresh grown root vegetables, and given the seed bombs made by the students... clay rolled into small balls, full of native seeds; toss these in an open area, and wait for flowers explode!

Adin and Maria, farm and garden friends.

And after lunch, Maria and I moved from the Farm to the Garden, where we could help lead more tours, and greet visitors.

When there was a chance to explore further, we walked to church, where Alex, and Maria went to pre-k school. They have a beautiful community garden there, too.

It doesn't seem so long ago, that this is where Maria began going to school. It really touched my heart to hear her talk to Gail, telling her I used to play in this yard, when I was little.

I know, she is still little, yet not so very little. Not any more.

A Garden Recipe for Enchantment

2 barrels
Potting soil
A large arbor
Passion Vine... lilikoi!

Plant your passion vines in the barrels, with the trellis and arbor between them.
Add water, sun, three years, and voila!
The flowers and fruit, are a nice bonus to this darling shelter.

"This property provides the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive:
food, water, cover, and places to raise young."

National Wildlife Foundation.

It's nice to be reminded that we, too, thrive, in wildlife spaces.


Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

The school's chicken coop turned out so very nice and that sign is the cat's meow, so to speak. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love the sign! What a perfect touch to put it in the large flower pot. Everything - very well done!

judy in ky said...

This is all so inspiring. I wish I could find the words to tell you how wonderful it is, giving the kids in school the opportunity to learn so much about our beautiful world of plants and animals, and caring for it all. I can see the happiness on Maria's face, and I feel it too.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

The "chicken's cluck?" lol Thank you. The coop needs just a few more touches, and it will be ready for hens of its own. Pretty cool, yeah?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you! I feel like I got lucky... sometimes the muses don't show up!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Well, I think you put it quite nicely, Judy. Thank you.
I want to add... there were many children involved and volunteering, that day, and leading up. The programs in the school are amazing and their intentions are inspiring. We are really fortunate to have so many dedicated, forward thinking people to lead this garden movement.

warren said...

I like the greenish buff orp...It's a great sign and how will a chicken know someone is talking to her if they don't call her by name?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, Warren.
You totally get it, naturally, being a chicken guy, too.
Hen's gotta have some respect!