Signs of Spring

Greetings Nashua Farmers' Enthusiasts,

Dog-tooth violet

Dog-tooth violet

With another nor'easter lurking around the corner, it's a bit hard to believe that this is the first day of spring. We recently returned from a trip west to the Grand Canyon, having missed all three of the past storms. However, arriving home at 2:30 am to three downed trees across our 250 ft. long driveway (yes, trees buried in some 30" of snow) was SO welcome! Thankfully our niece had shoveled a pathway all the way up, and our neighbor had snow blown a cut through the mountain left from the street plows. I'll take New England anyhow!

Signs of spring abound. The days are so much longer, tree buds are swelling, wild birds are courting and vying for nest boxes. I even had tulip and daf bulbs peeking up before all this white stuff. It's time to shed winter's hibernation tendencies and awaken to the tugs of the season.

Nashua Farmers' will be presenting a poultry seminar this coming Saturday, March 24, at 9:30 am. If you are still thinking of ordering baby chicks, you have until the end of this month to do so. The following is a list of the egg laying breeds that will be available:

New Hampshire Red- Outstanding vigor, size, uniform growth, and early maturity. A heavy producer of large brown eggs with extra good shell texture. We've raised this breed for 35 years and find them to be friendly and very hardy. Our hen named Silly lived to just shy of her 18th birthday!

Barred Rock- An old time favorite producing large brown eggs. Very hardy and preferred by many of our customers. We once had a Barred Rock rooster named Woodpecker who took on a fox without hesitation to protect his flock. He kind of won with a little help from us. He lost all his flowing, gorgeous tail feathers and his pride.

Araucana- The most beautiful of all the breeds in our opinion. Known as the Easter egg fowl, laying blue, green, pink, and olive drab eggs. Some have whiskers and others have muffs that cover their ears. Araucanas originated in Chile and come in many different colors. Their eggs are reported to have more nutritional value than others. Our rooster, Phelps, is going on 11 years, and sports the most iridescent, multi-colored feathers. He has turned a corner in his golden years and is delivering very acceptable manners.

Golden Comet- One of the finest brown egg layers available today. This is the only sex-linked breed we are offering. This means males and females hatch as different colors and are thus distinguished male from female. In this way you can be assured of receiving all pullets (females). Golden Comets mature the earliest of any breed we've experienced, laying eggs of excellent size and quality. This breed is quiet and docile, yet able to withstand cold climates. Our hens, Haley and Comet, are no longer with us but are remembered among our most friendly and engaging.

Amberlinks- After having been away from the U.S. market for several years, this breed is back by popular demand. We have no experience with Amberlinks but love to experiment with someone different. This breed is mainly white with some brown feathers. According to our hatchery, "she has become a favorite, with an excellent rate of lay combined with beautiful full brown egg color." Our hatchery is one of the very few to offer this variety in the country. Worth a try? You decide!

Also listed on our order form:  Cornish Rock Cross broilers (meat variety) and Broad Breasted White Turkeys (turkeys arrive June 6th or 7th, baby egg laying chicks arrive May 10th or 11th).

It's time to place your pre-paid orders for bare root plants. Our supply is limited to what we ordered from our sources back in December. So far we are in good shape. Please note that our famous onion plants will be arriving as early as April 6th and need to be picked up immediately. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then, and it really is the time to get them in the ground. Strawberries, blackberries, rhubarb, asparagus will be arriving soon thereafter. Sweet potatoes will arrive the end of May. Remember, supplies are limited.

Get ahead by pruning trees and shrubs as soon as possible. Rake lawns and perennial beds as soon as the soil is dry enough. There are lots of perennial weeds, grasses, and winter annuals that will present themselves as soon as snow recedes. I've found that weeding then, when roots are loose (and still asleep) is VERY rewarding and saves much time and energy later.

Within the next two week is an ideal time to start warm weather crops from seed. These include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. If you've already got cold weather plants up and going (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.), be ready to harden them off and get them into the garden mid April.

My husband, the entomologist, warns that ticks will be present and ready to do their thing when the temps are above freezing. Early April is when I've received black-legged tick bites in previous years. NOT GOOD!!! Time to get out bug baffler pants, high boots, and repellents.

Happy Spring, and that's it for now.

Judy Ratta-Harrington