Hot & Humid

Today will be a short post. The weather has cleared up here on the Seacoast of New Hampshire and it is warm! Projected to hit the 90’s. I love that. Chickens, not so much. Fortunately, the set up of the coop is such the girls always have shade. I’ll be monitoring the water levels to ensure they are well hydrated. I expect to see a lot of “bowl” digging — the girls making a shallow bowl in the ground and sitting in it.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of the Queens of the Henhouse:

Queens of the Henhouse

Wynona and Beulah: the Queens of the Henhouse!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Putting Chickens to Work

Beautiful Winona

Beautiful Winona — Beautiful but peckish.

We have a few raised garden beds and due to this, that, and the other thing, we just haven’t been able to garden like we’ve wanted to over the past few years. However, this year, we’re making a new commitment, including making changes in our activities, so we can get the vegetables going.

One of our raised beds is so overgrown that we moved the chickens there so they could tear it up while getting a ton of fresh greens. While not their permanent home  (we’re discussing the feasability of building a larger henhouse with attached run and “subdivisions” for meat birds and turkeys), it will make a great summer home.

So we put up a temporary fence around the garden, moved the A-frame coop in there and let them have at it. Not only does it give the girls fresh greens, worms, and bugs, but more room to roam and has eliminated what few integration issues they had. And we’ll get a nice, clean, naturally fertilized garden bed for either fall crops or next spring.

Beulah

Beulah enjoying her new home.

I also noticed this week one of the quints has some light brown markings on her wings. So, while she remains a quintuplet, her name is now Dirty Girl.

Dirty Girl n Sisters

Dirty Girl is to the left.

All in all, it’s going well. We still need to finish the coop the girls are in. That means I need a ridge vent so I can remove the tarp, add some lovely barn red stain to the outside, and develop creative ways to water and feed the girls so I’m not out there twice a day. One thing at a time.

And a quick follow up to my GMO comments last week. For you more technical readers, here’s a link to an article on the effects of GMO food products on animals.

Also, a link to a biologist/biochemist thoughts on GMOs.

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Peepers are integrated & Thoughts on GMOs

ImageIt’s been rainy here and I so do not do well in cold wet weather. So nothing gets done. However, I did stay on top of the integration as I needed to get the little birds in the coop. I saw a post in Community Chickens that described the use of squirt bottles to discourage the big hens from beating up the smaller birds too much and I like it. A lot. My squirt bottle sprays more of a mist than a directed spray — I think I should change mine out for a directed spray — but the mist did work. The hens really don’t like it and it stops them in their tracks. So Brownie and Quintuplets spent the night in the coop.

What I found interesting is the big girls, while waiting on us to complete the coop, have already divided the upstairs into two parts: One where they lay eggs, and one where they sleep. The two Quintuplets above are in the laying area. It has a doors on both sides to allow me to reach in and gather eggs.

What you don’t see, and I’ll take a picture when we’ve finished moving the coop, is the opposite side of the laying area, just above the ramp. There’s a narrow walkway around the opening for the ramp and that is where the birds decided to sleep. Big girls at the top of the ramp, peepers to the side. Very cute.

Now I’m going to digress a bit — you’ll see I do that from time to time.First Hive

I started keeping bees a few years ago. I was doing okay until this last winter when they all died. So I’ll be picking up a nuc this weekend. To stay on top of bee news, I subscribe to the free email newsletter from Bee Culture and this week it contained a very interesting article on genetically modified food (GMOs).

The gist of the article is while consumers want to know if what they are eating is genetically modified through the use of proper labeling, Congress seems to disagree. They are adding an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill that would revoke the rights of states to pass GMO-labeling laws. That seems very anti-consumer to me.

To quote Kim Flottum, author of the article: “The labeling of genetically modified food is ground zero of the controversy over GMOs made by companies like Monsanto and Dupont, and the issue is likely to grow even more divisive as food safety groups butt heads with Congress and Big Ag over the right to know what is on our plates.”

Congress is wrong on this one. Studies on the impact of GMOs on humans are inconclusive, however, what I’ve been able to read shows it might not be as benign as their creators say they are. More study is definitely needed. Preferably by government funded, independent researchers so there is no “taint” of corporate dollars skewing the results.

Even if they prove to be completely benign, consumers have the right to know what they are buying. (I mean seriously, wasn’t that one of the complaints from hardcore individuals about the mortgage scandal — that consumers should know what kind of mortgage they are buying?) That’s all consumers are requesting here — more information to make informed decisions.

Even if GMO food products prove to be completely benign, as a consumer, it’s my right to know what I am buying and to decide what to spend my money on. I can’t make an informed decision when companies are allowed to hide information. From where I sit, that is the critical piece in all of this, information. My right to know and to make decisions that are best for me. (I think there’s a whole free market argument in here as well, but that’s another discussion for another time.)

Blue Hen House

Hello World!

Babs has chickens again so Babs Hen House is up on WordPress! With a readership today of exactly zero. 🙂

I’ll be chronicling my chicken escapades, but will definitely throw in other topics of interest to me.

This is my second flock. The first, of about 18 chickens, I gave away a few years ago as I thought we might lose the house. (Corporate lay-offs have played havoc with my, and my husband’s, employment over the last several years.) I missed my little feathered dinosours though, and made an impulse purchase of two birds at the Deerfield Fair last fall. My darling husband picked up six chicks a few months ago — all in time for another lay-off!

Winona and Peeps

This is Winona and two of the chicks. Five of the chicks look exactly the same so I call them the Quintuplets.

I’m currently integrating the peepers with the big girls. Winona and Beulah are a little snippy, especially Winona. She’s kinda mean even though she’s had plenty of time to adjust. I put the peepers in a temporary pen next to the coop, so they could eyeball each other, for a good two weeks. I’ve started to mix them up in the day, but am finding the big girls a little too aggressive to fully integrate. So, the peepers are sleeping in a dog crate at night, covered and protected. I’m hoping to finalize the integration in a couple of weeks. It’s a real pain to maintain what is essentially two coops.

Speaking of which, my husband is building the main coop, and it’s about 80% done. I’ll start posting photos when the weather clears up. The poles you see on the ground in the above photo is how we’re moving the coop — sliding it to its semi-permanent position. I was very clear I wanted a mobile coop, with wheels — somehow it started to morph into something a little more permanent. Sigh! One thing at a time — Babs

Blue Hen House