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Category Archives: Notes from Donker Farm

Notes from Donker Farm: Eggcellent Eggs

At the end of last month, I stepped into the chicken coop to tidy up and came upon a most welcome sight—the first egg of 2018.

Chickens often take a break from laying in the winter months. The shorter days and cooler temperatures trigger the birds to turn their attention from reproducing (winter is a rotten time to raise chicks) and put their energy and resources into molting—the process of losing old feathers and regrowing new ones. This can take a few months—often just long enough for the days to start getting a bit longer again. I was told that the chickens would start laying again sometime in February. Sure enough, a few days after the first one, we found two eggs in the coop, then three. The last time I was there, I collected four.

And so begins the fun of trying to figure out just who is laying and who is still on “winter break”. We keep a variety of chicken breeds at Donker Farm: Black Australorps, Black-laced Wyandottes, Barred Rocks, a Welsummer and few others, each with their own distinct looks, personality and eggs. Narrowing it down to a small group of suspects is easy, but pinpointing the individual is a bit more of a challenge.

I took the picture above during our first summer on farm, and we still collect a similar rainbow of colors during the peak of laying season. It might not feel like spring yet, but the chickens insist it’s coming and so are the eggs!

Interested in helping out at Donker Farm or general volunteering? See our Volunteering section!

Notes from Donker Farm: Walking (and waddling) into the New Year

Image of goose tracks in snow

BRRR! The heat of summer and mild days of autumn feel especially far behind us lately. The snow and frigid temperatures have shifted farm care from a leisurely, meandering activity to an all business affair. While the animals don’t seem bothered by the weather, the human helpers are having to bundle up to stay warm while taking care of usual farm chores and contending with winter challenges like freezing water buckets and shovelling access to the chicken coop and sheep barn.

If you can get past the cold, winter comes with it’s own special set of perks.

The farm is beautiful in all seasons. There’s something especially striking about the red paint of the barn against a backdrop of snow, and the lasting low temperatures allowed farm matriarch and resident artist, Elisabeth, to hang the ice rings along the edge of Tory Fort Lane.

After a busy summer and fall of doing — integrating a new sheep, raising baby chicks, cleaning debris from the paddock and replacing gates and lengths of fencing — the winter chill is forcing us indoors and allowing us time to plan for the spring ahead. Will we add to the flock? Raise another round of chicks? How can we engage more people at the farm? What projects will we tackle next? This could be our most exciting year on the farm yet, and we’re looking forward to keeping you up to date on all of the exciting happenings and changes to come!

Interested in helping out at Donker Farm or general volunteering? See our Volunteering section!


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