When the baby chicks were little, I could not believe the amount of dust that they generated. I had no idea why and initially chalked it up to the brooder’s bedding. However, I noticed that as they grew in size so did the dust. I was still using the same amount of pine shavings in the brooder for bedding, so why more dust? It surely could not be solely from the pine shavings and I was right. It was from the chickens themselves. The majority of the dust was coming from them.
Living in a place where we experience all four seasons including what can be a sometimes very snowy winter, I have had to come up with some pretty ingenious ways to care for chickens during weeks on end of nasty weather. One such way that I have done so this year is with this adjustable chicken run tarp.
If you are like myself and my family, we love to supplement our flock’s diet with goodies such as meal worms, scratch, seeds, yogurt and scraps from the kitchen. One treat that we love to share with the girls involves gorgeous green cabbage leaves.
The little girls are now 12 weeks old and really starting to look like real chickens! The Buff Brahma bantams’ combs are beginning to turn a bit red, which makes me think that they will be the ones to lay before the other chickens that they grew up with.
Cooler days are also starting to arrive. Molting has begun and I swear, some mornings when I open the coop it looks as though a chicken has exploded! Just the other day as I was scooping up freshly fallen feathers in my hands from the run and Fluffy, one of our new Easter Eggers, came over to me and stole a large feather right out of my hand. She was so proud of herself!
Chicken keeping can become addicting if you let it. Before you know it you will want one of each breed. You will lose all will power on the trips to the feed store and you will find yourself craving “just one more”. I too admit that it is difficult to control these such urges. Goodness knows that I have them! However, I have resisted for a number of reasons. The best one being that as the flock ages, the number of eggs it produces tapers off.
I’m not sure what to think of the first big snow storm of 2014. Living on a man-made island that juts into the Atlantic Ocean, the forecast is always variable and unpredictable. Sometimes, the forecast is for record amounts of snow and we get a dusting, other times it is the complete opposite. Regardless of the forecast, it is always essential to be ready for anything.
Fresh herbs and flowers dry along side mini-potatoes and garlic on vintage flower bulb drying trays.
Like most chicken keepers, I love spending time in the garden. Each year I plant and grow plenty of herbs for the family and the chickens. In the summer, the girls enjoy nibbling on the fresh herbs. However, as the season begins to come to a close, we harvest what remains in the garden before the first frost. We then dry the herbs prior to future use. We use a few different techniques to dry the herbs and flowers based on their moisture content. Once dried, we use the herbs in cooking and also in the chicken coop! Adding a sprinkle of dried chicken-safe herbs to the coop helps keep insects, mice, and parasites away. Plus I think it soothes the girls during their egg laying. To learn how to add herbs to the chicken coop read on.
This week was a tough one for us New Englanders. We were hit by a very large blizzard this past Friday. I have spent much of my time since then helping friends and family to pick up the pieces. This time around, our family was much more fortunate. Many are still without power and temperatures in the evening have been below freezing. Today, I saw electric utility trucks all the way from Wisconsin-here to help. I thought I would share some photos.
A huge winter blizzard is heading our way. I took the time yesterday to clean the coop, cover the run with some plastic and refill all the feeders and waterers. This morning when I opened the coop, the winds were beginning to whip and a wet light snow was beginning to fall. Surely the chickens sense that the storm is coming. Just what do they do when there is an impending storm?
They scratch in the run.
They lay eggs.
They eat their fill of chicken feed.
They fluff their feathers.
They take dust baths.
They snuggle together on the outside roosts.
They take naps.
They peck at the head of cauliflower in the run to prevent boredom.
Oyster Cracker gives me the stink eye when I can’t snuggle at the moment.
Hmm…seems just like what they do every day.
I don’t think the chickens care that the blizzard is coming. They are acclimated to the weather and to them, this is just another day in chicken paradise, at least until they realize that there will be no free-ranging for a bit due to snow up to their eyeballs that the weather man is predicting!
Other than a good dust bath, there is no other place that a chicken would rather be than free-ranging about their environment. Chickens love to scratch in the dirt. They love to discover bugs, worms and tasty grubs as they explore their surroundings. However, most folks never free-range due to the risk of predators. Those that allow their chickens to roam freely on their property accept and understand the risk of losing members of their flock from time to time. This was not an option for me nor was it a risk that I felt comfortable with. One of the best solutions that I came up with three years ago was supervised free ranging. Supervised free-ranging allows your flock to be out and about in the yard as your presence keeps predators away.