We’re back from our trip to the seashore. Ocracoke island in the Outer Banks is beautiful. The island is not quite open for tourist season yet, which meant we got a real feel for the island itself- quiet and isolated. Legend has it this island was a hang-out for Blackbeard the Pirate, and the place where he was killed. My daughters spent hours burying seashell “treasure” in the sand to hide from the pirates… but the only pirate I saw was a weather-beaten plastic one on the front deck of a restaurant… maybe the pirates are seasonal too.
We spent hours enjoying the beaches entirely to ourselves, and had our pick of the very best seashells each morning. I’ve got buckets of shells soaking in bleach now, hopefully enough to make a shell wreath. I ALSO have a bucket of bleach way out in the barn- where we are soaking 2 very stinky starfish we found washed ashore. Those were quite a pleasant surprise for my husband- you can imagine how thrilled he was when I asked him to deal with that particular package. Hopefully he can manage a way to hang them to dry away from all the stray cats. Speaking of which, Ocracoke is curiously filled with cats. We saw dozens of them as we explored the island. Cats and cemetaries tiny little graveyards strewn about, each with just a handful of residents.
I also spent a lot of quiet time (and there is a lot of quiet time on an island that depends on a ferry to get on or off) trying to make some decisions about my spring chicken raising project. Pretty sure I have settled on a design for the coop- a 4×6 style with a fenced in area with a roof connected for pasture area. I fear we have too many loose dogs and coyotes in our neighborhood to let the chickens totally free range. I will either try to let them range about when I am home and can keep an eye on them, or may go with a chicken tractor to move them around the yard. Early in the mornings I could hear roosters crowing, but couldn’t find many coops visible on the island.
Finally, I think I settled on breeds. I’ve always wanted to raise some American Heritage breeds, but since this is my first go-round I am a little wary of investing heavily into specialized birds. My plan is to order some Plymouth Barred Rocks and some Buff Orpingtons, and I’m still considering whether to get a few Buckeyes as well. The Buckeye is what I had originally wanted to raise, and I finally found a place where I can order just a few to start with. I’m trying to stick with cold-hardy birds with reputations as good layers- so far these breeds sound ideal.
Next up, I have to figure out when to order these little chicks and plan for their arrival date. It NORMALLY is pretty cold up here into May, but this winter has been totally bizarre and not nearly as cold as normal so I’m not sure what to expect for spring. I think I’m still going to shoot for a late May arrival, or possibly early June. That should give us plenty of time to get the coop built. Which means I also need to decide on a location for the coop. I haven’t really any idea how close or far away from the house I want these girls to be- far enough to not be smelly, but near enough to run out and do chores quickly, and maybe even let the kids go gather the eggs. Yeah, I guess location is the next thing to settle upon.