A Chicken and Garden Report

I am so happy. My plan is working. This year, I did not keep the lights on in the evening (so the chickens would keep laying eggs.) Of course, this means I only get 5-7 eggs a day from 22 chickens. BUT, I am happy because all of my chickens are starting to grow their feathers back. Here are some of them:

The white cochins:

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Both of the Black Copper Marans are in full feather:

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And they have finally started laying their dark brown eggs again:

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The Dominique:

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And one of the New Hampshire Reds:

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Both of the Speckled Sussex are coming back into full feather. They were really bald in the last chicken update I did.

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And the self-appointed queen of the yard. I don’t think she’s ever lost too many of her feathers. I’m not so sure she’s the queen. She might just be smart enough to stay away from the other chickens.

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Did I tell you that my apple tree grew ONE apple! I watched it for a long time, sure that the deer or the bear or birds might get it. But one day, it looked ripe enough and I ate it! Yumm!

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A while back, I bought a book on Monet’s garden. It was so interesting to read. And he just was determined to put flowers everywhere. So the next time Kevin came over, I kidded around and said I was going to add some planter beds here. He actually likes building these beds, so he did this for me. I’m very excited. I bought a bunch of spring bulbs from John Scheepers again, plus those specialty seeds that I bought, so I will be able to plant some of them here.

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Of course, all of the dogs have to explore anything new in the garden.

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Kevin came up with a great idea to add some beds to the front of the shade garden. We are going to save that project for next spring.

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A Garden Comment and Chicken Report

This is one of the best garden bargains I have ever gotten. I paid $4 for a little rose bush that was not grafted, and this is it just two years later. It is always healthy, and it never stops blooming.

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So today was the day to “steam clean” the chicken coop. That is what I called it, because I wished that was what I could do. First I cleaned all the litter off the floor–a combo of shavings, chicken poop, and food. And it was really dusty. And then I had to bring in the big guns–a ladder and a hose. I wanted to clean off all the chicken shit from their roosts. And believe me, it was a LOT. Because I am a nice person, and I know that chickens like to roost on a shelf rather than a post, most of them roosted on 12 inch and 8 inch boards. Which means they crapped all night long on their roosts. Anyway, that’s enough poop talk. It actually wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be. But I was worn out when it was done. Oh, you can see in this picture that I started feeding them wet food. I just soak their chicken food for a few minutes. There is way less waste that way, and they really seem to enjoy it.

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This is Baby’s sister. (did I tell you all that Baby died last spring?) Anyway, she was looking pretty poorly all summer, and then she finally grew a new set of feathers. But she’s already looking a bit threadbare. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, if anything.

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And here she is all fluffed out in her nest box.

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This is Baby’s other sister. She has always maintained her feathers. I don’t think she’s the ruler of the roost. She just seems to stay away from the rest of the chickens.

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She seems to pal around with the professor, and they stay mostly in the second yard. Poor Professor. He hasn’t had a tail for a long time. But if you look closely, you can see a few feather buds back there. I am hopeful.

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This chicken has finished moulting and she is in full feather. I love seeing them like this.

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Here is the Dominic rooster and hen. She has just about finished moulting, and he is just starting to moult. He only has one tail feather right now.

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So here is a sad little chicken (but she doesn’t know it–she’s very perky and inquisitive.) She is moulting, but the whole lack of a tail is so ridiculous. Many of my chickens had that going on. I am hoping that by leaving the lights off this winter, they will not peck each other’s feathers out so much.

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Here is a chicken in full moult. One time I had a banty chicken, and she would moult in November, when it was pretty cold, and she lost every single feather all at once. I felt like I should knit her a sweater!

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And here you can see all the feathers just starting to grow back in on another chicken.

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So there you go. That’s what’s a happening with the chickens. I am still enjoying them a lot. I will enjoy them even more if they keep their feathers this year. And, I have to say, it is a relief to have the coop cleaned out before winter comes.

The Garden and Other Stuff

Kefir. Does anybody know about this stuff? A friend gave me some “kefir grains.” They look like gel bubbles. You just put them in milk and set it on the counter for 24 hours. Magic–kefir! It is easier than making yogurt. But the thing is, you have to keep feeding those darn kefir grains. Its too much for one person! It makes absolutely great smoothies. I think I like it better than my yogurt smoothies. Here’s a website with more than you ever wanted to know about kefir.

Here’s some of the things that are happening in the garden this week.Some yellow petunias and blue lobelia. This is the most success I have had with the lobelia.

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A second bloom on my new rose bush. I really love the color and the smell of this rose.

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The day lilies are having a good year! Maybe they like the watering system.

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The daisies are leaning over. It looks like they are the blooms on my little azalea.

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A close-up:

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The hydrangeas are finally starting to bloom. It seems like they are later than usual this year. They are HUGE!

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Close ups of the two types of blooms:

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Did you know these common little begonias will come back year after year? I didn’t know that. Free flowers are always so fun πŸ™‚

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And here’s something I do every single night–I wash all the eggs that I’ve gathered for that day. One of the fun things about having chickens is finding the occasional unusual egg. See that giant oblong egg? Yeah, that’s going into my quiche tonight πŸ™‚ And that tiny little one? I’m giving that to my friend who does the Pysanky eggs.Β 

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And that’s it for another week, friends. Hope all is well with you.

Garden Events

Let’s get the unpleasantness over right away. Thursday night Noah was barking. Nothing new, right? But I went outside to hush him up, and then Chloe started barking and staring at something. YES. Another rattlesnake in my yard :(( Β The third rattlesnake in three summers. I rounded up the dogs and shut them in the house. But this time it was pretty close to the front door and the front gate. So I just stood there staring at it so it wouldn’t move. And I called my neighbors WHO ARE ALWAYS HOME and they weren’t home!! So I just kept standing there and calling them over and over, and then I called Kevin (MLG) to see if he had any good ideas about what to do. And then I thought of another friend to call to see if they could come over to shoot it. And then I thought I heard a car and hoping it was my good neighbors, I called them again, and they were home!! (they live about a mile away from me.) Anyway, Tom came over and shot that stupid snake, and I thanked him profusely, and he said it made him feel like Crocodile Dundee πŸ™‚ I must have stood out there having a stand off with that snake for over half an hour! It was a little un-nerving, and I freely admit that I had an ice cream sandwich after that. And stayed up extra late and then took TWO melatonin before I went to bed.

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Alright, now to the fun stuff. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the garden this week. The weeds are growing like crazy, plus I’ve bought a few plants that needed to get into the ground. Its no good leaving little six-packs to bake in 95 degree weather.

This is another little succulent I got a while ago. Its a tiny variegated jade plant.

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I’ve been collecting decorative pots, and today I replanted some of my little trees that were still in plastic containers.

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I’m trying this little tree in the shade garden.

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Finally having some luck with a heuchera. Aren’t the colors pretty?

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And that little rose bush is going great guns!

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I bought a yellow gaillardia to go with the pretty blue salvia. The dahlias are doing very well. I think I might add more of those next year!

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Okay, the plant people must know that if they name something with a food name, I am immediately attracted to it. This was a Peachy lantana.

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And I’ve already forgotten what this common little flower is called. But I noticed that they are producing more and more colors in this plant this year.

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The roses have done well. Most of them are done, and I am waiting for them to put out a second bloom.

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My honeysuckle!! I absolutely love the scent of this in the garden.

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When its this hot, Noah gives up his beloved sling bed and lays in the gravel next to the house.

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And a short chicken report. You can see the chickens bald spots in these pictures. So irritating. Some of them are finally growing some new feathers back. They are always moving. Going into their house or coming out. Checking out the second yard, and of course running to the gate if they think I’m bringing a treat.

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This rooster is such a gentleman. Just the way roosters are supposed to be. When I give them treats, he just points out the delicacies to the girls and lets them have first chance at the food. That flat comb he has is called a rose comb. I didn’t use to like them, but I think it makes him look dignified πŸ™‚DSCN6187

And that’s it for this week’s events. I have another busy week next week. MLG will be here, so I’m sure I’ll have some new things to show you.

 

 

Garden Report

This is the year of the columbine! These are some old columbines that self-seeded behind one of the Japanese maples.

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These are some columbines that I planted last year.

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And one more columbine, right next to the new rose bush I bought last week! I’ll get it planted tomorrow.

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A lone foxglove. Remember, last fall I complained that the foxgloves were blooming then, instead of waiting until spring?

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Did I tell you I built this trellis myself? This is a wild rose, and it needed some support. I saw these stakes at the nursery and decided I could build my own trellis.

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Snapdragons and the Gerbera daisy.

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And the lupines in full bloom.

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I forgot the name of this plant. Its a perennial that grows well in the shade, with lime green leaves and beautiful violet flowers.

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Thought I’d throw in a few pictures of the chickens. They all run over to the fence when they see me coming. Because usually I am bringing them some sort of treat. You might be able to see that many of them are missing feathers. I am not happy about this at all. I think it started because I was leaving the lights on during winter to keep them laying. They were bored, and so they started plucking each other. I weaned the lights off, and I’m hoping that when they eventually molt, that will be the end of their feather plucking.

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This is one sitting in the nest box. You can see that they all have a favorite nest box. Most of them lay their eggs in the first and the last box. I don’t know why. All the boxes are equal. I even put a little runway up so they could walk back and forth and choose any box they wanted.

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And that’s the report for this week. We have a week of predicted 70 degree weather–perfect for working in the garden. I’m hoping to get some more planting and weeding done this week.

Chicken Report

My chickens are growing up! They’re doing grownup things like crowing every morning, and laying eggs. I look forward to finding eggs every day, and I usually check several times a day, trying not to disturb the hens too much. Today I actually stood there and watched one hen lay her egg!!

Here’s my egg washing system. You can see they are still laying a variety of sizes. The big ones are double yolkers.

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And my new pink egg cartons! I have asked people to save their egg cartons for me, but I was worried that I would not have enough cartons so I checked around the internet and found one place that sold cartons at a discount. I have a LOT of pink egg cartons πŸ™‚

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Today I worked in the garden a bit. I pulled up all the mint (haha, I’m pretty sure it’ll make an appearance in the spring…) The chickens love to pick over fresh greens.

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The two big boys. So far they are behaving themselves for the most part–not fighting with each other, not being aggressive towards me, and not bothering the hens TOO much. As long as they behave themselves they are welcome at my farm. They have names: Buddy #1 and Buddy #2.

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The little king. He stays away from the big boys and he doesn’t bother the hens at all. Probably because he can’t see… Somebody pecks his topknot at night, so now he gets anti-pick medicine on his head.

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And Here’s Baby!!!! She is so smart. She might be low in the pecking order, but she just knows how to stay out of everybody’s way, and she gets her fair share of all the treats too.

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Baby’s big sister. She is probably the largest hen, and really she is probably the most outstanding.

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This is a New Hampshire Red. All of the red hens are pretty friendly, and very curious. They always come very close to me, and usually let me pet them.

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Chicken in a Bowl πŸ™‚

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One more shot of Buddy #2. He is really a gorgeous rooster–a Speckled Sussex. You can see his female counterpart in the corner there. Oh, see that woodwork along the ground in the back? The chickens were digging their way UNDER my woodshed. I was worried that the cement foundation would collapse, so MLG rigged that up to deter them.

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Buff Orpington. They are very quiet. I love their soft color.

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Every afternoon I spread a bunch of “scratch” for them. Its like a chicken treat. They look forward to it every day, and always follow me along the fence line to see if this time I will be giving it to them.

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An action shot of Baby–that’s how she does it. Identifies what she wants and finds the most strategic place to get it πŸ™‚

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And that’s the chicken report for now. I wish you all lived closer. I have a lot of eggs to share with people. I had eggs for dinner tonight. They taste good, but I am not a good egg cooker, and they don’t look very appetizing, so no pictures.

 

This ‘n That

The chickens are starting to lay eggs! I’m having so much fun gathering them. So far they’re laying all different sizes. Even though all my chickens are standard sized, some of their eggs are still “banty sized.” The big ones are double-yolkers!!

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Sometimes this is exactly how I feel:

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“I just want to drink coffee, raise chickens, and take naps”

My knee is doing great. But the heel on that same leg hurts like heck. I went for my final checkup with the surgeon (for 9 months) and told him about it, and they did x-rays on it. No fracture. The physical therapist doesn’t think its plantar fasciitis (I don’t think so either) but they are having me do some stretching exercises and that seems to help a little. Its just discouraging to still have that same leg hurting to be walking. HOWEVER, after saying rather pitifully to my BF that I didn’t think I would walk too much any more because my arthritis was so bad, I decided that I was being a baby. So I have been challenging myself to take longer and more vigorous walks. It feels good mentally :/

I’ve been trying out some new recipes. Jill recommended this one, which says its pizza sauce, but its really just a marinara sauce recipe. Its easy to vary the recipe a bit using what you like/have on hand. I like chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so I usually use Β I am loving making this and freezing it in zip lock baggies and then using it for whatever. I made a low-cal chicken recipe using some chicken tenders. I mixed in some fresh spinach with the marinara sauce, used less than half a serving of penne pasta, and then topped it with some fresh mozzarella that was on sale. YUMM, and only 250 calories! Sorry, no picture.

Then, Biz recommended this pumpkin baked oatmeal. I looked the recipe over, and the stats on it were pretty high–400 calories for a serving. Then I realized that the serving size was huge, even for a volume eater like me. So I cut it into 8 pieces instead of 6, and voila! 300 calories per serving πŸ™‚ I got up bright and early one morning, and made this recipe. Right before I put it in the oven, I had a brief thought that there was not much pumpkin pie spice in it, so I took a little taste, and it seemed okay. After it had been in the oven for 15 minutes, THAT’s when I realized that I actually left the pumpkin out of the recipe. Aaargh. I guess I wasn’t quite awake enough. Anyway, I adjusted the cooking time down, and it is still quite delicious. I can’t wait to make it with the pumpkin in it!

Thursday night we had a good rain storm, the first in months! Saturday I went out to see what was still looking good in the garden. Here are the petunias I planted by the studio door. I think I will always have some flowers growing in this–it mostly protects the plants from the deer, and its cheerful to see the flowers when I drive up.

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The roses are loving our cooler temperatures. This is the “wild” rose. The branches hang down. I plan to put a little support for it for next spring, but I love how it is a prolific bloomer.

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Other roses:

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The tuberous begonia. I got a two for one in this pot!

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The dwarf abutilon is loving the fall.

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And the mandevillea vine is still going strong.

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So, in other garden news, I have voles in my yard! I couldn’t figure out why the dirt was rising up in certain areas. MLG is here today, and pointed out the vole trails to me. I found these solar vole repellants on Amazon. Anyone have any experience using these things?

And that’s about all for now. Have a great week!