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Greenpoint: Waiting on the heat, with the patience of a hen

Greenpoint: Waiting on the heat, with the patience of a hen

Expecting new arrivals, and waiting for the garden to burst into production
Greenpoint: Waiting on the heat, with the patience of a hen
Last year, one of our broody hens hatched out a dozen chicks. We’re hoping for a repeat soon.
Photographer: Margaret Hartley/for the daily gazette

Hogging half the roosting area of the little hen house is a broody hen, her feathers fluffed and spread out to cover a pile of eggs. She’s been setting for close to three weeks, so either she’s about to hatch out a family or she’s sitting on a bunch of duds.

There’s another setter — hiding out under the turned-over canoe. We have no idea how many eggs she’s sitting on, or when she’ll either become a mother or give it up.

We were thinking of buying more chicks this year, but maybe we won’t have too. It’s nice when things just happen the natural way.

We have a pretty mixed up flock of chickens — some we bought, some hatched out at home, some were donated by a little girl who couldn’t keep them anymore. She kissed each one goodbye when she gave them to us.

The two that are setting are both Buff Orpingtons — nice big hens who can easily handle 12 or 15 eggs, their own and those of their compatriot hens.

Those compatriots are perfectly content to let the two setters take charge of incubating eggs while they spend their days wandering the yard, digging for worms and bugs, taking dust baths in the garden. The setters come out once every day or two, puffed up and noisy, and we give them bowls of chicken feed and water.

While we wait for chicks, we’re also waiting for the garden to burst into production. It’s always like this when you first put in seeds or small transplants. For a few weeks it looks like little is happening. It’s been cool, and the plants are still so small.

Our Ohio friend who grew up in the North Country where we now live likes to share photos of her spring flowers when we are still under snow. By this time of year, she’s already complaining about the heat and the weeding.

Our farmer friend from down the road moved to Tennessee last year, and gave us a garden update when he called at the end of May. “Potatoes are doing well,” he said. “I put in some sweet potato vines, and just for fun I planted some peanuts. I have a banana tree too — just want to see what it will do.”

“A banana tree,” my Floridian husband said, remembering the mangoes and avocados in his childhood yard. He’d spent that week shivering in a fleece and hat, reluctant to transplant the rest of the tomatoes. He was sure their little feet would get cold. “How can anyone live here?” he asked.

I had taken the week off from work to spend in the garden, and was happy reclaiming the flower patches the goats had destroyed over the past few years, moving surviving perennials, adding new plants dug up from other parts of the yard or bought at nurseries, filling in the spaces with annuals.

“Well, it’s very pretty around here,” I told my husband.

“Pretty cold,” he answered.

He was right. I intended to wear shorts all week to prove I was on vacation, but by Tuesday I was back in jeans and a sweatshirt, lighting a fire in the woodstove.

We planted the garden between rainstorms. We played with the goats. We made a lot of cheese. I climbed our home mountain with friends, and took the dog on extra-long walks. It was a good week. Yes, it was chilly, but soon enough it will be hot and a new kind of complaining will start.

Not from the Floridian. He relishes the heat, and only wishes it would start sooner and last longer.

I’ll wait for the heat and the vegetables, and the chicks.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on June 23. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

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