Chickens

Summer Fun in the Sun!

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It’s been a while since we have updated the blog, mostly because the summer is such a full, verdant, vibrant time to be here. It’s been a hot summer and we have spent a lot of time outdoors appreciating the beauty and working on projects outside to improve our guests’ experience.

So much has happened since our last post! In a quick recap of summer, everything is in bloom and we are extending the boundaries of our gardens to make room for new flowers and crops.  Luke has put in 8 new flowers beds in the lower field, and his plans include spring, summer and fall blooming flowers. It really has been a joy to see them bursting out in a colorful array. We are excited to experience each new season and the surprise of flowers that pop up in the freshly tilled soil.

Luke has added new flower beds in the lower field, where every season we enjoy new blooms!

Luke has added new flower beds in the lower field, where every season we enjoy new blooms!

Now, with more flowers to tend to, Luke is working on perfecting our irrigation system. With a series of timers and gravity fed spigots that draw water from the pond, we are getting closer to nurturing the plants to their optimum potential. (More on this, later!)

Dahlias are some of our favorite summer blooms!

Dahlias are some of our favorite summer blooms!

I’m coming to realize that we just don’t have enough vases for all of the flowers that are adorning the property. It has been such a rejuvenating experience each week to fill a bucket until it is brimming over with flowers to make bouquets for every room. In true form, the square footage (or acreage) of Luke’s gardens grow by 20-30% every year. What started as a 10x10’ plot has grown to 5,000 square feet. I think next year we will have to start a little flower stand or bring them to market, as they are so beautiful and abundant!

Foxgloves bloom in the lower field, where Luke has planted a cutting garden.

Foxgloves bloom in the lower field, where Luke has planted a cutting garden.

Our chickens have learned how to escape their coop and we love seeing them explore free-range, enjoying the fresh food available in the garden and yard. They have gotten braver and friendlier with each day, where now you must close the doors and windows of your car or they might take it up as their new roost. I absolutely love them. As I write this, they are hunting and pecking around my feet at the pebbles of our outdoor patio. Now that they are exploring a wider footprint of the property, we sometimes find their eggs on the lawn, which brings back all of the joys of childhood scavenger hunts and Easter egg parties!

Our friendly little chickens enjoy exploring the property at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast, free-range!

Our friendly little chickens enjoy exploring the property at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast, free-range!

The Bed and Breakfast has been busy and we have loved seeing returning guests, who we are happy have enjoyed their experience enough to come back – some have even brought friends on their return journey! We have had a few long-term stay guests and it has been fun to get to know people better and see them feel at-home as guests at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast.

Guests at our B&B enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and the view from our Vermont Bed and Breakfast.

Guests at our B&B enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and the view from our Vermont Bed and Breakfast.

One project that truly excited me to accomplish was the addition of a tiny free library, which guests can enjoy as they walk the path around the pond. Placed just next to a mossy rock, it’s the perfect place to read a little poem or reference a bird watching book to see what species just flew by. As I write this, a hummingbird stopped by to visit the zinnias and enjoy their sweet nectar. I find that if you are quiet for a moment here, you are bound to see something awe-inspiring.

Check out the books in our new tiny free library!

Check out the books in our new tiny free library!

It has been a fun and delicious experience to enjoy the berries and fruit that grow on the property. We had a very healthy crop of currants this year and the walk around the pond easily becomes a feast when the raspberries are in full season, as they were earlier this month. The blueberries are still a little young to harvest but are starting to show the signs of fruit development and hold promise for next year. Our next big crop will be apples, which are starting to blush a beautiful pink. Our dog, Stout, is starting to visit the apple trees to snack on the sweet and tart treats.

Summer is winding down and we are savoring every day that we get to play outside and enjoy this beautiful place. Fall foliage is starting to turn and we are looking forward to the crisp air and coziness that autumn brings to New England. We are so grateful to live here and share this experience with guests at our Bed and Breakfast.

-Carin McCarthy

Local Food Comes Home to Roost!

Spring has sprung on the farm! We’re busily planting our garden with fresh fruits, flowers and veggies to share with our guests at the Bed and Breakfast. With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, we’re seeing real changes in the landscape. The trees are blossoming and the mountain view is changing colors every day. It’s really a beautiful place to be!

The garden is filling out!

The garden is filling out!

Vermont is a great place for foodies to visit! With nearby farmers markets, breweries and vineyards, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

We’re trying to source as much of our food locally as possible. In addition to growing our own strawberries and melons, this year, we’re excited to have a few new additions to our farm. We are raising little baby chicks and ducklings, who are really showing off their photogenic qualities and charming us with their cuteness every day. As they get older, they will begin to lay eggs.

The ducklings, on their first field trip!

The ducklings, on their first field trip!

As you’ve seen in our earlier posts, Luke has built the ducks and chickens beautiful little coops where they can stay warm and cozy. We’ve fenced an area of the lawn so that they can explore the beautiful Vermont outdoors and stay safe from nearby wildlife who might like to add local meat to their menu. With mountains, fields and water all around, we are confident that these little birds have the best view in Vermont.

The chicken coop, while under construction.

The chicken coop, while under construction.

Our hope is that by the late summer we’ll be able to feed our Bed and Breakfast guests a menu of items that include farm fresh eggs. We love making French toast, quiche, baked goods, and fluffy scrambled eggs, and we’re excited to share the fresh flavors of our farm with our guests.

We’re raising a few different breeds, as I mentioned in an earlier post, and I’m excited to see the rainbow of different egg colors. Chickens lay one or two eggs a day during the sunny season, and their production slows down a bit in the winter as they are conserving energy.

The ducks had a swim lesson and were naturals!

The ducks had a swim lesson and were naturals!

Now that the weather is perfect and the nights are mild and breezy, we are nearly ready to move the chicks and ducklings outside to their new home. They are currently housed in one of our little barns and enjoying the added comfort of a heat lamp until their full feathers come in. It should just be a few more weeks until they are ready for the great outdoors.  We are excited to see how they like their new accommodations!

-Carin McCarthy

Planning for Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs

Spring is coming, which means it's almost time for the baby birds to arrive at our local hardware store!  We are excited to be raising a roost, so we put our order in early. We picked out some of the best layers they had to offer. They will arrive just after hatching and we'll raise them by hand and heat lamp until they are ready to go outside and move into their new coop! 

Here's a desciption of the hens (and ducks) who will be living on the farm and contributing to the fresh breakfast menu items we offer at the B&B!

Rhode Island Reds - This is one of the most famous and all time popular breeds of truly American chickens. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of the same name, they have maintained their reputation as a dual purpose fowl through the years. Outstanding for production qualities, they have led the contests for brown egg layers time after time. No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Reds. Our "production" strain is keeping up the fine reputation of this old favorite. Baby chicks are a rusty red color and the mature birds are a variety of mahogany red. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Golden Laced Wyandottes - The “ancestors” of Golden Laced Wyandottes originated in Wisconsin and were called Winnebagoes. By 1880 they received their present-day name. This variety is a beautiful combination of rich golden bay laced with lustrous greenish black. The general feather pattern is very similar to the Silver Laced Wyandottes. A beautiful bird for exhibition. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Silver Laced Wyandottes - The Silver Laced is the original Wyandotte and the other varieties were developed from it later with crosses on other breeds. It is an outstanding example of American poultry breeding ingenuity and is one of the most beautiful breeds we offer. It is colorful, hardy, and productive. The broad feathered, smooth fitting plumage is sharply marked. The general appearance is silvery white and lustrous greenish black as each feather is edged in a contrasting color. The close-fitting rose comb and good body size are valuable assets for winter laying. Cold weather doesn't seem to bother them at all as their hardiness and vigor keep them laying straight through the winter. They lay a nicely shaped, good sized egg, varying from light to rich brown and will set some. This is another excellent variety for exhibition. Baby chicks vary from almost black to light silvery gray and many have contrasting light and dark stripes on the back. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Araucanas - This unusual breed gets in name from the Indian tribe of Chile where they were first discovered.  Our chicks have some Araucana and some Ameraucana blood mixed and consequently are not for show but are beautiful chickens known for their ability to lay colored eggs of shades varying from turquoise to deep olive to shades of brown.  Each bird will typically lay a different shade of colored egg that will amaze your friends and make a wonderful "show and tell" type project for school.  Adults are of medium size with pea combs and our breeding stock are selected for their ability to produce colored eggs.  They exhibit a wonderful combination of colors and color patterns and 10 or 20 of these birds will make an absolutely beautiful laying flock that is extremely hardy and will be the talk of the town.  Baby chicks come in all colors, plain and fancy, just like the adults.  This is a unique breed and great fun to have when the colored eggs start coming.  (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Golden Cornets - The Comet has been widely acclaimed in all areas of the world where brown eggs are preferred. The reason is simple. The Comet pullet is easily one of the finest brown egg layers available today. They mature early and lay eggs of excellent size and quality. She is an extremely quiet bird, that seems to be able to withstand the colder, non-insulated, laying houses of the small flock owner, better than most breeds. The Comet is a buff sex-link strain. The chicks may be sexed by color, pullets red-roosters white. When mature, the  Comet pullet is golden red in color, but has some white showing through in her neck and back. (Mt. Healthy Hatcheries)

Pekin Ducks - Originating in China in ancient times, White Pekins were brought to the Western World in the middle 1800’s. Their fine meat quality and egg laying ability quickly made them the first choice of American duck growers. Both the male and female are creamy white in color, yellow skinned, and very large breasted. The males carry a fall weight of 10 to 11 pounds and the females weigh 8 to 9 pounds. They are the easiest domestic ducks to pick and prepare for eating. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

We look forward to sharing updates about our little brood's progress. We expect them to arrive in early May. It will take a little while for them to adjust and be ready to lay fresh eggs but we'll be happy to prepare some new breakfast recipes with eggs to keep the farm flavors fresh and local. 

- Luke & Carin McCarthy

Cooking Up Some Projects on the Farm!

After a successful summer and fall season here at the B&B we've realized something: we go through a ton of eggs! We had always wanted to get a small flock of chickens but after going through so many eggs this year our plans have been moved up a little. While our new flock of baby chicks wont be here until early May, there is no time like the present to build them a nice and cozy home to live out their days. 

Read about the DIY build project and design.