Our sheep shearing program is in full swing. Farmer Jeremy showed visiting school children the proper way to give sheep a hair cut, as well as how to trim their hooves and give them their yearly health checkup. The best question of the day was whether the sheep need a jacket if they get sheared and then there’s a cold spell, as we’re expecting in the coming days. The answer is no, as long as the sheep have a quarter of an inch of wool, they’re plenty warm even on cold spring nights.
Later in the day we received a phone call from the post office. Our mail-order chicks had arrived and were peeping in their box, waiting to be picked up. That might not sound like a historically accurate way to start a new flock of chickens, but in fact the first commercial mail-order hatchery was begun in Stockton, NJ, by Joseph Wilson, in 1892. In the first instance of long distance shipping of day-old chicks, Wilson shipped 50 Barred Plymouth Rock chicks to a farmer in Illinois. Wilson's Pine Tree Hatchery became famous throughout the country, drawing customers from as far away as South Dakota and Canada.
Our baby chicks are now getting used to their new home in a coal-fired brooder, which has to be stoked by hand every few hours.
Howell Farm also welcomed two visitors today from Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, a living history farm in Media, PA. The Plantation is looking to expand its historical farming operations, so farm manager David Nielsen and assistant farmer Rachel Koski stopped by Howell Farm to talk to our farmers and see us in action. Currently, the Plantation has just one faithful draft horse in the barn and less than two acres under cultivation, but these young farmers have big plans. We wish them luck, and encourage you to go visit if you’re in the area. The Plantation is open to the general public on weekends from mid-April to mid-November.