Chicken and Garden Report

Baby goes outside! One day I looked out my window (whenever I am near the studio or kitchen window I always look out to see what’s going on in the chicken yard.) I was SO SURPRISED and excited to see Baby out in the yard. She seemed to be enjoying herself, running here and there with her little hitch, checking out the greens I had thrown out there, and mixing in with the big girls. So far she has not gotten picked on–you know, the pecking order. I have a feeling she will know to just stay out of the way. She also has a couple of “friends” who seem to stick close by. And of course, she didn’t know to go back into the house at night. It was so cute–one of the buff orpingtons had settled down next to her in the yard. Anyway, got them back inside and all was well. I think it was maybe a little overwhelming, because she hasn’t gone back outside since then…

DSCN5695

DSCN5701

Another day I looked outside and there was something very large and brown standing on top of the bird netting that MLG had put across the top of the chicken yard. I ran outside–it was a HUGE hawk, who was not at all afraid of me, and was bouncing up and down on the netting to try to get in! I was SOOOO glad that I had had MLG put that netting in place. He did a very secure job. If I had done it myself, it might have been much easier for Mr. Hawk to get inside! He hasn’t been back since then, so fingers crossed that he thinks its a lost cause.

Here is the view of the garden that I enjoy when I sit on my fake patio.

DSCN5713

The volunteer petunias have returned, although a much smaller batch of them. along with some weeds…

DSCN5714

Phlox.

DSCN5720

Most of the oriental lilies came back. I had kind of forgotten about them, so that was a nice surprise.

DSCN5718

Mr. Bougainvillea is doing very well, and I love having it.

DSCN5722

Close-up. Aren’t those little white centers a beautiful detail?

DSCN5725

The Jackson Perkins rose that I complained about last year. It is doing very well, and I do love the color and the smell of it.

DSCN5715

The hydrangeas are doing well, but I’m a little stumped as to why the flower clusters are so small.

DSCN5719

This is that rose that is grown on its own root stock. Its kind of wild and crazy. I think it might need a little fence support behind it next year. Lots of little blooms.

DSCN5710

And that’s the garden and report and chicken update for this week.

 

Chicks at Seven Weeks

DSCN5616

Well, its been a little over a week, and that is a long time in the life of a chicken! Here’s the latest report from the ladies.

Remember this one? Last week I captioned her picture “a very self-assured chicken.” Well, the day after I wrote that, I was out watching their antics, and “she” crowed. Yes, the first rooster has made an appearance. Dang. I only had one of these Spitzhaubens.

DSCN5628

This here has become a piece of prime property in the chicken coop for the past few days.

DSCN5599

This. This little scooped out place in the dirt is prime property.

DSCN5601

And this is why. Chickens love to take dust baths. I guess the dirt was just right there next to the automatic waterer I added this week. The waterer has a top to it that will hopefully keep out dirt, and for sure will keep out chicken you-know-what. I just wanted to make sure they knew it was their water before I put the big scary top on it.

DSCN5649

Whaddaya say? Whaddaya say? I bet the plain girls are so jealous of our fancy hairdos.

DSCN5613

You know how when you chop down a little oak tree more branches grow back? Yes. This is all that’s left of a pretty hefty clump of branches. The funniest thing they do is to jump up and grab a branch and then stand on it so they can peck at the leaves.

DSCN5614

They really like their new water dish. (I do too, as it  saves me a lot of time.) I believe that this is another rooster in the works. No crowing yet, but he’s got a bigger comb and fancier feathers than the other two Speckled Sussex.

DSCN5640

A good close-up:

DSCN5690

Hey what’s going on out there? Is it safe? Anybody? Anybody? Tell me its safe.

DSCN5619

DSCN5622

Hey, you were just inside the house. How did you get out here? (I was inside the henhouse and ran outside to get pictures of this one coming outside. I love the look on her face.)

DSCN5624

And the Baby report. Baby is the queen of the hen house. Because she stays inside and does not go outside yet. Today I held her up to the doorway, and she did seem very interested in what was happening out there. But I will let her decide when to go out. She is starting to get more real feathers now.

DSCN5658

DSCN5659

DSCN5663

Here she is in one of her little hidey holes.

DSCN5668

This is their new feeder. They seem to have adjusted to it fairly quickly.

DSCN5661

And there you have it. The chickens at 7 weeks of age. They still have to eat baby food for another three weeks. And only greens for a while longer. I can hardly wait to be able to give them watermelon and cantaloupe rinds–they LOVE them!

 

Chickens Move Outside!

I love my chickens, in case you couldn’t tell! I’m so happy I went ahead with this project. They provide a lot of enjoyment for me, just sitting outside watching their antics–chicken TV 🙂  They now look like little miniature chickens.

MLG came over Monday and helped (well, he did the whole thing) to put bird netting over the top of the chicken yard. I wasn’t worried about adult chickens, but the babies were still so small, I was worried that a hawk might decide they were easy pickin’.

So then we opened their little door to the yard. Nothin’. They are afraid of anything new. Later in the day, I carried four of them out to the yard. And threw four of them out their little door. Pretty soon others were curious. And now, four days later, they are LOVING their new yard. They scratch around in the dirt, run from one end to the other, check out anything moving, and eat any vegetation they can find (the planters of pansies I had put out there are stripped bare already.)

This morning I thought I would bring them some offerings from the garden. Oh boy–such excitement!

DSCN5535

DSCN5540

DSCN5549

DSCN5537

This one in the picture below has stayed out past her bedtime for the last two nights. Chickens automatically go back inside their house when it starts to get dark. They are blind, as far as I can tell, at night. So I’ve had to go and rescue this little girl before I close their little door each night.

DSCN5547

A very self-assured chicken:

DSCN5545

DSCN5542

Don’t panic. Its not a dead chicken. This is what they do to relax. They stretch out on their side in the sun.

DSCN5551

The same day, I had some leftover lettuce leaves. I decided to give it to the chicks that stay in the house. My favorite Baby is still going strong, and I was hoping she would get some of the lettuce. She has not ventured outside yet.

This was so fun–she grabbed a piece of lettuce and ran around like a crazy woman, going  to all her hidey-holes, and stopping once in a while to take a nibble. But mostly just running around 🙂

IMG_3427

IMG_3429

IMG_3430

And that’s the chicken report for this week. I keep saying I won’t post chicken news every week, but I can’t help it–they are just so darn cute!

Summertime!

DSCN5488

Glory be! Its HOT here! I just spent a couple of hours in the garden weeding and checking the watering system, and fixing the timer. Fun times. And here are my words of wisdom for you this week:

Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

DSCN5487

When its so hot its hard to work up any enthusiasm for going to the nursery, much less actually buying plants and bringing them home to try and keep them alive. So right now I’m more focused on garden equipment LOL. I got a new hose THAT IS AMAZING. I got so tired of the Costco “kinkless” hoses constantly kinking. So I asked Sallye at the garden center if she would order me a good hose. She ordered me the same hose that they use at their nursery, a Gilmore Super Duty Flexogen. It was expensive, but so worth it for the lack of frustrating kinks. And Sallye says it really lasts a long time.

DSCN5486

DSCN5485

The chicks are growing quickly in this heat. First I opened up the whole house to them. And then I turned their lamp off when it started getting so hot. They are almost fully feathered now, and look more like tiny bedraggled adult chickens. I watch them closely for signs of rooster behavior (I ordered all hens, but they don’t guarantee 100% accuracy.)

DSCN5491

That one that I claimed was a Rhode Island Red rooster the first week? That is my new best friend. So I’m hoping against hope that he is a hen 🙂 He comes running to the door when I open it, and enjoys hopping up on my hand and getting an aerial view of everything.

DSCN5493

They are fascinated by anything shiny, which I guess includes light spots.

DSCN5494

I was proud that I figured out how to build them a lower perch. And I found scraps of wood to make little steps for their ramp. They would climb up the ramp halfway and then slide back down.

DSCN5498

Of course, its always fun to find a higher spot to roost on…

DSCN5495

And they still do the same thing–“oh look, there’s something fascinating here, come look! come look!”

DSCN5503

And that’s how it goes around here. I am (literally) limping towards the finish line. I guess that’s a good thing. Because if it didn’t hurt to walk, I would probably back out of the knee surgery. They moved my pre-op appointment up a week. It will be good to get more answers to some of my questions.

 

The Chicks, Week 3

DSCN5456

At just three weeks of age, the chicks have entered that gawky teenage stage. That’s what I call it anyway. Feathers are coming in, but not all the way. there are still odd patches of down here and there. Just enough to make them look unkempt. Not so cute anymore. But they still provide me with hours of fun, just watching their antics.

DSCN5439

Look everybody! There’s something very interesting here.

Remember how all the chickens were trying to escape their yard in Chicken Run? That’s what my babies are like. constantly straining their necks to try to see over the top of the cardboard. They “fly” up to the top of the waterer and try to see over the top. They run and flap their wings.

And then this happened:

DSCN5428

Yes, one of them, well, actually several of them, made it to the top of their cardboard surround. So that made my decision a little easier. I HAD to let them out of their cardboard nursery, and out into the big world of the chicken coop.

I still have a cardboard barrier to keep them away from the door, but that will probably go tomorrow. One of them has already flown over the top of it.

DSCN5468

After they got over the shock of their world being made larger (there was lots of squawking and carrying on as I worked as quietly as I could to fix up the coop and take away the cardboard,) they were VERY interested in this big new world.

DSCN5471

They are endlessly interested in climbing the ramp (that will eventually allow them to go outside.)

DSCN5475

They still find “things” to be fascinated with, and they do love scratching in their pine shavings.

My favorite baby is still alive, and she eats and drinks regularly. She just isn’t growing as fast as the others.

DSCN5429

And that’s the chicken report for this week.

The Chicks Have Landed!!

My baby chicks were born on Monday morning in Ohio! I watched the online USPS tracking so carefully. I was much more nervous about these chicks than I was the last time I ordered them (probably more than 10 years ago.)

IMG_3339

Sure enough, right at 7am on Wednesday morning, I got the call from the post office–my chicks had arrived! I had already been up for several hours, and was dressed and ready to go out the door!

Back in the chicken coop, their light had already been on for a whole day, so their “brooder” was nice and warm. I took each one out, dipped its beak in the water dish, and showed them where their food was. Sadly, one little baby didn’t make it. But that is so much better than my imagination, where I thought that half of them would arrive dead! The box they came in had straw in the bottom, with one of those chemical warmers below it to keep them warm.

See that green stuff there? That’s called gro-gel. Its supposed to help them with electrolytes and hydration–hey, just like the gel things that runners use 🙂 They really liked it.

DSCN5152

Here is my favorite chick–that silvery grey one with feathers on her feet. I ordered some blue cochins. The color blue does not breed true in chickens–some will come out black, some blue, and some “splash”–a combo of black and white. In my imagination, she is the perfect blue cochin (cochins are the fluffy ones with feathers on their feet.)DSCN5154

This shot shows the two Polish chicks–they are the ones who have feather topknots when they grow up. You can see they already have funny little round crowns on their heads.

DSCN5158

I think they snuck in a Rhode Island Red Rooster on me. I ordered three New Hampshire Reds, which I think are a nicer bird–much calmer. This little guy is redder, and very bossy.

DSCN5155

The brown splotchy chicks are Speckled Sussex, and the kind of mottled beige/grey ones are Appenzeller Spitzhauben–the national chicken of Switzerland! They end up white with black dots on them.

DSCN5160

 

Its been a pretty intense couple of days. I run out and check on them numerous times a day. And honestly I just enjoy sitting there watching them. I brought one of my comfy patio chairs into the coop to sit on. Several of the chicks got “pasty butt.” Its just what you imagine. Their little poops turn to HARD PASTE, and then it glues their little bottom shut, and it can kill them. So all the books say to use a wet cloth to remove the paste. But it is really hard, and of course sticks to their down. I don’t like doing it, and kept thinking, if this was one of my neonatal babies, we’d put something on them to protect their little butts. Well, I called the company, and asked if there was anything else I could do for pasty butt, and guess what?! The lady said to put a little dab of vaseline on there. How about that? As of this morning, all the little pasty butts look like they are cured!

Yesterday we had one more fatality. I checked the chicks–all looked fine and lively,  and then left for a couple of hours to go to the gym and to get the all important vaseline. When I came home, one of the chicks wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t even one of the ones who had pasty butt. I tried to give it a little water, but it died shortly after. That is the way with chickens. Unfortunately, it was one of the more expensive chicks, and one I really wanted (well, LOL, I want all of them.) Anyway, it was one of the Copper Black Marans, which lay dark chocolate brown eggs. I still have two of them, and hopefully they will both make it.

And that’s the chicken report for today. I’m sure there will be another update soon 🙂

The Garden and the Chicken Coop

DSCN5061

Let’s start with some pansies! I got so tired of Noah (and now Chloe) eating all the pansies that I decided to haul this big pot outside the fenced yard. Better to feed the deer than be irritated at my dogs. I found a little piece of portable fencing to try to protect it from the deer. Within a few days, there were a million blooms!

DSCN5060

I am so happy that the lilac is blooming so well this year. Last summer MLG, with my direction, did quite a bit of pruning. They say that lilacs don’t particularly like pruning. I guess we did a good job!

DSCN5057

Most of the blooms are too high for me to touch, but this is the best its bloomed in years. I am happy.

DSCN5056

And now inside the yard and to the right. Those tall plants are the money plants. They are way taller than I thought they would be. Their blooms aren’t anything spectacular, but its nice to see blooms early in the season. I like the shape of the plants and the leaves are very pretty.

DSCN5041

Here’s a close-up of the fringed tulips in that bed.

DSCN5042

The flowering cherry is blooming.

DSCN5040

And the Japanese maples look so pretty when the leaves first come out.

DSCN5043

I can hardly wait for these foxgloves to bloom!

DSCN5045

Another view of more Japanese maples. You can see my car there, and a truck behind it.

DSCN5046

The truck belongs to J. the Contractor. Yes! The time finally arrived for the construction of the chicken coop. He and his helper were here for an entire week working on the house and yards! Here is the coop with the first yard that was built between the wood shed and the coop.

DSCN5051

Nest boxes can be accessed from the outside, and are built at just the right height for me–no need to bend over 🙂

DSCN5054

DSCN5055

Nest boxes from inside the coop. The rail in front can be removed for easy cleaning.

DSCN5050

And a little ramp for the chickens to get outside each morning. There is a sliding door (that I can close from outside) to keep them safe each night.

DSCN5049

I started worrying that the yard we planned would not be big enough for the chickens, so I asked J. to build a second yard behind the coop. Both yards are connected by a simple gate. You can see my house behind the coop, so you know where its located. I like that I will be able to look out my kitchen window and my studio windows and see the chickens.

DSCN5053

And I thought I’d end with a lovely neighborly story. My neighbor is a wonderful gardener. Over the years she has shared many vegetables with me. This year she planted a lot of tulips. And twice, before a big storm hit, she has gathered some tulips and brought me a beautiful bouquet.

DSCN5058

I wanted to show you the white interior of these dark tulips–so dramatic! Tulips last a long time in the house–who knew?!

DSCN5059