March 8- the big melt, day one

Freezing again temperatures again in the morning, which made for a pleasant dawn trip to let out the chickens.  Easy to get up early today, since the lack of electricity has led to generally early bedtimes and wake-up times.  As I walked down, I saw that the pond had a thin coating of ice, funny that it should be frozen in March when it spent so much of December-February not frozen over.Image

It was actually quite lovely down at the chicken yard, with the sun rising and nice crusty hard-frozen snow not soaking my boots.Image

It didn’t take long for the temperatures to rise above freezing, and when they did, we experienced some fairly extreme melting and MUD!  As it was my chicken day, I had to make several trips down to the chicken yard, which, this time of year, requires walking past the compost piles.  The melting snow and thawing compost had combined into a foul nasty mess, a moat of disgustingness that I had to cross several times today.  Each time I passed, the air was warmer, the rivers of snowmelt were faster, and the horrible mud was deeper.

Here’s how things looked in the early afternoon– still a lot of snow on the ground, but it’s melting fast!Image

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rivers of snowmelt running out of the cow pastures and through the horrid compost.  In a weird way, all the melting snow reminded me of hiking through the Sierra Nevada in California in June many years ago, sheets of cold, clear water running across the landscape, puddles and ponds of snowmelt everywhere you look.  Although much less scenery and more compost around here…Image

A couple weeks ago, we decided to open up the fence around the chicken yard and let them be free range down in their bit of the farm.  The result has been much happier chickens, who generally spend their day picking through the compost and hunting bugs in the brush.  I’ve been feeding them thrown-away produce from our local supermarket dumpster, and they sure do love it.  I’ve been enjoying my time with the chickens much more now that they’ve been let out of their enclosed yard (which was getting pretty muddy, entirely free of grass and vegetation, and pretty disgusting).Image

And, yes, Free Willy, AKA the Rebel Rooster, is still kicking.  He has joined the flock, without apparent resistance  from or conflict with the other roosters.  He’s been roosting in the henhouse with all the other chickens, and seems to be quite happy as part of the flock, no longer the lone rooster.Image

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