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?

New and Improved Asparagus Bed!

After doing more reading I realized the six asparagus crowns I planted would be not much more than an appetizer for our asparagus loving family.  I seriously needed to plant MORE!

But where?

As most good ideas do it came to me in the middle of the night.  (Everyone wakes up at 4 am with gardening on their mind, right?)

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Anyway it came to me.

  THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN! 

Well not IN the butterfly garden.  I could MOVE the butterfly garden.  I could move it to the back of the garden flower bed.  The one I call my ‘formal’ flower bed.

Formal – poo – I want asparagus!

So I went to work moving the plants in my butterfly garden.  Most were big enough to divide so I did that too.  I tried to place them where I thought the color combinations and heights would look best but to tell you the truth in some cases I did not even know what some of them were because some of my garden markers blew over.   (OK, they didn’t so much blow over as got ‘picked’ by a certain little pint sized garden helper).

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It is going to be AWESOME!

 

I am super excited though because the bed is a lot more densely planted which means fewer weeds and it will be a RIOT of flowers




I am also super excited about the NEW AND IMPROVED ASPARAGUS BED.

 We  prepared the trench, added sand for drainage, compost for nutrients, and bone meal for root growth.

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We put in 35 asparagus crowns.  That should keep us in plenty of asparagus for the rest of our lives!  ❤

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If you have an unused part of lawn, like maybe over by your fence, and you buy asparagus to eat each spring, you should probably put in an asparagus bed!

Go on, DO IT!

A few other spring updates:

Peas, lettuce, onions, radishes and carrots are up in the garden.My indoor seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, okra, cabbage and marigolds are getting big.

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I can’t wait to get these outside!

The honeysuckle vine more than doubled in size before I finally got it planted outside and it is doing well.  All fruit trees including the new and old Paw Paws have leaves.

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Leaves on the new PawPaw.

 Best of all – the Wisteria LIVES!

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I ❤ Wisteria!

It’s not gardening but I have to brag – this week my granddaughter Haley qualified for the Olympics in Womens’ Freestyle Wrestling!  She is Rio bound!

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 How are things in your spring garden?

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.

SECURE

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’:

CHUNNEL

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.

SWING

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.

chicken love

I never get tired of seeing this!

 

NOW GO ON OUT AND ENJOY SOME CHICKENS!

I Bought Even MORE Seeds!

Because my husband and I love Korean food!

OK, let me explain……

  Sadly, there is no Korean restaurant in Des Moines.

We eat at a great place in Iowa City whenever we are there.

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One of our favorites, Bibimbap in a Hot Stone bowl is AMAZING! The hot stone bowl causes the rice on the bottom to get a super delicious nutty brown crust.   The Huffington Post says it is one of 25 foods you must eat before you die!

The rest of the time we try to make our own and hubby is getting pretty good at it.

There is a Korean cooking show on The Cooking Channel called Korean Food Made Simple. We DVR it so we never miss an episode.  We have recently learned of dishes that are wrapped in a Sesame or a Perilla leaf and eaten like a wrap.

Marinated beef wrapped in lettuce and sesame leaf with miso past

 Soooooo – – –  – I had to get seeds and try to grow these plants!

Some interesting info on these leaves:

http://drbenkim.com/articles/sesame-health-benefits.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla

I found a neat seed company in CA called the Kitazawa Seed Company that carries seeds for many vegetables found in Asian cooking.  I ordered seeds for Sesame, Perrilla, Asian cabbage and Pickling Melons. Yum!

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Where I will plant these seeds I do not know.

 With everything I plan on planting this year I really don’t think I will have enough room in the existing garden.

 I thought about planting some veggies in my flower beds but since the bunnies devour everything not fenced in with netting that is not a good option.

I could dig up a bit more lawn and make the garden larger.

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Wow! Amazing!

I will have to think this over and see what I can come up with!

 

Any suggestions/words of encouragement are appreciated!

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I really do think  I might need an intervention!

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My (Second) Annual January Trip To Buy Seeds!

A few weeks ago I was sitting around wondering if it was too early to get seeds when a Facebook ‘memory’ popped up informing me I did exactly that one year ago.

So why not make it a January tradition?

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I don’t do well in the winter.  Call it SAD, call it cabin fever, call me deranged.  Whatever.  I just get grumpy, sluggish, overly obsessed with the weather and just plain no fun at all.

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  It begins with daylight savings time and doesn’t go away until I can go outside and dig in the dirt.

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Sure,  I put on a happy face throughout the holidays, I find winter projects and try to exercise, get outside, socialize more (even though I don’t really feel like it) and all the other things the ‘experts’ recommend.  I tell myself that all we really have is the here and now and to live in the moment.  But my garden-dreaming self doesn’t listen.

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Ahhhhhhhhh…..I’m sooooooooooooo ready!

 

 It’s insane how happy a seed catalogue or gardening magazine arriving in the mail makes me.

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Oh Yay!

 

I take trips to the Botanical center or garden store just to smell the plants and soil!

I am counting the days ’til spring.

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So no, I don’t think January is too early to buy seeds.

  Not at all.

  It is better than being a kid in a candy store!

  Rows and rows and rows of vegetable and flower seeds and a dream of sunshine, dirty hands, good muscle aches and bone weariness at the end of the day with a great night’s sleep to follow.  For a gardener, starting a garden in spring is one of the best things to happen all year.

I mean it is really, really good!

Remember my post of last year where I said I might reduce the size of my garden?  It was called “Putting the Yard Back In The Backyard Farm” or some such nonsense.  Well forget it.  I must have temporarily lost my mind.

Here is a link to that silly post in case you missed it:

https://ruthschickens.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/i-am-thinking-of-putting-the-yard-back-into-the-backyard-farm/

Now I am trying to think of how I can expand it even more.  Would we miss it if I took just a bit more of my backyard lawn to put in an asparagus bed?  Could I squeeze in a few more fruit trees?  Perhaps it is time to expand to the front yard?  Where will I put some Rhubarb?  Do I have room for Jerusalem artichokes?

I have marked my calendar with the dates I will plant my onions, lettuce, cucumbers, squash  and carrots (yep, I’m trying them again this year) outside,

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and start my tomatoes, peppers and okra (first time ever growing okra) inside.

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Of course I am doing green beans and cabbage and this year I wont forget to put in a few Brussels sprout plants for fall dinners. (I really missed them last year).  I want tons and tons of sweet peppers this year and some spaghetti squash and zucchini.

I also bought some Morning Glory seeds – wont they look great climbing up the fence?  I wonder if the chickens would leave them alone if I planted them on the fence around their pen?  (What am I thinking, of course they WONT!).

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 I read somewhere that you can plant morning glories in hanging baskets and they will trail downward.  I have to give that a try.

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I also got my Zinnia seeds.  Well ya never know, the store could run out.

Look out bunnies – I am winning the war this year.  You don’t stand a chance!

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I am  excited, happy and hopeful and that’s saying a lot for me in January!

I highly recommend a visit to your local garden store for some seeds.  Get to planning your garden, you wont be sorry!

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Comment and let me know what you plan on growing this year.

 

—-

New Chickens – 2015!

WE GOT OUR CHICKS!  WE GOT OUR CHICKS!  WE GOT OUR CHICKS!

Ear to ear smiles are going on around here!

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We were supposed to get them last week but sadly the bad weather on the east coast left more than 60,000 chicks STRANDED  in Memphis.  Our feed store, along with many others, did not get their shipment.

We were disappointed to say the least.

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And so a new countdown began.

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The time went fast, mostly because 2 days of it were ‘lost’ to a stomach virus, with supsequent days spent recovering and working.  Yes, I know, it IS hard to do both at the same time.  But ya know how it goes…… gotta buy that chicken feed!

Finally, a work week completed, a three day weekend begun, glorious weather cooperating and the feed store got the chicks!

All is right with the world!

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We got our Iowa Blue, our Rhode Island Red, what a cute little orange puff ball she is, and what else???? They have White Leghorns????

They didn’t tell me they were getting White Leghorns!

  I don’t have a White Leghorn.

Aren’t they the ones called egg-laying machines?  It WOULD be nice to have some white eggs mixed in our egg basket.

It’s only one more chick……

CHICKEN MATH STRIKES AGAIN!

Meet Ivy, Florence and Lily:

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This is Ivy,

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Florence

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Lily

 

 

I wrote about the Iowa Blue chicken in my last post.

Rhode Island Reds are very nice chickens too.  In fact the state of Rhode Island thought enough of them that they made them their state bird.  They have good temperaments and are good layers of brown eggs.

White Leghorns are the typical ‘factory farm’ chicken.  They are excellent year round egg layers and take to confinement and smaller spaces well.

The Iowa grandkids have already been over to see them.

carter with chicks

Carter checking out the baby ‘Bawk-bucks’.

The Illinois grandkids have pictures.

There is a whole lot of peeping going on around here!

They are happy and cozy under the new Brinsea EcoGlow radiant warmer for chicks that just happened to arrive Friday,  (as promised 2 day shipping).  After a ‘near miss’ with the heat lamp last year I think it is worth every penny to have peace of mind with the radiant warmer.  (NO, I don’t receive any compensation for plugging it)

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What’s up chicken butt?

You can read about why a radiant heater is better than a heat lamp here:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/brooder-safety-fear-heat-lamp.html

 I AM SO HAPPY WITH MY BACKYARD FLOCK!

My daughter says I need Chickens Anonymous but I don’t want to be cured!

  I now have a Buff Orpington, 2 White Orpingtons, a Barred Plymouth Rock, an Ameracauna, and a Black Sex Link as well as my new gals, the Iowa Blue, Rhode Island Red and White Leghorn.

I hope these adorable chick pics will inspire even one more person to start a backyard flock.  Chickens deserve to be in happy backyards, not in factory egg farms and YOU deserve to have the freshest and best eggs EVER!

Before there were chickens……

I did other things.

  One of those things was make soaps and herbal/aromatherapy products.

I know the blog title is Ruth’s Chickens but chickens = urban farming,  urban farming is sorta like homesteading and homesteading means making your own things and being somewhat natural.

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At least to me it does.

So today I am going to blog about one of my other passions besides gardening and my chickens.

That passion is soapmaking.

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It started back in the mid ’90’s when I discovered all natural soap from a small company started by a woman named Sandy Maine, called The Sunfeather Soap Company.

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  I thought,  ‘I’d like to do this’ and I bought Sandy’s book and some other great books on soapmaking.

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Soon making soap became an obsession!  I had a small shop that I named Addie’s Herb Garden and I sold my soap and other natural products and crafts.

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The store did not remain open very long but I continued to sell soap by word of mouth, at work and at craft fairs.  Soon though, it seemed EVERYONE was making and selling handmade soap.  My interest dwindled and I only made a few batches a year for our own use and to give as gifts.

Recently there has been a rebirth of interest in essential oils.  I am thrilled that the younger gals at work are interested in natural products and aromatherapy and they are surprised that I have known about and used essential oils and herbs for almost 20 years.

Some of my coworkers who worked with me in the ’90’s have been asking when I will make soap again.

So I have recently started back with a BANG!

soap

Soapmaking is a centuries old craft but things have sure changed in recent times!  A younger, new breed of soapmaker has taken it over the top.  There are new books, You Tube videos and blogs on the subject.  Some of the old rules have gone out the window and things like infa-red instant-read thermometers, and stick blenders have turned a process that used to take hours into one that can be done in minutes.

I have returned to my old favorite recipes using only pure essential oils for fragrance and herbs and other botanicals for color but have also given artificial colors and fragrance oils a try.  I think my niche will always be all natural but I also will do an occasional ‘fun’ experiment as well, such as my bright green cucumber melon that I tried to make in a pvc pipe!

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I remelted it in my crockpot.

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Great idea to make soap discs in a pvc pipe mold.

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I couldn’t get it out no matter what I tried! I finally had to dig it out.

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I formed it into ‘melon’ balls!

 

Today I did a batch of what I think will be the best face soap ever made.

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It’s made with super rich oils and my ‘Renew’ face nourishing serum. I can’t wait for it to finish curing!

I am so thrilled to be back at it and hope to bring in extra income when I ever retire. It will be an exciting journey and I hope you will enjoy joining me!

 Yesterday I went to a craft fair for ‘research’.  (I know, it’s tough work!).

I think I will fit in just fine.

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This post is not an advertisement for my stuff but if you are interested in my natural products I have a Facebook page called Addie’s Herb Garden.  I don’t have a web page but perhaps I will figure out how to do that one of these years.

Next week back to chickens and I hope to have pics of our new chicks!

The Chicks Are Coming, The Chicks Are Coming!

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I was in the feed store the other day and asked the guy when they would be getting the baby chicks in and he said the first week of March.

Whoo Hooo – that’s just a couple weeks away!

Spring IS coming!

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Doing my ‘Happy Dance!’

I can’t wait to get my new baby chicks!

  He said they would be getting Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps, Ameracaunas, and Iowa Blues.

I plan on adding two new chicks to my flock and one of them will be an Iowa Blue.

iowa blue

The Iowa Blue breed of chicken has an interesting history.  According to one story the breed began in the early 1900’s on a farm near Decorah, Iowa, owned by a man named John Logsdon.  Folklore says that one of his White Plymouth Rock hens disappeared for a while.  When she reappeard from under a building she was with a bunch of chestnut colored chicks.  They grew up to be the Iowa Blue.  Word went around that they were sired by a pheasant.

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Iowa Blue chicks

A more believable story says that John Logsdon developed the breed because he wanted a breed of chicken that could survive the frigid Iowa winters yet also do well in the hot humid summers, plus be a good forager.

The breed was popular locally but by the 1960’s was all but extinct due to the local hatcheries closing down when industrialized farming drove many small farmers out of business.

In 1989 Kent Wheatley,  the same man who co-founded The Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, heard about this rare breed and decided to save them.  There was only one small fertile flock left at that time, owned by a man named Ransome Bolsom.  He gave fertile eggs to Mr. Wheatly who maintained a small flock at the Seed Savers farm and also distributed some Blue’s to others.

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The Seed Savers Exchange Farm in Decorah, Iowa

For more info on Seed Savers Exchange:

http://www.seedsavers.org/

  By the late 1990’s they were again in decline.  One man named Glenn Drowns maintained a flock at the Sandhill Preservation Center in Calamus, Iowa until in 2012 a group of people decided to save the breed and an Iowa Blue Club was formed.  The breed is now making a successful comeback and the numbers are increasing.

Iowa Blues are not blue but are have a silvery head and a brown or black body with white lacing.  The chicks resemble pheasants.  They are good layers of light brown eggs and have been called the ‘champs of bug control’ because of their good foraging ability.

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Iowa Blue Hens and a Roo.

For more information on this plucky breed of chicken:

http://www.iowabluechickenclub.com/

I am so excited to be getting an Iowa Blue chick!  I am going to name her Ivy.

Backyard Chickens – Pets or Livestock?

In other words, should we eat them?

When they stop laying that is.

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This is a discussion my husband and I were having the other day.

I know ‘real’ farmers would not hesitate to get rid of any chickens that are past laying age.  Feeding them costs money, there is only space for so many and so they must earn their keep by being productive.

It isn’t as if we don’t already eat chicken.  We do.  So isn’t it a bit hypocritical to balk at killing and eating our own chickens yet be ok with some other chicken being raised in deplorable conditions and then killed for our dinner?  At least our chickens will be happy until the day they die AND we will also know what they ate.

Wouldn’t it be better to eat our chickens knowing they lived and died humanely?  They were happy up until the end?  They will be spared getting old and sick?

They wont know what is going on.

  They don’t think about such things do they?

But we do.

We think about it and overthink about it.

  Could we do it?  Well not actually ‘do’ it.  In an open, urban backyard in plain sight of neighbors there will be no killing, plucking or other processing going on.

The birds will simply go to ‘freezer camp’  as they say.   There are farmers in the area who will do the ‘processing’ for a reasonable price.

chicken in the pot

Another backyard chicken owner who has no qualms about ‘culling’ non-productive hens says they wait a month or so before serving one of their own to put a little distance between them.  Whatever gets you through the day I guess.

Oh come on now – that chicken you eat is a DEAD, formerly ALIVE chicken you know.

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  Unless you are a vegetarian don’t go getting all righteous on me!

Well the difference is that it would be Brewster, Martha, Sally and Riot.

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Our beautiful and first girls.  They are so special.   We love them.

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But it is the way of farm life.  If my 4 older gals are not laying this summer a decision will need to be made.  I imagine we would pack them up in a tote, give them a special treat of mealworms and dried cranberries and drive them to their destiny.

Well maybe I need to think on this a bit more.  People don’t eat their pets.

Are my chickens pets or livestock?

 

Keeping Chickens Healthy.

aid

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)

knock

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.

vet

 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!

pumpkin

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!

egg

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

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