Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection, as well as some Olive Eggers just for fun.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Things I've Learned

Have you ever had a week when you're continually amazed by the things you learn? I've had a week just like that.

I volunteered to raise some Buff Plymouth Rock pullets for my Dad, since I was raising a bunch of my own and it really isn't much more work to add another 12 to that bunch. Those gold birds turned out to be real hellions! Bigger than the rest of the babies, and a bit bossy, it was time for them to go to their real home. I also had a bunch of cockerels (young roosters) and they needed new homes, too. So this past Wednesday we loaded up the car with birds, kids, and the dog and took off for Amish country. After dropping the Rocks off at their new home, we took the baby roosters to the Mt. Hope Auction.

I've been to the various auctions before, but always to drop off cattle. The poultry portion of the auction was dusty and crowded and loud, and there were so many birds! There were chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, cockatiels and pigeons. There were teeny little baby chicks and ducklings, and full-grown Tom turkeys. There were also a bunch of bunnies, from huge white rabbits with red eyes to litters of adorable baby Rex bunnies. Things I learned: pigeons can be beautiful! There were the most graceful, beautiful birds I've ever seen, and it still amazes me that they were pigeons. I did *not* buy any pigeons, but I was tempted. I don't know what people do with them, but clearly a lot of people want them. The prices for the pigeons went fairly high. Secondly, some of the people at that auction were not the most scrupulous of people. I saw cages of male birds labeled "hens." I even saw two cages of male birds where someone had put an egg in the cage to fool the unwary into thinking the birds in the cage had laid the eggs. I saw one cage of ancient hens labeled "Pullets--18 wks." In other words, don't go to a livestock auction if you don't know what you're looking at--buyer beware! I wish I could have taken a photo of that big old rooster with the egg next to him, but they don't allow cameras at the auction.

I also learned something about pumpkins this week. I've never (successfully) grown pumpkins before. usually something eats the vines before they bear fruit. This year I have at least three good-sized pumpkins and several smaller ones. As you can see above, they're not Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins--they're eating pumpkins and will actually turn out brown. We love to roast pumpkins stuffed with garlic, herbs and cheese. Anyway, did you know that pumpkins send out more roots from their vines? I had no idea. Summer squash vines don't do that. Cucumber vines don't do that. Butternut and delicata vines don't do that. My poor pumpkins. I've only been watering the main stalk, not the entire 12-foot area where the vines are spreading. No wonder they looked wilted every day! Time to get out the sprinkler. Sigh.

Finally, my last lesson for the week--no matter how tough you are, put on some gloves when you hoe the weeds out of the entire garden. I have a giant nasty blister. Ouch!