There is an update to our Ugly Duckling story from the summer, along with a surprising addition.  

One of the two chicks that was brooded by the turkey has survived, and the verdict is: she thinks she's a turkey.  We call her Turken.  She sleeps outside with the turkeys instead of in the coop with the other chickens.  She preens like a turkey and ranges with them all over the farm.  

On the other hand, one of our ducks also brooded and hatched some chicken eggs.  And while those chicks hung with the ducks for their first few months - standing on the bank while their mama and duck siblings swam - they sleep in the coop and have integrated themselves into the chicken flock.  So interesting!

In other turkey news, our Thanksgiving turkey results were kind of astonishing.  Our 17 turkeys - three different breeds, males and females - were all the same age and fed the same for eight months.  A few were small (8-9 lbs), most were medium-sized, and four weighed more than 30 pounds, including a 47 pounder!  A friend who helped with the slaughter very happily roasted it in his Big Green Egg, said it was fantastic, and has "a lot turkey casseroles in the freezer."

We've finished our fifth year on the farm and have deeply integrated our connection with the seasons.  Translated, that means we've been sleeping long nights this winter!  Tom still has laying hens, goats, pigs, cows, ducks and turkeys to care for, but things have slowed down without broiler chickens to raise and process and fewer farm tours happening in the winter.  With the garden put to bed, not milking the goats while they're pregnant, and fewer eggs to sell, my outside farm work is much slower.  I like analyzing what we've done and planning how we can improve, and winter is perfect for that.  The short version is that we grew at a comfortable and robust pace and are very grateful that this life we so enjoy is allowing Tom to work as a full-time farmer.

Tomorrow is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the day I've set aside this year for "farm school."  My idea of a good time!  This year we're going to grow more herbs, something I've been interested in for many years, so that will be one focus.  I'm also looking forward to the Virginia Association of Biological Farming conference next month in Danville.  It's so much fun to spend time with other farmers and there's a lifetime of information to learn.

For the past couple of months we eagerly await the end of the work day and time when I read aloud to Tom by the woodstove.  We were surprised to discover that not only is Wendell Berry an incredible poet and essayist, but he's written many novels.  We love reading about traditional farming practices and following the ongoing development of the characters, in Wendell's beautiful prose.  Great literature is such a gift.

We simultaneously and independently have new past times, too.  About ten days ago Tom bought himself a guitar for his birthday, and I decided to start playing the djembe that he brought back from Ghana many years ago.  We're really into it, and have been having such a good time that I wonder what will happen when the growing season bursts upon us and the sleeping/reading/music-making hours disappear.  That time will be upon us in a heartbeat.

We'll be happy to see you when you come through the gate.



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