Tag Archives: farming

Teaching Old Chicks New Tricks

This spring we had planned on building our new chicken coop, but life often doesn’t go as planned. Lack of time and know-how led us to the decision to purchase a pre-made coop. It was advertised as being Amish built, though the person sold it to us and delivered it was not Amish.

It is made from rough cut pine with a metal roof.

We had an extra windows installed to provide more light inside and a cross breeze on those hot summer nights.

Before it could become a home for our flock it needed some finishing touches.

We started by priming and then painting the outside.

We would have liked to put a second coat of paint on it but the weather has been quite rainy so that will have to wait until next spring/summer.

Inside the coop we discovered that the untreated lumber was quite susceptible to mold growth. My husband did a little research and found that a product called concrobium is recommend for removing or arresting mold on porous surfaces such as wood. After treating the entire inside of the coop twice with this product he was satisfied that the mold was taken care of.

Then it was time to add more roosts to the coop. Chickens like to roost at night and since our chickens always spend the nights inside the coop we find it necessary to have enough roost space for all of them. The roosts (pictured above) that were installed by the builders were not adequate to meet the needs of our flock.

The roosts he added are pictured below.

It was then time to move the chickens to their new home. The biggest challenge in this was that the location of the new coop is not in the area where the old coop was. The chickens were in the habit of returning to their (old) coop each night so it was time to teach them “new tricks”.

While we didn’t think it would be quite so easy, we first attempted to just put the chickens in the new coop at night and let them out to free range as usual during the day. In order to get the chickens into the new coop at night we had to wait until they returned to the old coop, where they were corralled, then we could catch them and put them into a carrier (cage) and take them to the new coop. We have three carriers that will hold 3-4 chickens each so it took two trips to move the whole flock (24 chickens).

After repeating this process on two evenings, because the chickens naturally returned to the old coop, we decided that was enough of those shenanigans.

The next step was to (temporarily) fence them in so they were not able to get to the old coop. It’s a little difficult to see in the above photo but my husband put up plastic fencing around a large area which included the chicken door. There are lots of leaves on the ground in the area so the chickens had lots to scratch through and he left the trailer inside the fenced area so the chickens could use it for shelter from the rain. They also had access to the coop through the chicken door.

After being fenced in all day, all of the chickens returned to the new coop two evenings in a row. On the third day my husband decided to let the chickens out of the fence, hoping they would return to the new coop that evening. 21 out o 24 chickens independently returned to the new coop. The other 3 returned to the old coop where my husband caught them and took them back to their new home. The following night only two hens returned to the old coop and needed assistance to find their new home. These two are apparently set in their ways. Again the next night these two hens showed up at the old coop in the evening. In anticipation of this my husband had staged a carrier there. He put the two hens in the carrier and transported them back to their new home. Keeping the flock fenced in for another day or two would probably have been enough to break their habit but he didn’t want to punish the whole flock for the actions of just these two.

I’m glad I didn’t publish this post yesterday when two of the hens had still not accepted their new home because last night when my husband closed up the coop all 24 chickens had independently found their way to the new coop. Woo Hoo! Cue Happy dance!

The other thing the hens need to learn about their new accommodations is where to lay their eggs. My husband has put some of the hens in the nest boxes so they know where they should lay. It seems to have worked but is to early to say fore sure. Right now most of the chickens are going though a molt and have stopped laying. We are getting just one egg per day which likely means that two or three hens are laying on alternating days. Each day, however, he has found one egg in a nest box so at least those hens that are currently laying have caught on. Based on our past experience it will be some time in February before most of the hens begin laying again, so we will have to wait to see if the other hens have become familiar with their new nest boxes. At least we know that it is possible to teach an old hen new tricks. πŸ™‚

Plant Identification – Can You Help?

I know some of my readers are gardeners and plant lovers so today I am asking for your help to identify a plant that my husband so lovingly brought home for me.

Before I show it to you I want to share the cute story of how it became mine. During a recent visit to the farm store my husband noticed these unique plants in the garden section out in front of the store. There were three of this particular plant and the sign said $5.00 each. My husband selected one of the plants and took it inside. As he was walking in another man with 5 of those plants in his cart had just finished paying and was leaving the store. He stopped my husband and said “I just bought all of those. You can’t have that.” When my husband explained that there were three left outside the man showed him on his receipt that he had paid for the five in his cart plus the three that remained (including the one my husband had in his hand). He had paid half price for all of them.

Not to be deterred my husband pleaded with the other man “let me have just one. I want to give it to my wife. She would love it.” Eventually the man relented choosing the smallest and least healthy looking of the bunch and handing it to my husband. My husband handed him $5 (full price) and wished him a nice day.

I love the plant almost as much as I love what my husband did to get it for me. The problem is that there was no tag in the container telling me the name of the plant or anything else about it. Thus I’m asking for your help. Do you know the name of this plant?

I did a quick internet search for “plants that look like caterpillars” but only came up with photos of caterpillars on plants.

Other questions I have are: what are the growing requirements for this plant – does it like full sun or partial shade? Does it require a lot of water or just a little? I’m also not sure if it would be best to plant it outdoors this fall and see if it will survive our winter or if I should over winter it in the house and plant it out next spring. If you are familiar with this plant please tell me what you know about it.

2021 Garden Update

It’s been quiet here on my blog lately. Have you noticed? I have started several posts (like this one) but just haven’t felt much like writing. I’m not really sure why, but it could be several things combined. It’s been a strange year – the weather, national and world events, and things that have happened in our personal lives. We have had a lot of things keeping us busy, and in the past 5 or 6 weeks three people that we loved have passed away. It is likely these things that have given me pause. It’s been time to reflect and contemplate rather than write. I will probably write about some of these thing in future posts but for today I’ll just finish up my 2021 garden update.

You may remember that we started out this gardening season, late May/early June, in a drought but by the end of June that situation had begun to correct itself. It continued to over-correct throughout the rest of the summer. Having too much rain has probably been our most frustrating gardening experience thus far because there is just nothing we can do about it. If we had too little rain we could water the plants, and if we had had problems with bugs or diseases we would try to find (organic) solutions.

Normally Swiss chard, beets and green beans are among the first vegetables we harvest and eat. This year we have no beets or Swiss chard and only a handful of green beans after my husband replanted them in during a mid summer dry spell. The beets and Swiss chard that he planted at that time did not produce. 😦 Corn, squash and melons were also duds this year – some of the plants grew none of them produced fruit to harvest.

Despite all of our gardening woes and worries we did harvest some fruits and vegetables. Thus far we have enjoyed potatoes, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, tomatoes and one egg plant. I have made boiled potatoes and garlic mashed potatoes; jalapeno and banana pepper poppers, cucumber salad (with onion, dill and sour cream) refrigerator dill pickles, veggie omelets (with tomato, green pepper, yellow pepper and jalapeno) and fresh salsa on taco night. We’ve also been enjoyed fresh tomatoes just quartered up with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and my husband had his favorite tomato sandwich (sliced tomato on white bread with mayo).

Oh, we also harvested okra but I can’t really say we enjoyed that very much. LOL!

Jalapeno Poppers
Refrigerator Dill Pickles

A week ago Saturday I finished canning tomato juice. I ended up with 41 quarts of juice which I will eventually cook down into 10-12 quarts of sauce. I have also have made about 4 quarts of sauce so far. Considering that we originally had around 100 tomato plants in the garden our yields this year were low.

This year blueberries were the star of the show. Despite getting hit with several nights of freezing temperatures this spring while they were blossoming, then suffering drought conditions followed by all the rain, and having their leaves eaten by gypsy moth caterpillars our blueberry crop was nearly the same as it has been in recent years. I have many quarts of blueberries in the freezer for pies, pancakes, sorbet, and to add to my banana bread. I might even make a batch of blueberry jam. πŸ™‚

Apples are another crop that out-preformed our expectations after our late season frosts/freezes. Even though they mostly came from one tree (we have seven trees) we ended up with about three milk crates full of apples.

While they may look flawed on the outside, beneath the skin they are beautiful and quite tasty.

They make wonderful apple pie and apple sauce. Thus far I have made pie filling for 4 pies (3 in the freezer and 1 that we ate) and canned 20 pints of apple sauce. I’m still working at it and will probably end up with enough filling for 4-6 more pies by the time I’m done.

Last but not least we harvested some grapes. During the summer we discovered that the grapes had black rot, a fungus that will quickly destroy a crop. We did some pruning to allow more air flow and sprayed them thoroughly with copper sulfate. These actions saved most of the crop. Earlier this month, as the grapes began to ripen we weren’t the only ones to notice. Birds became frequent visitor to the vines and the grapes began to disappear. Last week we decided it was now or never, so we picked the bunches that still remained. We harvested about 5 pounds of grapes which I turned into juice. It only made about 3 pints of juice but it complements our breakfast nicely.

While our plans for a wonderful garden with lots of produce to preserve did not come to pass this year, I remind myself the God doesn’t always give us what we want but He always gives us what we need. For this I am thankful.

Thanks for visiting. Did you grow a garden this year? How did your garden grow?

Mushrooms, Mushrooms and More Mushrooms

The clouds hung low and the air was thick with moisture when my husband went to open up the chicken coop this morning. It’s yet another day with rain in the forecast. Upon his return my husband announced, “we are all going to turn into mushrooms!” I quickly replied, “at least you will be a fun guy (fungi)”. We both had a good laugh and he had given me a great opening for this post which was already in the works. πŸ™‚

Mushrooms are not something that I am knowledgeable about other than to know that identification can be tricky and many wild mushrooms are poisonous. Thus we never consume wild mushrooms. I do, however, find it fascinating how they suddenly appear in random places, their spores having been carried by the wind, then waiting until conditions are right for them to mature. It’s not unusual to see wild mushrooms pop up in around here but some of the mushrooms we have seen lately are unusual.

Here are some photos I took over the weekend.

Thanks for visiting.

Hidden Pictures

Who’s hiding in this picture?

Can you see it?

(Keep scrolling)

How about here?

(keep scrolling)

There it is. Isn’t it cute?

This baby deer spent 3 days hanging out in the area around our barn. When my husband first encountered it he or she was lying on a stack of lumber that my husband had left on the porch of the barn. We were inclined to think that it was abandoned, or more likely orphaned, because of it’s close proximity to the barn where we spend so much time. Also because it was there for so long. After those three days it was gone, so it now seems as though momma came for it, and more than likely it is now tagging along behind her.