Greenpoint: Bounty in springtime

Fresh goat milk, eggs and cheese — part of this spring’s bounty. (Margaret Hartley/For The Daily Gazette)
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Fresh goat milk, eggs and cheese — part of this spring’s bounty. (Margaret Hartley/For The Daily Gazette)

“Eight eggs!” I said. “Nice job!”

I was talking to the hens. It is suddenly spring, and they suddenly doubled and tripled production, and I like to encourage them when they do a good job.

Our flock is small and the hens range in age from prime layer to geriatric. We have more roosters and drakes than we need, and only one female duck, who is a little more than geriatric. But it’s spring, and even old Rosemary started laying an egg a day. Which is great for me because I love duck eggs.

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The next day the hens had 12 eggs in the nests in the coop, plus two in the goat shed. And we found another clutch in a little nest made of hay near the front door. I’ve been sharing eggs with friends and neighbors, but I think I still have four or five dozen in the fridge.

“Omelets for dinner,” my husband says, “along with all this great goat cheese!”

We sold off a bunch of the baby goats once they turned three months old, and so our milk production also has more than doubled. It’s a spring bounty. And it’s nice to start filling the wine fridge/cheese cage again. There’s cheese to eat fresh, cheese to eat in a few weeks and cheese to eat six months from now, plus yogurt and some pasteurized milk for our coffee.

Now if only we could see some green. It’s still freezing every night, and there are still patches of ice in the yard and plenty of ice in the ground. Despite that, the garlic is up in the garden and last week some daffodils finally popped an inch or two out of the ground. I haven’t heard a peeper or seen a leaf bud yet, but I expect all that will come in a rush.

It’s a dull landscape right now, with leaves and green grass still a dream. But a few more rainy nights and sunny days and it will be a fresh new world around here.

Then we’ll be watching for the peas to come up, and transplanting seedlings from the windowsill to the garden. I’ll try once again this year to figure out a way to keep goats out of my flower gardens. Right now I’m trying to remember what I planted in the new flower garden, and wondering when whatever it was will start poking out of the ground.

We’ll see which vegetables do better than expected this season and which ones disappoint. Last year our tomatoes weren’t very productive, but we had great potatoes and peppers. And tons of fennel and leeks — the first time we did well with those. The carrots were abundant but not very sweet — I should have watered during the dry spells. And I’ve already had a request to grow way too many hot peppers again, from a friend who turned some of last year’s surplus into hot sauce.

Every year is different. But every spring is a new reason for hope.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on April 24. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or on Twitter @Hartley_Maggie. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are not necessarily those of the newspaper’s.

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