April is such a strange month. The weather simply reaches blindly into the grab bag and pulls out whatever comes to hand. Lately the selections have favored snow, rain, and howling winds. We and the rest of the farm are tensed up, ready for the explosion of activity that characterizes May through November. But in April we remain crouched and twitching, waiting.
The number of chickens on the farm continues to increase. We have three batches of chickens at various stages of development, from one week old to five weeks old, all in all about two thousand chickens. Every year for the past seven years we’ve doubled the number of chickens we raise. Talk about the effects of exponential growth… We’re getting better at it, but the work and the expenses sure pile up with alarming rapidity.
The grass under the snow is green, but it hasn’t started growing yet. The cattle are eager to trade in their winter hay bales for fresh grass. We’d like to turn the chickens out to pasture, but things are too snowy and sloppy. For now, the oldest chickens are sheltered in an airy hoophouse with sawdust and loose hay underfoot. The younger chickens are still in the heated brooders as they are still too tiny to be out in the chilly, wet world.
Tomorrow the sun should come out again and the snow will melt. I think we’ve got at least another two weeks before meaningful grazing can begin. In the meantime we’ll do our best to keep the critters out of the mud and just keep watching for that magic moment when the grass begins to grow.