The effort to keep the chickens/ducks/guinea fowl safe from the hawks has had its own complications. We originally built the coop (10x16) and pen (10x20) to hold less than 50 birds. Although it’s easy to limit population growth of chickens and ducks (collect the eggs), the guineas lay eggs in hidden forest nests. Our 25 guineas became 70 guineas over the Summer. The coop today has 64 guineas and 11 chickens - 75 birds in close proximity. Normally they roost from dusk to dawn and are running around the farm during daylight hours. By limiting them to the coop during hawk hunting hours, they have less free outdoor time. The consequences are that they have increased proximity and less fresh air movement.
Chocobo, one of our Buff Orpington chickens, is low on the pecking order. This week, while confined, she was pecked by other birds and had mild bleeding of her comb. We cleaned her up, applied Vetericyn (a spray on antibiotic), and isolated her into the mini-coops we use for raising young birds. She’s healed nicely.
Snow, one of our Brahma chickens, developed an upper respiratory infection and began sneezing violently. We’ve done our best to keep the coop open on cloudy days. We’ve dug out all the bushes (buried under 7 feet of ice) that the poultry uses to hide from hawks. Given that Boston just broke all historic winter records, that’s been an ongoing battle. Snow the chicken is doing well now that she has more outside time.
I’ve tried very hard to minimize travel this year, but I was asked to join an important strategic planning session at a foundation in California, support one of our industry partners by giving a keynote in Dubai, and chair the Standards Committee in Washington. Kathy has had to keep the farm running during my time away. The dogs miss me and we tend to defer maintenance tasks and the more physical projects until my return. Balancing my various work tasks, my farm tasks and travel makes me want to use Skype as much as possible, minimizing travel time so that I can serve all the organizations, people, and creatures in my life instead of sit in airports.
As a farmer, my role is maximize the life quality of every creature on the farm. As a CIO, my role is to make a difference with my staff, my country, and the world. In 2014, we acquired all the technologies necessary to maximize farming efficiency, enabling me to use my nights and weekends most wisely. As we ramp up production and scale, we may need to bring on some part time help to support Kathy when my job responsibilities fill the 24 hour day.
Our Spring planting is now done, both hoop house seed planting and indoor seedling germination. The BIDMC COO asked why my fingertips are cracked. My upper extremities are now farmer’s hands and not surgeon’s hands.
I look forward to the thaw of the next few weeks and exciting projects we have planned for late spring including new mushroom production, tree planting, fence mending, wiring the cider house to support the move from hand cranked tools to powered tools, and replacing the 30 year old farm driveway.
In our modern era, each of us will have 5 or more jobs. My heart leads me to farming but my brain drives me to make a difference on as large a scale as possible. For many years to come, I will shovel manure on nights and weekends while “fertilizing” ideas in my technology day jobs.