Harvest Monday on Memorial Day 2012

If I hurry, I can still get my post done before the end of Monday. We just returned from a fabulous weekend trip, spending Saturday night with friends in Santa Clarita, and Sunday night at the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells (Palm Springs area) with our son , daughter-in-law, and four young grandchildren. Yesterday and today were  spent by the pool in decadent splendor, watching the kids splash and swim in the pool while I drank mimosas brought by the cabana boy. Sheer luxury.

We came home to find that our Plymouth Rock hen, Miss Hillary, has definitely gone broody on us. She was sitting on a clutch of eggs when we left. I removed the eggs, but she was still sitting on newly laid ones when we got back. Fortunately, she is a good-tempered hen and doesn’t mind when I gather eggs from under her.

I am now faced with a dilemma. Do I try to “cure” her of being broody by isolating her away from her nest box or dunking her in cool water (two suggested cures), or do I try to trick her into thinking that she has hatched chicks by letting her set on a couple of dummy eggs for 21 days and then putting a couple of newly hatched chicks under her?

I’m really not set up for taking care of baby chicks because we don’t have a brooding lamp, but Miss Hillary may be able to do that job for me. We have no rooster, so her eggs aren’t fertile, but our local feed store sells day old chicks. I’m seriously thinking of trying to use Miss Hillary as a surrogate mom, which would fulfill her maternal instincts and give me a couple of new hens for next year when my current flock of three is older.They’ll be three and four years old next summer, and some new hens would keep us in eggs.

Hey, you folks out there with chickens, what do you think? How long will my current hens lay eggs? What do I need to know to be able to allow Miss Hillary to attempt to raise some chicks? I know our granddaughters would love seeing baby chicks and watching them grow up. So would I!

Once again, I ate all of my harvests before taking any photos, so you’re stuck with looking at pictures of what is growing in the yard.

This is the view to the west from our deck in back. How small is our yard? Well, except for the nectarine tree at the lower left, these trees are on the OTHER side of our neighbor’s yard.

This is the sitting area on our deck, where I like to contemplate my garden with a glass of wine late in the day.

This row of snow peas is by the deck, and will soon block my view of the garden from the deck.

These are the first snow peas from the second planting of peas on this fence so far this year. When this second planting of peas is done, I’ll plant pole beans here.

So far, only two Granny Smith apples have set fruit despite the fact that the tree had a record number of blossoms on it. This may look like a big apple, but it is only the size of the end of my thumb at this point.

Of all of the flowers on all of the fruit trees in my yard, this one excites me the most. It is the first and ONLY flower ever on my 20th Century Asian Pear tree since I planted it four years ago. I don’t know if this one flower will be self fertile or if it needed a pollinator. My Shenseiki Asian Pear also had one and only one flower this year, but an insect chewed on it before it opened, so I have no hope of it producing a pear or being able to pollinate this flower. I should know in a couple of weeks whether or not this flower got fertilized.

Maybe I’ll remember to take photos of my harvests next week. I am expecting my first yellow summer squash in next week’s harvest, plus a prodigious amount of bok choy. Meanwhile, here is the harvest ending Sunday, May 26, 2012.

FRUITS

3 oz Lemon, Eureka

10 oz Limes

2 oz Strawberries

Subtotal 15 oz

VEGETABLES

11 oz. Artichokes

13 oz Beets, Chioggia

6 oz Bok Choy

1 oz Green Onion

Subtotal 1 lb 15 oz (31 oz) Vegetables

TOTAL 2 lbs 14 oz Produce plus 12 eggs

If you had a harvest, or to see what others are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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16 Responses to Harvest Monday on Memorial Day 2012

  1. Andrea says:

    Just loving those peas and the glass of wine on the little balcony (every one should have one).
    Yes get some day old chicks . I brought 2 to put under my broody hen, i put them in my pocket and then early one morning (still dark) slipped them under her. They chirped and then the hen let out a few mothering clucks and all was well.

    • Andrea, thanks for the advice on the baby chicks. My husband is against it, but I’m not sure where to get young hens for next year’s eggs other than raising my own. As for the deck and wine, should everyone have a glass of wine or a deck? 🙂 I think both.

  2. Ali says:

    I haven’t tried the broody hen and chick trick, as (fortunately) only 1 of my hens has ever gone broody. But if one did, I think I would try, because it would make the hen happy (at least until she learns what pests kids can be!) and 2 raising chicks is a fussy endeavor. Good luck whatever you decide!

    • Ali, thanks for the advice. The vote seems to be to let her try to raise chicks. I’ve been putting her in a run with no nest, but it isn’t working so far. She’s still broody.

  3. Daphne says:

    Good luck with your pear. I had precocious trees this year. A peach and an apple planted last year really wanted to set tons of fruits. I stripped them all though as this is just their second year. If they produce next year, I’ll let them keep it.

  4. maryhysong says:

    I would isolate your broody hen to a small area with a nest with fake eggs, some food and water for a few days. If she stays broody then you could put some chicks under her (do that at night while she’s asleep). She should take care of keeping the chicks warm enough, but watch carefully for a day or so to make sure she’s a good mama. Mine haven’t gone broody yet, so I’m thinking of buying an incubator…. the above advice from Harvey Ussury’s book about small flock poultry keeping.

  5. Mrs.Pickles says:

    lovely pictures! That apple looks great!!!

  6. Bee Girl says:

    Our (currently) broody hen is not very nice at all. We’ve isolated her in the hope she’d get better, but she just got meaner. I wish I could help you but I think we’re going to have to cull Broody since she’s so awful these days 😦 Good luck with your chick experiment (if you decide to go through with it). I look forward to seeing what happens!!!

    • Bee Girl, I am fortunate that Miss Hillary is the nicest of my hens, very tame. We got her from Centennial Farm where groups of children visit daily. She was used to being handled and petted and is a very sweet hen. But she’s still broody. I’m not a real farmer, and don’t cull my hens. My girls are with me for life. At least so far.

  7. Susi says:

    I love your sitting area. : ) That’s funny that you ate all your harvest before you took pics.

    • Susi, I’m afraid that eating my harvest before photographing it is par for the course. Or if I remember to take a picture of the harvest, I eat what I make with it before taking a picture of the finished dish.

  8. I’m a little jealous you still have snow peas, I just ripped all mine out.

    We have THREE fiercely broody Buff Orpingtons this spring. I usually just wait them out, as eventually things usually return to normal. You have be diligent about pulling eggs though, so they don’t have anything to sit on. You can try the faux egg-chick swap, but not all broody hens know what to do with the chicks, and you may find yourself raising them yourself. The other concern is, does Miss Hillary have room mates? It’s usually safer to isolate the broody hen with her very young chicks, as sometimes other hens can be very vicious to chicks that aren’t their own. The downside of that, is often, moving a broody hen will make her go off the boil, and again, you’ll be the one raising chicks 😉 Chickens aren’t always as straightforward as they seem!

    • Thanks, Clare. I do have an isolation pen, and have been putting Miss Hillary in it to keep her off the nest. But as soon as she goes back with the other two hens, she makes a beeline for the nests. She shows no inclination so far of going out of broodiness, but her temperature felt a bit cooler this morning. I’m aware that my other two hens would peck the chicks to death. They were pretty mean to Miss Hillary when I first got her. That’s when I set up the isolation run. It is fenced, but not covered. I would try to give her chicks, but we are planning a short trip in a few weeks, and I would like to be here to watch over things with baby chicks. Ah, the woes of a part-time, urban farmer.

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