As the long dreary days of winter drag on, I get impatient for the new life that spring brings. Hopefully our goats are pregnant and we’ll be enjoying all that new kids bring to a farm. We’ll be starting up the milking routine once again, and that means soap making, cheese making, and getting out the cream separator for making butter.
Then there’s the garden. This year I’m especially excited to start a small lavender field and there’s the pumpkin patch, and the heirloom tomatoes and a new crop of broom corn to dream about. The seed catalogs are coming in the mail and I sit in the evening with a blanket and a Sharp-y and circle all the beautiful plants that I’d like to grow. I start dreaming of tender green plants and delicious early vegetables. (for more reading visit Thank Goodness for Peas)
Another part of spring that makes the long winter unbearable is waiting for the arrival of new chicks and turkey poults. This year I’d like to expand our Jersey Giant numbers and add some Bourbon Red turkeys to our flock.
With all of this to look forward to, winter can seem like an eternity. But over the years, I’ve found ways to make the waiting more active. I try to see the endless landscape of snow as a fresh white canvas that will soon be painted with new life. There are a lot of things I can do to prepare for the coming spring. Planning, researching and collecting materials now makes for a less hectic spring and allows me to enjoy all the newness without stress.
What you can do right now to prepare for spring.
Start doing your research now. Research breeds that are interesting to you, or that do well in your climate. My Pet Chicken or Murray McMurray have an amazing assortment of chicks available. There’s also a photo and breed description with each variety.
Check out the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. It might interest you to help support a breed that’s endangered. Finding these rare breeds can be hard because there numbers are so low. Start the search now so that you have a breeder lined up for Spring.
Get in touch with local breeders now. People who raise chickens to sell are already putting together their lists of people interested. To find people in your area who raise chickens, call your local 4-H chapter, your county extension office or Google “Poultry Clubs” in your area. The APA might also be helpful here. (American Poultry Association)
There are also a number of forums on line who deal with specific breeds. Talking with experienced people can help you determine if that breed is right for you.
Consider hatching eggs.
Hatching eggs are a great way to collect breeds that might not be available locally. It’s much easier to ship a box of eggs than it is to ship live birds. Research a good breeder now and get in contact with them.
Research incubator models and order now. I love the Brinsea incubators. They are easy to use wonderful for beginners. When your incubator comes, take the time to read about the way it operates so you’re prepared when your eggs come. Find a place in your home where the temperature is somewhat consistent and the eggs won’t be disturbed.
Breeding your own
If you plan to hatch out some of your own chicks this spring, and you have a mixed breed flock, factor in the time it takes to separate the hens for clean lines. It can take 2-3 weeks before she cleanses her system of the fertilization from another rooster.
(For more on breeding your own chickens check out my 4 part incubation series.)
Fill your calendar with poultry shows. It’s 2015, so there’s a whole years worth of poultry shows coming up. Do some research and find where some local ones will be held.
Whether you’re a first time chicken keeper or plan to expand or add another coop, now is the time to get your plans and materials together. Check Craigslist.com and Freecycle.com for recycled items like dog houses and fencing.
Gather brooding items and make room in your house for the brooder. Feed stores are already getting in all the items you’ll need to set up a brooder box. Start collecting items now and decide where your brooder will be. (For more reading on raising chicks, check out the links below)
Take time to enjoy each step of the process. Everything has a season and winter is the time for dreaming, for resting after the harvest, and preparing for the new life to come.
Tell us what you do to ease the impatience as you wait for spring. Share by leaving a comment below, or by visiting the Community Chickens Facebook Page.