What’s Been Going On?

A lot has been going on!  This time of year there is so much to do.  Most gardeners probably feel the same way.  Future projects stretch on into infinity – but that is  GOOD thing.

First bit of news is we are in round 3 of the Bunny Wars.  We are now building a permanent – what I hope is indestructible – bunny proof fence around the veggie garden.  The reason for this is because the bunnies discovered they could chew through the plastic netting we had up.  We patched the ‘chew holes’ almost daily with zip ties but it only takes one bunny one night to decimate a row of just starting snap peas.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  If you calculate the cost of ALL the measures we have taken to get this garden up and running and now bunny proofing, the cost of my home grown produce is astronomical.  (But who’s counting?  Plus it’s so worth it!)

We are going for something similar to this:

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Second bit of news is WE HAVE ASPARAGUS in the ‘New and Improved Asparagus bed’!

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I have counted 5 little sprouts so far which to me is pretty exciting!

The new butterfly garden is fantastic with the iris just about finished blooming, the daisies, wisteria, clematis and peonies about to bloom.

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  I am not sure the yarrow is going to bloom this year after being divided and transplanted. It should have buds by now but doesn’t. The Swamp milkweed survived transplanting and I ordered and planted 2 more varieties.  Yes, I HAVE been busy. I planted morning glories to cover the old coop and sunflowers along the fence.  Our canna bulbs went in this week too.

The doggie poop area I wrote about is going GREAT and we landscaped around it with Ninebark shrubs and roses.

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  It looks great.

We need to fill in landscaped areas with mulch but I want to wait until the messy cottonwood tree behind our property is finished dumping it’s white fluff.  Have you ever dealt with that?  Pretty but YUCK!  Once everything is all cleaned up I will post pics.

In the veggie garden lettuce, peas, onions and radishes are up.  Beans are in the ground and tomaotes have been transplanted but we broke 2 of the plants while traipsing around working on the fence.   😦  I might wait to put in the pepper, cabbage, okra and brussel sprout transplants until we are finished working on the fence to avoid more mishaps.

The chickens are laying like crazy, seem happy with the warm weather and love that I toss them buckets of weeds every day.  I have an idea to use the old bunny fence and secure an area in the wooded/weeded lot behind our yard to let them free range a bit.  No one will know/no one will care and the gals will LOVE it!

((((((( Shhhhhhhhh – don’t tell! ))))))))

I haven’t started on my spring sprucing up of the coop yet but will soon.  Fence building has got me a bit behind schedule.  Look for pics of the spruced up coop and new free range area in a future post.

What has been going on in your neck of the woods?

No Farm? No Problem!

Or how to keep happy, healthy chickens even with limited space!

We can’t all live on an acreage or farm, but keeping chickens is not difficult and many cities allow chicken keeping.

 If you are an urban farmer like I am you may not want or be able to let you chickens free range all the time or at all.

Some chicken keepers keep their chickens solely in a small coop with a tiny attached run area.

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An adorable coop with run space beneath.

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This coop design is similar to mine but it is painted so cute and I love the screen door.

   If space permits it is best to give your chickens as much run space as possible.  Your goal is to get as close as possible to the happy, healthy life of a free range farm chicken.

A good  solution is to provide a ‘daytime’ pen.  This is simply a fenced in area that they are let out into during the day.  My daytime pen serves to keep them fenced away from my garden and flower beds and is not intended to be predator proof although someday I hope to upgrade it and make it more secure.

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My ‘daytime’ pen is just made of 5 ft stakes and wire fencing with no roof.  I would love a secure pen like this one,  only larger.  Isn’t it attractive with the vines growing on it?

 Some people have chicken ‘tractors’ which are simply portable coops that can be moved to different spots in the yard where there is fresh grass underneath:

Chicken Tractor

 Another option is the ‘chunnel’:

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Late summer, fall and winter I open the gate to the daytime pen and let them spend as much time ‘free ranging’ the entire yard as possible.  Sure, they make a mess of my mulch and dig holes to dust bathe in.  But seeing them happily roaming around my yard makes me happy too and is worth the bit of clean up I have to do.

  (I wont mention cleaning chicken poop off my deck).

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My gals are kept penned up in spring and early summer because tender seedlings and shoots would be destroyed by their scratching, digging and nibbling.

Eggs are healthier if a chicken receives their natural diet of greens, bugs, and roots.  However, even if their run starts out with grass and plants growing it wont take long for it to be stripped down to bare earth.

Since I use no weed killers or chemicals in my garden,  I pull weeds by hand and pitch buckets of weeds into the pen almost daily.  The gals eagerly gobble them up. They enjoy scratching around in the piles of weeds and clippings I toss in, searching for favorite tidbits and any insects that may be clinging to the weeds. Brewster always looks for bugs, Riot loves tender grass shoots and Sally loves clover.

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Lily and Ivy picking through a weed pile!

 In the winter, when my weed supply runs out,  I buy them bags of inexpensive greens to supplement their diet.  The few dollars a week I spend is worth it to have healthier gals and therefore healthier eggs. I can pick up a couple large bags of spinach, kale or mustard greens and toss them a few handfuls each day for about $6.00 a week. No need to spend a bundle to get them some fresh greens!

One way to keep them happy while penned up is to give them a shallow container full of sand for taking dust baths.  The sand can be supplemented with cooled ashes from your firepit or fireplace.  Chickens love to take dust baths.  It keeps their feathers clean and bug free and is so much fun to watch!

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Room for one more?

Another thing mine like is when I put a couple flakes of straw in the run for them to ‘pull apart’.  What fun!  They can turn an entire straw bale into a fluffy shapeless pile of straw in about an hour!  But then they have countless more hours of fun playing in it.

I have read about hanging a cabbage from a rope so they are kept busy pecking at it.

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I have not tried this because my gals are not big fans of cabbage, but I have used the fruit and nut sprigs sold in pet departments for caged birds.  Just hang them up in the coop and the gals will peck at them, I think they enjoy having something ‘different’.

Perches, swings and ladders can also give them something to do to keep boredom from setting in.

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Bored chickens may become irritable and start pecking at each other.

Just popping in for a visit with a treat like dried cranberries, a bit of corn or oats or whatever your gals like, plus some attention or even cuddles, will make their day.

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If the reason your flock must be kept penned up is because you are away all day perhaps you can hire someone to let them out a few hours before dusk and then secure them up again when they return to the coop at sunset.

Or invest in an automatic door for the coop:

http://www.automaticchickencoopdoor.com/shop/product-place-holder-1

Be sure to keep the pen clean.  When the flock is confined the poop will be concentrated in the smaller space, so a daily raking and clean up is a must.

A final caution:  If your situation is such that your chickens must be penned up all the time, be sure to resist chicken math.

DON’T OVERCROWD THEM!

If you are a busy person with limited space I would limit the flock to 3 or 4 hens.  That is enough to keep you well supplied with eggs, keep themselves company and warm on cold nights,  and still have enough room  to move about and not be crowded or wallowing in poop.

I think everyone should be able to have the joy of keeping chickens and the wonderful healthy eggs they provide.    With a little thought and planning,  a small flock can be kept happy and healthy,  even with limited space and time.

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I never get tired of seeing this!

 

NOW GO ON OUT AND ENJOY SOME CHICKENS!

A REAL Challenge!

A challenge that I have not yet met.

I’m talking about keeping a nice yard with dogs and chickens.

This is especially important in urban areas.

Having separate areas for your pets and chickens that can be landscaped around and ‘hidden’ from view is the best option I have seen.

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You almost can’t tell there is a coop in this garden.

 

A coop and chicken pen blended into a well landscaped yard with shrubs and grasses, works nicely.  I know of people who keep chickens in towns where they are not allowed, and they are tucked in so discretely that no one is even aware.

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My dogs have their own fenced off pooping area.

They even have their own back door that leads to it.

 (I have mentioned before, that actually is one reason we bought this house).

Every spring it turns to a muddy mess.  We have taught them to wait and let us go through the tedious job of wiping off their feet before they come in, but that doesn’t change the fact that their area is an eyesore.

Every year we re-seed the grass which my husband then ‘babies’  until it is thick and green.  We forget about the problem until the following spring.

This year we are not forgetting.

We have decided to put gravel down.  I saw it on Pinterest so of course it is a great idea!

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Our dog ‘poop’ area will be larger and fenced in but ya get the idea?

 

Here is a link with instructions in case you would also like to do it:

How to Build an Outdoor Dog Potty Area

All we have to do is dig out the dirt to a depth of about 4 inches, put hardware fabric down and cover with gravel.

Easy-peasy, right?

Since we can’t get a back hoe into the yard, we get the fabulous pleasure of digging out the dirt by hand.

No problem!

It is a good work-out and I have places to put the dug-out dirt:

  •  Some will go next to the new fence fill the gap and keep the neighbors dog from peeking and maybe digging under it.
  • A bit is going into my metal firepit which I have decided to turn into a planter (I have moved the darn thing a zillion times and still can’t find a spot I like.  It is either too close to the house or coop or to the fruit trees)  I promise to post pictures when it is finished.
  •  The majority is going into my veggie garden.  Yes I know it is poopy but it will be mixed in with the other soil and compost and will have a good month or two before anything is growing in it.  I know my dogs are parasite free.

I will be sure to post pics of the finished project – sorry I don’t have ‘before’ pics but just picture a poopy muddy mess.

The chickens also have their own area and to keep it from being an eyesore I planted some ornamental grass around it last year.  I plan to add to it this year.  The plan is to almost completely ‘hide’ the pen.  I don’t care how cute a coop is, the pen will be picked clean of any growing thing and have nothing but dirt and chicken poop.

Not pretty!

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Totally unrealistic!  These plants wouldn’t last a day!

 

 

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THIS is what the floor of a chicken pen actually looks like.

 If you let the chickens free range the entire yard all the time they will eat your plants as they sprout, make a total mess of your mulch, poop on your deck, roost and poop on your patio furniture and dig holes to take dust baths in.

Also not pretty.

Now if YOU don’t mind your yard looking like a barnyard that is fine with ME.

  Most of us DO mind and so do the neighbors.

A compromise is needed.

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This book has some great ideas!

 We placed an arbor in front of the entrance to the pen and plan to grow a pretty vine over it this year.

  Hanging planters on the coop or from shepherd’s hooks,  flower boxes or trellises with vines where the chickens can’t reach, are more great options.

  I think sharing your outdoor space with pets and chickens can be done attractively.

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I like the look of the vine growing on the coop.  You have to be careful the chooks can’t reach it though or they will eat it ALL!

We shall see!

 How do you keep your yard nice with chickens and/or pets?

Do you ‘hide’ your coop and pen?

What suggestions can you offer?

Maybe this blog should be called Ruth’s Garden!

Or maybe not. 

It seems I write more about my garden and garden related things lately.

I assure you, I still have my chickens and love them as much as ever.

My chickens are an extension of my garden and a progression that comes from loving to plant and grow my own food and flowers.

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I love to be connected to nature.   I would love to have been born on a farm or bought a farm years ago.

I may still do it one day!

In the meantime I will continue to be an Urban Farmer.  My chickens personify this for me and although gardening posts seem to have taken over my blog – my chickens are in the background being a large part of who I am.

I just consider ‘Chickens’ or better yet ‘Chickies’ to be a term of affection for all the things I love.  So here are some pictures of the non-chicken ‘Chickies’ I love:

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Puppy chickie, Gemma.

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Kitty chickie, Oliver.

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One of my grandbaby ‘chickies’, Lisette.

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My ‘chickie’ Grace with some of the girls.

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Me and chickies Danielle and Patrick.

So the blog name will stay.

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My coop ‘helper’. Don’t ya just love his outfit?

I hope you enjoy the pics of my ‘Chickies’!  Next post promises to be chicken related!

Spring Is Busy In The Garden!

There are always a million things to do and I have been too busy – aka having too much fun-  to write much.

Not sorry.

We got 6 fruit trees planted – 2 Paw Paws, 2 apricot and 2 pears. One of the Paw Paws and one apricot are still dormant but alive.( I did the ‘scratch’ test)  but the others are leafing out nicely.

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We splurged on a larger apricot tree from the garden center.

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The trees from Stark Bros were smaller and dormant when they arrived but they soon leafed out,

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This is one of the pears

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The Paw Paw!

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We planted a weeping cherry tree for decoration.

I splurged and got a Wisteria.  I have always wanted one and the type I got, Amethyst Falls, is an American variety, less invasive and it blooms when only 2 years old!

I am in love. 

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Blooming already!

The tomato,  pepper,, broccoli and cabbage seedlings are in.  Snap peas, beans, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, radishes and carrots are up and the bunnies are even leaving me some!

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This was earlier this spring. There are now also pepper, cabbage and broccoli plants here.

The milkweed I moved last fall survived and is popping up with a vengeance.

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Milkweed and other perennials in the Butterfly garden.

I planted more native plants that I received from Prairie Nursery.  I was happy with their fast shipping, great packing and the quality of the plants.

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My baby Queen of the Prairie…..

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One day it will look like this!

We put the littles out to the ‘transition’ coop a few weeks ago and today we opened up the gate between their and the older gals’ pens.

I am happy to say there was no bloodshed!

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Nothing beats getting acquainted over a yummy meal of weeds!

I hope you are having as much fun this spring!

Keeping Chickens Healthy.

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Why do factory farms pump chickens full or antibiotics?

Why do people think chickens carry disease?

Why do raw eggs pose a salmonella risk?

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Well my guess is it is because ‘factory farms’ are not the healthiest of places with thousands of chickens crowded on top of each other.

I have never smelled a commercial chicken farm but I can just imagine!

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It makes sense that ‘ home raised’ chickens, either urban or rural would be healthier just because they are not overcrowded.

Fresh air and sunshine are good for every living thing don’t ya think?

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A small backyard coop is easy to keep clean.

Poop should be removed daily except in winter if you are following the ‘deep litter’ method.  This is when you throw clean shavings on top of the old, allowing poop and old, soiled litter to ‘compost’ on the bottom which creates heat in the coop as well as reduces cleaning time on cold days!

You can read about the deep litter method here:

http://naturalchickenkeeping.blogspot.com/p/deep-litter-method.html

 Allowing your chickens some outdoor time – a large secure run and/or some free range time each day is very beneficial as it allows them to scratch around and nibble at green plants, roots, pebbles and insects – providing a more natural diet. The exercise also helps them have good muscle tone which prevents things like prolapsed vents and egg binding.

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Many people add apple cider vinegar to the drinking water to provide probiotics and lower the ph.  I don’t add ACV but do add a blend of essential oils that I made after researching poultry and natural ways to prevent respiratory issues.  My chickens have never been sick.

(knock on wood)

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Twice a year, spring and fall I give the coop a good, thourough cleaning where I remove all the bedding and scrub the walls, floor, nest boxes and roosts with an all natural disinfectant.  I make and use my own  version of the well known ‘Thieves’ blend of essential oils.  After cleaning I open all the windows and doors to let the coop air out all day.  Then I sprinkle food grade DE on the floors of the coop and enclosed run and cover with fresh pine shavings in the sleeping area and sand in the run.  I finish up with some sprigs of fresh if I have them, or dried herbs such as a combination of mint, lavender, oregano, thyme or rosemary.

herbs

Although I have never had a sick chicken we keep the former Cluck Inn coop as a quarantine area, and I would not hesitate to bring a sick chick into the house and keep in our chicken ‘pack and play’ while recuperating.

I have also never had an injured or wounded chicken but recommend keeping an antibiotic powder on hand, as well as a super glue product to close wounds,  Neosporin or other antibacterial cream (make sure it does not contain pain relievers), splinting items in case of a broken leg and BluKot to keep the other chicks from pecking at an injury.  A supply of roll gauze or other lightweight ‘wrap’ type bandages could come in handy.   Again I would quarantine an injured chicken in the small coop or in the house depending on the severity and amount of watching they would need.

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 Vaseline, Preparation H, vitamin and calcium supplements, Epson salts for soaking as well as bandages, clean washcloths, gloves (for you) and an eye dropper for administering water and/or medications should also be in your coop medicine cabinet

Some people bring random stool samples to their vet once or twice a year to check for worms.  Once worms are visible in their poop they have a pretty severe infestation.

Pumpkin seeds will not get rid of a worm infestation but will help prevent one.  Chickens LOVE pumpkin seeds – buy a pumpkin, cut it in half and let them have at it!

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A dust bath in a small kiddy pool filled with sand, ashes, and some DE will be enjoyed by your chickens and also will get rid of mites or lice.  If your chickens continue to pick and scratch you can go to your Farm Supply store or order remedies on line.

dust bath

Remember that some medications given to your hens will require you to discard the eggs for a period of time.

When all is said and done, keeping healthy chickens is no more work that a cat or dog and can even provide entertainment!  Healthy chickens provide healthy eggs so you are rewarded in a very tangible way!

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What have you done to nurse a sick or injured chicken and how do you keep your gals healthy?  Comment and share your knowledge!

A Few Goofy Ideas:

It’s winter and there is not much going on.

I am bored and so are the chickens.

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 So I made them a ‘treat’ to keep them occupied during these cold damp days when they prefer to stay huddled in the coop.  I used my suet hanger.   I put several slices of a yummy whole grain-cranberry-walnut bread inside and I sandwiched in slices of deli turkey that I had in my fridge.  I think they will like the combination of fruit, nuts, grain and protein.

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 I hung it in the coop.  I wonder if they will like it?

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We shall see!

 My other hair-brained idea struck the other night.

 Awhile back I was doing some preholiday shopping at Costco with my DIL Sarah when I saw a box of different sized ‘fake’ (flameless) candles at a great price.  I wanted some tea lights for my Christmas decorations and I have also been wanting the pillars but have always found them to be pricey.  Well the price was right and besides tea lights, the box contained 3 pillars.

I LOVE that the pillars work on AA batteries AND have a timer.  The timer is a simple one, you simply turn the pillars on at a certain time and they will stay on for 5 hours and then turn off.  They will relight every day at the same time.

 I set them to go on at sunset and placed one in each dinning room window.

They are so cute.  It’s magical the way they just pop on!

Then I got to thinking…….. (Oh-oh!)

idea

…………….a bit of supplemental light in the coop might mean more eggs.  I read that it doesn’t take much.

I only have one outdoor outlet and it is ‘taken’ by the coop water warmers.  But since the pillars run on battery power……….

AND have a timer……….

Well you get it!

alarm

 I set my alarm for 4:15 am so I could set the timers.  Now if you know me you would know I must really love my chickens because I don’t do mornings!

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Anyway……..

I set the pillars to go on 15 minutes apart starting at 4:15.  They will stay on for 5 hours which will be well past sunrise.

I am thinking that even just the soft glow from the pillars might get me a few more eggs during these short winter days.

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I have been averaging 0 to 1 egg a day since mid November.  I wonder if it will work?

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We shall see!

What have you been doing to keep from getting bored during the post holiday winter days?

Comment and let me know!

Some Pictures and Thoughts About My Garden and Chickens.

When the leaves dropped and the garden got cleaned up in the fall I kinda like the way things looked.

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Last summer my flower garden was a bit…. well…. busy.  I was freaking about all the empty holes my ‘just started’ perennials would leave in the flower beds so I decided to fill in with zinnias.

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They went wild.

They are wonderful plants, butterflies love them and they are so colorful and pretty.  However – Note to Self:  Next year fewer will be just fine, plant them in a few clumps and plant them in the back of the flower bed.

I have some ornamental grass in my perennial beds that I never even saw last summer because the zinnias hid it.

I’m thinking all pink annuals next year – What do you think???

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This is the lot behind my house.

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Nobody uses it EVER.  I sorta feel like it is mine.    This past fall I decided to cut back the weeds and put down my raked leaves in a thick layer. (It will be a good weed barrier and also saves me from buying yard waste bags for my leaves 🙂 ).

 My plan for next year is to keep the weeds back from my fence about 3 feet.  I want to plant ‘extra’ perennials there as I’m able.  I have already put in a few iris and day lilies.

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Next spring I will put in some of my ground cover sedum,  and plant a few clumps of my canna lilies.

I think I will have enough, don’t you?

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My Canna lily tubers ready for storage.

In the summer when the trees are leafed out it looks like I have woods behind my house

Behind the trees is a grassy field and behind that the parking lot to the local grocery store.  My dentist’s office, the place where I get my hair cut, a few other shops AND a fitness club are also in the little strip mall there.

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There is a path behind my house that I can use as a short cut!

Just reminding you how urban I really am.

It sure looks just like country with chicks scratching around doesn’t it?

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They love that I let them free range in the garden during the fall, winter and early spring.

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They can be so naughty though.  It took Sally less than 20 minutes to dig these holes!

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But I love them to pieces anyway.

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My sweet Brew-brew!

They aren’t going out so much these cold days but maybe they are dreaming of spring and summer to come as I am!

Leave a comment and tell me about your garden and chicks and your plans for spring.

Winter Chicken Keeping

Last winter was a doozey but our chooks were cozy and did just fine. 

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The original ‘Cluck In’ is a small coop, the 4 gals were as cozy as can be all packed together at night on their roosting perch. Their body heat kept them warm.

The coop only had one small window which has a sliding door that I left half open for ventilation on all but the coldest days/nights.  It also had a sliding door that opened to their run but we never closed this door.  Instead I took an old throw rug and made 2 curtain-like ‘flaps’ to keep out cold drafts.  The girls could push their way in and out.

We weather-stripped around the clean-out door and wrapped the nest box in a quilted movers tarp (we wrapped in such a way that we could still open it for egg retrieval). We threw more tarps over the roof.    Straw bales were stacked around half of the run, and  thick plastic was wrapped  around the rest of it.  I put an extra deep layer of pine shavings in the coop and of straw in the run.  I used a modified ‘deep litter’ method of cleaning the coop, I picked up the biggest poop piles from under the roosting perch and tossed in extra shavings every few days.

2013 christmas coop

This pic shows the plastic over the open sides of the run (we added more later) as well as tarps over the roof.

I wouldn’t change a thing, I feel like our winter prep was better than adequate.

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This pic is inside the run area of the coop. You can see the plastic over the open areas and thick straw on the floor. The gals look pretty cozy!

This year their coop is larger and the six of them will have to huddle quite a bit to keep warm.  There are 2 large windows that were originally covered only with hardware cloth.  I knew we would need to add a covering for cold weather that would keep the wind and cold air out.  I still  wanted to let natural light in so shutters were not the answer.  I was thinking we could make a plexiglass sliding window over the opening.

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The window needed a way to be closed off.

Amazingly while checking the Craigslist free page I saw that someone was giving away glass cabinet doors.  They had been removed  from a camper and even had the hinges.  I could not believe what a perfect fit they turned out to be, and so pretty too!

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Now we can close out the cold winter wind.

   I already wrapped the run area of the coop with plastic and will stack straw bales on at least one side of the run as a wind break.

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This shows the back of the coop. Just in time for the polar vortex arrival!

 Note:  you never want to wrap it so tightly that there is not some ventilation.  This could be toxic to the chickens. Also if humidity builds up in the coop it can contribute to frostbite.

 Like last winter I will add a thick layer of straw in their run area and I will again put a thicker layer of pine shavings in the sleeping area.

We will again use our Christmas tin water heater to keep the water from freezing.

Here is a link to instructions on how to make one:

We loved giving our gals warm corn in the evening before they went to roost.  It is a treat they gobbled up like candy and I read that it keeps them warmer to have a warm meal in their crops at bedtime.

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I buy lettuce, parsley and other greens to supplement their winter diets and also go to Pet Smart for a weekly treat of crickets or live mealworms – the Prime Rib of chickendom!  They get dried mealworms and scratch grains for a winter treat as well.  I have also found that my gals love dried cranberries!

 I just love to spoil my gals and  the eggs are richer in Omegas and other nutrients if their diet includes natural things like insects and greens.

 Adding supplemental light to keep up egg production is your choice.  I don’t do it, we just eat fewer eggs in the winter.  Contrary to some peoples’ belief,  supplemental light will not harm them or cause them to stop laying at a younger age. Supplemental light should be added in the beginning of the day, never after sunset.

Never, never add supplemental heat to your coop,  It is dangerous and is not needed.

  Winter chicken keeping does not have to be a daunting task.  Keep them out of the wind, clean and with fresh water and they will survive.

Or you could always knit them sweaters.

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Here is a link with the pattern!

 chickens.http://crafts.squidoo.com/five-reasons-to-knit-chicken-sweaters

  Getting outside in the cold weather is invigorating and brings you close to nature during a time of year when you usually wouldn’t go out as much.  I loved my winter chicken keeping last year as I alternately felt like a ‘real’ farmer instead of just an urban one, but also felt grateful that I could go back inside,  out of the cold after just a few minutes of chicken care and egg gathering!

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Maybe someday? But URBAN farming is my life for now!

Let me know how you ‘winterize’ your chickens.

Summer Update and a Couple of Recipes:

We made it back from LOTO happy, well fed and tired.

Nope, the chickens did not miss me and I don’t think the dogs and kitties did either.  Roxanne did a great job.  I was not able to text her several times a day in my usual OC way because after we were already on our way to MO I realized that I DID NOT HAVE HER NUMBER IN MY PHONE!!!!

Seriously??!!

I have only called her on my land line and did not have her number stored in my cell phone.

Arrrrggggghhhh!

freak easy1

 I had left my number for her to use if there were any problems and I assured myself that everything would be ok.  That did not stop me from laying awake early the first morning thinking thoughts like:  “What if she thought we were leaving on Friday not Thursday?  What if she thought we were going NEXT week not this one?”

I soon pushed those thoughts out of my mind – nothing I could do about it anyway – and had fun!

My worries were for nothing – as worries usually are.  The place looked great when we returned,  and all the critters were very well cared for.

My dog Rusty fell in love with her.

rusty I sure hope Roxanne wants to sit for my critters again next year.

The garden continues to do wonderfully well.  We have had tons of delicious green beans and many cucumbers.  I ate my fill of lettuce and once it bolted I used it to feed the chickens.  My tiny gourmet carrots were cute but not worth doing again in my opinion.

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They are a small, round variety. They got only slightly bigger than this.

We are eating cucumber salad almost every day – Ah summer!

I have quite a few zucchini from my 2 plants.  While we were away a couple of them got HUGE!   They will be fine for stuffing.

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The tomatoes are ripening , we are really enjoying the Black Krim tomatoes grown from seeds I saved 2 years ago!  Delicious!  If you have not grown this variety of Heirloom tomato you are missing a treat!

krim

My very favorite tomato variety is called Hillbilly.  It is soooooooooooooooo good!

 hill

2014garden

A day’s harvest!

 Here are a couple of recipes that are summer life savers:

Marinated Cucumbers

cuke

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vinegar

(I like a combination of white and rice wine vinegar)

fresh dill

salt and pepper to taste

very thin cucumber slices (about 2 medium cucumbers)

thin sliced onion (about 1/4 onion or to taste)

 pinch of red pepper flakes (if you like things zippy)

Warm up the vinegar and water enough to easily dissolve the sugar.  Let cool a bit.  Throw in the  cucumber slices and as much onion as you like, a few snips of dill, salt, pepper and the pepper flakes if you want them. Let marinade for at least 2 hours.   Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread with Walnuts

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3 cups flour – can use part whole wheat if you like

1 3/4 cups of sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup chopped walnuts ( optional)

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, all wet ingredients in another then combine. Pour into a greased Bundt pan and bake for 60 – 70 minutes at 350 degrees. (or in 2 loaf pans and bake for 1 hour).

 Cool, slice and YUM!

Let me know how your garden is doing and please share any recipes you have that will help use up a bumper crop of zucchini!

 

 

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