New Floors

Five years ago this week, I was on the verge of becoming a new chicken Mom. I didn’t realize it at the time. Or I did. You see, we had ordered twenty-five Rhode Island Red chicks as a straight run from our local Tractor Supply. But chick-fever is a real thing and our baby RiRs would not be there until May. Every trip to Tractor Supply included hovering over the metal bins of peeping chicks and talking to them. Calling them ‘babies!’ and wishing I could bring some home.

Then, in the second week of April, after a day spent flying kites with our kids, somehow, we decided to just go to Tractor Supply and get chicks now.

We came back with twenty sex-linked chicks in a box. Seventeen little yellow roosters and three brown/yellow baby pullets. We didn’t know that at the time. My Dude, who is no longer little, picked them because they were cute. Who knew they’d be boys?

While they grew up quickly in our brooder box and I just as quickly researched chickens, breeds and other things, my wonderful DH built our coop out of raw materials my father had lying around the barn. Every year since, it has undergone minor changes. When the RiRs finally arrived, we kept them in the brooder until they fairly out grew it and then spent and agonizing week trying to integrate without a bloody massacre occurring.

And with Gold Boy and his rowdy crew, we certainly almost had a bloody massacre.

The following year we added 18 new pullets, and split the coop in two, and then removed the divide once they intergrated. I’ve since discovered easier ways of intergration… and letting hens raise babies inside the coop with the flock rather than buying chicks and risk fighting.

One year we added new perches and removed some unused nesting boxes.

And this year … After five years, we have given the coop new floors. It was time. They’re wooden and five years of water and deep bedding, the first winter with the ducks… the floors had been patched and patched again. It was just time.

Normally, I clean the deep bedding twice a year. In the Spring and in the Autumn. So we counted this as the Spring clean-out. My Dude and I took out eight wheelbarrow loads of bedding, which went on the garden beds. It will need tilled under and will set until next month when I’m ready to plant.

The ducks especially liked the burn pile. I’m not sure why, but I have long ago stopped trying to understand them.

The others hung out outside, and the roosters (we have eight right now, until I decide which four are going to Freezer Camp) sounded the alarm at any unusual noises coming from the coop.

And there it is – a brand new floor made out of recycled pallet boards and happy chickens.

It’s October, Already?

I’m honestly not sure where August and September when. One minute, I’m helping Little Dude with his 4-H projects and the next minute, school is starting, then both my children had their sport seasons start AND the garden started booming.

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These pictures are from last week.  The green beans are still flowering and still producing.   The carrots are doing well, too.  I’ve been slowly harvesting them, cutting into cubes and freezing for soups and stuff over the winter.

The cabbages did well.  I harvested, and discovered that if I left the plant in the ground rather than did the roots up, they will start growing a new head.  I don’t think any of them will be big enough to harvest before frost, but the chickens might enjoy them?

I had decent luck with the broccoli, too.  I need to check them again, but I suspect they will slow down eventually.

I’m waiting to harvest the potatoes and sweet potato. Also, the brussel sprouts, which I’m not sure what to do with.  I’ll probably Youtube “how to harvest brussells sprouts” soon.

Over all, I’m very proud of my experimental garden.  I’m already planning for next year.

Dad’s tomatoes, though… those things were the best.  So far, we’ve done over 30 quarts of whole tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, home made ketchup (first time ever), salsa, chili and home made tomato soup (also a first time ever).  The soup and ketchup were my idea and I can just say — yum!!!

 

And, of course, since this is my ‘chicken blog’ I have to talk about the chickens.  🙂

I have a lot of videos and kooky pics up on my Instagram.

The older ladies and Dots are all in various stages of molting.  Some of them look rougher than others.  Some of them (Abby, for example) barely looking like they’ve lost any feathers at all.  But the over abundance of feathers everywhere is a testament that they are molting.

When does this end?  Winter is fast approaching and I’m looking at my semi-balding birds and thinking “they will freeze!”  And “I can’t knit so so no chicken sweaters!”  Especially not for 30+ birds.

Actually, I am NOT an advocate of chicken sweaters.  They are bad for our birds.  Cute, but bad.  Just say no. Okay?

All the babies are getting bigger.

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Dani and Eugenie.

 

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Pavel or… Pavelle … or who, I have been assured by someone on Instagram is, in fact, a pretty little girl.  🙂  She’s sweet and intelligent and loves to ride on my shoulder and ‘talk’ to me.

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“Esther” who is NOT a girl, but a handsome little cockerel.  I’m torn between renaming him Eddie or simply shortening Esther to Es.

I’m in the process of negotiating with my DH to let me keep him, along with Dots and Pip.  We have enough hens to justify three roosters and Esther is the low boy on the totem pole.  He might fit in just fine.   Plus,I read somewhere that an Easter Egger + a brown-egg layer will produce Olive egg layers.  IF  Es were to mate and I were to hatch those babies, I could potential have olive green eggs some day?

DH is thinking about it.  He wants Easter Eggers.  Es is our only survivor.  It could happen.

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The Sulmtaler Brothers.  I call them Sumi and Taller.  I shouldn’t name them.  If I can’t sell them, they are off to Freezer Camp by the end of November.  But they’re so cute.  And Sumi crows better than Dani does!

The chocolate orps (whom I have no pictures of because they won’t hold still for me) are boy & girl.  The little roo, I call Snickers.  He’s cocky and I think he’s been trying to establish dominance over Sumi.  They’ve been squabbling.   He also tried to mate with an Australorp yesterday. I wish I’d gotten a video of that because she went off on him, claws up and everything.  All the rest of my hens are pretty docile so I’ve never seen that happen before.

The hen is Hershey.  She is sweet, but standoff-ish.  She likes her privacy.

 

 

As the instagram caption says, Stacey as has been acting weird.  She paces the coop ALL DAY.  Always.  It looks like she’s looking for a nest box, but she never gets in one.  I don’t know what’s actually going on and Google is not my friend.

This is Ashley. Aka Ashe… some of you may remember Ashe was the little Australorp who kept the injured Baby company when they were chicks.   She is going to be a momma in about 2 1/2 weeks.  🙂  It will probably be my last Broody of the year, as winter is approaching.

What’s a Farm Without a Garden?

You’ve heard me go on and on about the chickens, chicks, eggs and everything feathered and cheeping.  This is a ‘chicken blog’ after all.  But I’ve spent very little time talking about the experimental garden we planted this year.

I think I made one post earlier here… or it might have been on Instagram.

Anyway… my DH built me two garden plots out of old railroad ties and filled in with top soil.  I wanted something a little taller, so I wouldn’t have to bend as much to weed and stuff but the whole concept of a raised garden is lost on him in someways.  This was close to what I wanted, though.

We planted green bean bushes and carrots in one plot and then an experimental plot with things my children like to eat – Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, celery, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The summer has been so-so.  Not enough rain and too many hot days.  The celery is iffy and only one broccoli is doing anything worth talking about.  The cabbage and Brussels sprouts are flourishing, though, as are the green beans.

 

The carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes are all on a wait-and-see basis.  I’ll let you know how they turn out – if they turn out – when the time comes.