Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Birthday River

Look who's grown up! River is 12 months old. She's a big girl now but still looks like a gangly teenager. She really is a beauty queen and a big baby.  She would be oh so happy if she could fit in daddy's hip pocket.

Hanging out in the yard with Shadow
Taking a break
"We're gonna chase it Mom, right?"

Happy Birthday, River!

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Maintaining the Coop

Making sure we have happy, healthy hens is a priority around here. I love my chickens and we spend some quality time every day taking care of them but we only clean out the chicken coop once a year. 

Cleaning day arrives. My minion starts by emptying out the storage side of the hen house.
 We use the deep litter method of coop maintenance which means we use a deep layer of an absorbent substance in the coop and add to it over the year. There are all sorts of good ways to take care of your birds and we all have to do whatever works for our situation as long as the hens are healthy. I talked about it in this post and you can read up on it in various web articles and magazines. But, once a year it must be cleaned out and a clean layer added for the health of the birds.

A little privacy please I'm trying to pick out a nest box!
As you can see, over the course of the year the litter in the house has gotten quite high. This lady doesn't see a thing wrong with it, in fact she's quite annoyed with me for taking her picture.

My minion again wheeling out the last barrow, he broke his shovel trying to load too much at one time. :(
Be sure to wear a dust mask when shoveling chicken litter you really don't want to breath in all that nasty dust. 12 wheel barrows full of litter went onto the compost pile. The garden will be amazing next year. (I let this compost for a year just to be sure it's not too hot for the garden.)

Clean as a whistle!
This is where I come in. I scrub, and I do mean scrub with a brush, the whole thing with a solution of vinegar and bleach and then rinse like crazy. We have to wait for a hot day so the coop will dry completely before we go to the next step. We don't want it to be damp at all, that would not be good for the birds.

Next step is a dusting of diatomaceous earth in the nooks and crannies. The idea here is to get any hidden bugs that might have been missed by my scrubbing. There seems to be some recent controversy about using diatomaceous earth with your birds and I'm only telling you what I do not telling you what you should do. I'm certainly not a scientist or chicken expert so do whatever you think is best. I don't use ANY chemicals or pesticides in my gardens or coops/runs so I have to find the best solutions for my situation. I don't feed this to them but they do peck at it when I put it down and it's never hurt them. 
On top of that goes a 6 inch layer of peat moss. I use peat moss because this is eventually going to end up in my garden and because it's super absorbent. The hens love to roll around in it too!

Spreading the peat moss, my minion is almost done for the day.
Fresh hay for the nest boxes and Bob's your uncle, we're done until next year! Over the course of the next year I'll add herb clippings whenever I'm trimming the garden - lavender, rosemary, lemon balm. Clean hay gets dropped when I clean the nest boxes and some clean peat moss to help with absorbancy. There's never any bad smells or flies and I've never had a diseased bird in 15 years (fingers crossed).

How do you handle your hen house litter?

Linking up to Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Until next time,

Monday, June 24, 2013

DWM/Blogger Girl Month 5

Are you sitting down? Of course you are, you're sitting at your computer reading blog posts. I'm glad you're sitting because I know how shocked you're going to be to see a quilting post on my blog after all this time! I actually made it into my sewing room for the first time in over a month and I got some some actual sewing done. Not just moving fabric around, but sewing. Whew, I almost forgot how to match those seams up. But, I persevered and I knocked out the May Blogger Girl blocks.

Yes, I do realize it's the end of June but you all know I've been a little lot busy around here and this is  supposed to be a relaxing hobby not a job. So, if I continue on my sewing streak of one day maybe I can catch up and knock out the June blocks before June is actually over. I feel like it might be possible. All I have to do today is: feed the chickens, ditto the dogs, deadhead the roses and other flowers, figure out whats wrong with the well because it's not pumping water right now, get water to the chickens regardless, water the garden regardless, pick up the house, exercise the dogs so they don't bug me ALL DAY LONG, finalize plans for my San Diego trip for baby Paige's first birthday, change over my personal contact list to new email addy (don't get me started on satellite provider woes)... yep I think that's all.

Best get started if I want to get back into the sewing room before dark!

Until next time,

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jumpin' In

If you follow any blogs at all you've seen this a hundred times by now so I won't waste a lot of time on explanation. Let's just say that I supposedly have to claim myself in order for you to continue to follow me on Bloglovin once Google Reader goes away. So that's what this post is all about. I hereby stake my claim to my blog on Bloglovin - <a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>. The directions said I should publish this code right here in a post but doesn't that look ugly?


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Slap of the Screen Door

Nothing quite evokes summer memories like that sound. Kids running in and out of the house and the screen door banging and the bugs getting in around the warped frame and don't forget the bats. Remember the bats? I told you about the bat in my bedroom and that wasn't the first time a bat has wandered into my house. We had to do something about those damn screen doors now that summer really is here and the doors are open all the time. Besides they're ugly and old. We have two double door entrances. One in the front and one in the back that needed help.

These have been replaced with:

Retractable screen doors that slide into the frame and virtually disappear. During the winter we can open them into the frame and they will be completely out of the weather. They close really tight with magnets. These babies are not cheap! In fact the two of them for our French doors were quite expensive and must be factory installed, it took the guy who came out about three hours to put them in. I debated this purchase for a long time, years in fact. But, the last bat incident sealed the deal!

Besides, don't they look nice from the inside? Bring on the summer breeze.  As you can see Shadow and River are spoiled rotten dogs with dog beds and crates with garden views right in the middle of the action!

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cheep, Cheep, Cheep

Mrs. Gold is so busy, she's running around like a chicken with her head...well you know. She has a big brood to take care of. Be careful what you wish for I told her but she just wouldn't listen and she persisted in collecting every egg she could find whether she had laid them or not! She sat patiently for 21 long days and nights (and you thought your labor was long) and finally out popped a baby!!

No wait, make that two!

But, she wasn't giving up just yet. Over the course of the next 24 hours three more eggs hatched for a total of five on that day. You can see that she's juggling sitting on eggs and rambunctious newborns. After five hatchlings had made it successfully into the world she decided that they needed to get water and left the nest to show them the ropes. That left five eggs cooling and she showed no signs of returning to them. She stayed away most of the day and I started to worry about those other unhatched babies. She on the other hand was completely unconcerned. She had her babies, quintuplets are plenty to deal with, la dee da.

I finally decided to rescue the unhatched eggs even though I don't have an incubator. When I examined her nest I found one dead chick that just didn't make it out of the shell. Probably why she didn't want to go back in and 4 rapidly cooling eggs that looked fine. I put a heating pad in the bottom of a basket, lined it with shredded paper and turned the pad on low. As I picked up each egg I checked it for smell. Yes, I sniffed them. Nothing smelled rotten or off. Next, I gently tapped each one and listened to them. Two of them gave me little peeps back - there were definitely chicks in there wanting out. The other two were silent. The two that were peeping went into the basket. I steeled myself and decided to crack one of the others, when I did I found that it was a plain old egg, unfertilized, never gonna be a chick no matter how long she sat on it. Emboldened I cracked the other one and found the same thing - whew!  I did not want to find anything nasty.

So now I had two eggs to try to keep warm and hope they hatched on their own. Over the course of the next two days they did! I carried one around in my t-shirt pocket to keep it warm for most of an afternoon waiting for it's sib to finish hatching. When they both were out and dry and night time came on the second day I slipped them under mama when they all had gone to bed. By morning they were all a happy family! I guess chickens definitely can not count. Quintuplets, septuplets, whatever. Let's see if we can get a picture.

See how puffed up she is? She does not like me poking around. I can kind of see four.
Back to two. Relax, I just need a picture for the baby book.
Here we go - Mrs. Gold and her seven beautiful chicks.
Until next time,

Photo provided by Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, June 14, 2013

Joy All Around

Things have been busy and joyous here on Dogwood Lane. We are so blessed. Our darling granddaughter turned two. She is a treasure beyond description, funny and smart. Gives her brothers a run for their money. My sweetheart.

And, it's graduation time! How could this have happened? Our eldest grandson has grown up and now he's a high school graduate!

He'll be off to university in August having earned top honors in his high school career. We're so proud of him! Not only is he intelligent but also kind and good to his Gram.

Handsome too!

So grateful every day. Until next time,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Mail

Do you skip to the mail box hoping for something fun to arrive? Most days the mail only holds advertising or those dreaded bills. But, some days like yesterday there are fun things in the mail!

Michelle from Michelle's Little Piece of Heaven has been hosting a craft swap for the month of June and my craft partner sent me the cutest things you ever saw. Don't you think that these crochet pieces are exquisite? I'm even more impressed because I don't have a clue as to how it's all done.

Just look at the workmanship on this piece. I've always wanted to learn how to crochet but I know I would never reach this level of craft. My partner's name is Faith and her blog is here at Crochet by the Sea. So many pretty things to see, oh my.

This tiny dress has a magnet for use on the refrigerator. Once my two year old grand daughter sees it I have a feeling she will want it for herself. She loves tiny, pretty things. 

I was so excited to send my swap off to Faith that I forgot to take a picture of it before I put it in the mail! What a dunce. Thank you Faith. And thanks to Michelle for hosting our swap.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Making Eggs Out of Roses

Whenever I'm deadheading my roses I always save the spent blossoms in a bucket for the hens. Here you see roses along with cuttings from the herbs around the garden - rosemary, lemon balm, lavender, mint, oregano, whatever weeds I've pulled out of the flower beds.

The girls come running whenever I show up with the white bucket. They know some tasty treat in store for them. Mrs. Gold's maternity ward/nursery is in the background. Don't worry I saved some rose petals for her.

Pink is the absolute favorite color followed by red and white. Yellow is a distant last place. They gobble the petals down whole. Those egg yolks tomorrow will be so bright!

Clever Chicks Blog Hop #39

 Until next time,