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Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category


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My very first objective was to sleep. It was Friday night and honestly, I was longing for bed by 7:30 — every fiber in my body wanting to lie down. About 9:00 I took a half a pill that my doctor had prescribed about 10 months ago (two months after we’d moved and when I still couldn’t sleep in the new place) and which a friend had warned me — in a frantic arm-grabbing I’m-so-not-kidding-it-happened-to-me kind of way — could easily become addictive. I didn’t care. I just wanted a long night’s sleep with no interruptions. This was a touch and go proposition, as I’ve had a least week of really nasty nightmares and I could have ended up trapping myself inside ever more nightmares with a pill. (I still took the half a pill.)

The dogs and cat woke me at 5:45 am and I wanted to sleep more. I decided the way to do so was to get up, feed the cat, and lock the dogs out of the loft bedroom. That did not work. Jake knew I was up there lolling about in the sheets, breathing without him, and he whined and scratched at the hallway gate. I was not tired enough to ignore him and go back to sleep.

I made coffee and read my email. I would have liked to have my coffee outside with the birds and the bees and the butterflies, but as has been the rule this summer it was too cold and gray outside. So I read blogs and thought thoughts and sipped. Eventually I decided I needed breakfast and I made some bacon and scrambled eggs. The refrigerator was very nearly empty and in that state where it’s relatively easy to clean. So I did that, and got rid of every condiment in it that contained wheat as well.

Shortly after that, I decided to shower and change and head out to do some provisioning. First to the Farmers Market for tomatoes — rare and still not quite ripe (or sweet) and more precious than gold this cold, cold summer.  The bank, the thrift store, the flooring center. Then to the hardware store for a hedge trimmer, and the Star Store for everything else.

Back home I unpacked, did a few things at the computer, called the kiddo and then promptly forgot the cell phone on the kitchen counter, and then went to tear apart the tomato garden. This was a sad task. The tomatoes were planted in a raised bed that came with the house, and when I planted them I added a manure/compost mix, but still they became stunted and yellowed and diseased. I kept thinking it was the cold, wet weather until co-workers told me that their tomatoes were doing well. So I consulted with my good friend, who is also a master gardener, and she told me that they needed to be pulled. They had some sort of pathogen attacking them and they would not recover. And after I tore them out I was to put some hot manure/compost on the beds and let them sit and recover until next summer.

So I tore the garden down and then went out to clean the chicken coop inside and out. I collected eggs and discovered that the new chicks were laying! We’d had a very-nearly full-sized white egg the other day so I knew at least one of the chicks was laying. But two new (very small) eggs confirmed that they were all finally mature enough to provide us a surplus. Cleaning the coop would have been easier if I had been able to find my tools. I use a metal paint scraper to remove the chicken poop from the window sills and someone put it back in the buckets of painting supplies. Still, I got it done. I moved four big buckets of chicken poop and wood shavings out to the garden, and then I snugged down some tarps over them. If I had not done so, I knew the dog communications would go something like, “hey, did you see the great big piles of chicken poop Suzie left us? They’re fabulous for rolling in and eating!

And then I was too tired to do anything else, so I took a shower, put on my ‘lounge-wear’ (PJs), and I made a quick and easy summer dinner of chicken-basil sausages and a tomato, basil, and burrata salad (the tomatoes were really disappointing).

And I read “Still Life with Chickens”, which my master-gardener friend had sent in the mail. And then Jake came in and shook chicken poop and wood shavings all over the clean carpet, and I went outside to find Molé with her head under a section of the tarp that was not stapled down…munching. So I placed a bunch of texas tomato cages on the top of the tarps, like a horizontal fence. And then I vacuumed.

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Brooder Box


Remind me to post a photo as soon as I take one, but in the meantime know this: the Mad Scientist has outdone himself and built a lovely and highly functional brooder box for the 10 day-old chicks that arrive at the end of the month. Next step: test the heat lamp in the intended location of the brooder box to be sure we can keep the chicks as warm as they need to be. Also, do more research on how long they need to be in the box…

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A couple of weeks ago I discovered a tunnel into the chicken coop. It was small, so I guessed at baby possums or rodents. In order to avoid attracting the attention of such tunneling critters, I try not to give the ladies so much food that there are leftovers scattered about at the end of the day, but there’s always a feeder with a couple of cups of organic feed hanging within. And there’s always water available. The Mad Scientist and I wedged the tunnel full of rocks so tightly that even we would need rock hammers or shovels to get them back out. And then we occasionally checked back for more activity.

Today there was a second tunnel on the other side of the coop. Inside the henhouse I found evidence of something with white fur and claws, as there were a million scritchy-scratchy marks on the cover of the rubbermaid container in which I store the feed, as well as a fine coating of 1/2 inch long white hair, like the first dusting of snow on the gravel driveway. I closed off the second tunnel as we had the first. They were each located between the post of the outer coop and the wall of the henhouse, where there actually is a little more vulnerability to tunneling. It must be some sort of small critter, because I’ve heard no panic from the ladies and they’ve suffered no attacks or harm of any kind. We’ll need to keep a close eye on things nonetheless.

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