It's still snowing today. The wind is blowing, Electric Peak is completely obscured, and the sun has only flirted with appearing. I'd love to say that I've risen above this external circumstance that is clearly beyond my control...but it would be a lie.
It's days like today that I think of when our summer guests tell us that they would love to live here. We earn every one of those idyllic, low-humidity, green summer days in late spring. It can be a struggle to maintain a positive attitude. Many of my extended family members are gathered in a warmer spot to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. (Happy Birthday Grandma!) If she can do it for all these years, I guess I can too. Even when it is snowing and it's April.
I went for a walk this morning looking for signs of spring and did find a few. Buds on the lilac bushes, strawberry plants in the garden and early spring moss painting the junipers by the river a fluorescent yellow.
Tim has spent all week constructing the chicken coop. It's based on a chicken tractor design that will allow us to move it when needed. The chicks arrived on Tuesday (Murdoch's in Bozeman sold 700 chicks in ONE day last week) and we are enjoying their quiet peeping and their rapidly growing feathers.
The chicks are 6 days old today; it will be about a month before they will be able to live outside no matter what the weather. Until then a heat lamp in the garage makes for the perfect 90 degree weather. We have 10 different kinds of chickens - I have no idea what any of them will look like as adults. Some are quiet, some are bossy, and some are content to sit in the feed dish all day long. When they fall asleep they stand and wobble for awhile, slowly bow their heads, and then rest their beaks on the floor in a sort of chick tripod until they are jolted awake by one of their nest mates. The chicks are all pullets (girl chicks) and layers; if all goes well we'll have fresh eggs by the end of summer. (And no roosters to wake you up at 4:30 a.m. - really!)
Yesterday my youngest daughter and I built a duck house. It's nothing like the palatial mansion that the chickens require...and, as Tim noted, there is not a square angle anywhere on it...but, it will work and keep the ducks warm at night. It was an exercise in patience and quite a bit of fun. According to our neighbor mentors, ducks don't need much more than a space that will stay warm at night and keep them away from the long list of predators that we have in the area. If the weather will cooperate we'll set it up in the garden along with the run I built out of an old cast iron bed frame. It's appropriately frivolous for the garden. We'll let you know if it serves its purpose.
If the weather ever changes, I'll get motivated and start on the gardening frames. I'm planting a Square Foot Garden this year - 24 frames of vegetables and herbs. The basic principal of the method is that you grow your plants in high quality soil in low, raised beds. The size of the beds allows you to weed and water without compressing the soil and many of my neighbors have had great luck with it. It may be yet another disastrous learning experience or a huge success. This time of year, all you can do it try to be optimistic and hopeful. Even when it snows in April.
"Bad weather always looks worse through a window." - Tom Lehrer