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Happy as Clams

April 2nd, 2015

All of the birds are happy as clams. As the snow recedes they immediately go to the fresh ground and start scratching away. No doubt there will be a few bare spots in the lawn where they have congregated for the past few weeks.
chickens in spring 1
Thankfully, more and more area are opening up so they can spread out a bit and kick through leaves, which they prefer to grass. They linger much longer outside now that the days are getting warmer, sunnier, and longer. I can’t close up the coop until it’s dark, even then there are often chickens outside the door trying to enjoy the last bit of daylight.
chickens in spring 2
With the spring will also come foxes and other predators. As soon as the snow melts it will be time to put up the electric fences and get them going once again. Until then the chickens will enjoy being 100% free range.
chickens in spring 3
I notice the wild birds are also out and about more. As I gather sap during the day I hear more and more birdsong. It’s a beautiful thing to hear and see animals and birds string in the wild once again.

Are you noticing more birds and wildlife as spring comes?

The Circle of Life

May 20th, 2014

When you have animals you notice the circle of life.  On Sunday morning I went out to the coop to find our oldest hen had died during the night.  She was in her usual spot the night before when I counted everyone at bedtime, she must have died in her sleep right on her roost.  I’m happy she went this way, it’s no fun dealing with sick chickens.  She lived a long happy life, out foraging in the fields and have fun with her flock mates.
Chickens 2
We’re not sure how old she was, probably around 5 years old. She came to us with the house when we arrived a year and a half ago, she was an Isa Brown. We still have a few of these original hens left, but their numbers have dwindled by way of fox attacks.
Broody Hen Umbrella
Meanwhile, Broody Hen is being a wonderful mom, bringing up replacements for her. So goes the circle of life, there is birth and death; the young replace the sick, older or those lost through predation. It will be interesting to see how many of these little chicks are hens and how many are roosters. It seems in spring the new life cycle of this circle is most evident since this is the time when animals are hatching and birthing the subsequent generation.

Have you noticed new life in the garden?

New Life

April 29th, 2014

Miss Broody finally has a few babies. Last Friday morning I noticed a little chick in the nesting box when I checked on her. Sadly, there was one that hadn’t made it through the hatching process as well.
broody hen and chicks 1
I checked on her on Saturday morning and there were a few more chicks and a couple more in the process of hatching out. Monday morning I moved them from the tiny nesting box into a small brooder in the chicken coop with food, water and a small heat lamp.
broody hen and chicks 2
It will be interesting to watch these little ones grow up to see what they look like. Some of them should be Wyandottes, some of the will be barnyard mixes, no doubt they’ll all be just as great as their parents!
broody hen and chicks 3
Miss Broody went right to work showing her babies how to scratch around in the litter, drink from their water bowl and eat the food I provided for them. I wanted to put them outside but it was very cold and rather windy. If they could easily navigate in and out of the coop I would have let her simply take them wherever she wanted, but our coop is not accessible to little birdies, that’s something we’re hoping to work on. There are also lots of layers of chicken wire installed by the previous owner and it is kind of a land mine for little ones.
broody hen and chicks 4
In the future we hope to have a new coop with a dedicated brooding area for mama birds to hatch out their young and it will have a dedicate run area attached to it for safe outdoor fun for little babies. Until then, we’ll make do with what we have, which probably means carrying them outside into a fenced in area and then carrying them back in at night. It will be well worth the effort in the health benefits it will provide for the little ones.

Any wonderful things happening in your house/garden/coop?

Slowly But Surely

March 29th, 2014

We’re still not quite finished painting the one bedroom, crazy I know. I was telling Mr Chiots that we added two bedrooms, a sitting room and a bathroom in our old house way less time than it’s taken us to simply paint one room here.
Painting bedroom
painting brick 1
I just finished painting the chimney in this room, which was tedious to say the least. The worst part was that one side of it was only three inches away from another wall. I ended up taking the top off of one of my big artist brushes, it took a while.
painting brick 2
Hopefully this weekend I start prepping another room for painting!

Any home improvement projects on your weekend to-do list?

Herbed Chicken – Not the Cooked Kind

October 9th, 2013

Yesterday, I spent some time gathering fresh herbs for the nesting boxes. Soon enough the herbs will be gone and the snow will be flying. I’ve been harvesting herbs all summer long and drying them in the attic of the garage for this purpose, but when I have them fresh I use them that way.  In the winter I use dried herbs for the same purpose.  In this bucket is a mix of: calendula flowers, marigold flowers & leaves, peppermint, thyme, sweet annie, oregano, and lime basil. A handful was placed in each nesting box and now the coop smells amazing.
Chicken Herbs
I think the chickens rather like the herbs, if I only put herbs in one nesting box they seem to choose that one over the others. These herbs are supposed to help keep away parasites, lice, fleas, mites, ticks and other little creepy crawlies. You can also add other herbs like lavender, bay leaves, eucalyptus, catnip and catmint. Next year I plan on growing a few more herbs in the garden just for my feathered ladies.  Even if they didn’t help with little crawlies I’m pretty sure I’d still do it, the coop smells great and the chickens are happy.

What’s your favorite herb for scent instead of eating? 

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.