The Beginning of the New Home

It took a little bit to build, but the new, permanent pen is up. Extra added bonus? When we sell the house, it can be positioned as a large dog run.

The new and improved permanent chicken pen.

The new and improved permanent chicken pen.

The A-frame coop fits in nicely, although it’s not there forever. But when a few house projects are completed, we can start on the semi-permanent coop. I say “semi-permanent” as it will be movable (for tax purposes!). I don’t believe we’ll get that done this year, but the chickens can overwinter in the hoop house again. And I’ll be able to move them out sooner now that the pen is up.

We are cutting back the apple trees as they are so overgrown — in the meantime, the logs make a nice jungle gym for the flock.

The biggest concern are the guineas. I don’t want to lose their bug eat capability by keeping them locked up. And, since they spend so many months cooped up with the hens, they want to bed down with them at night. Fortunately, Penny/Marcia/Kelly are able to get out of the pen quite nicely. It’s more difficult putting them back at night — they’re so skittish! But they do go in as they want to go in. I’ve also noticed the entire flock is quieter now they have moved outside. They can go “downstairs” when they wake up and scratch around until I show up to let them out.

Once the new and improved watering system is in place, we’ll be kicking. Oh, and the plastic bags? My theory is that it will discourage the hens from jumping over. Once we get the deer netting up, they’ll go away.

Well, it’s off to mow and enjoy the sun between the rain showers. Dandelion season is here!

The last class for the Master Gardener session in Goffstown, NH. Guess which one is Babs?

The last class for the Master Gardener session in Goffstown, NH. Guess which one is Babs?

 

Don’t forget to visit www.EggCartons.com and show some love!

Blue Hen House

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Spring Still ALMOST Here

So I thought I would be much farther along. We had gotten some really warm days — warm enough that I put a screen on the hoop house door to help keep the flock from overheating before I could move them outside.

I added "steps" to the ramp. It makes it easier for the birds to move up and down the coop.

I added “steps” to the ramp. It makes it easier for the birds to move up and down the coop.

Boy was I wrong.

Temps have been up and down, which isn’t too dog-awful, but we’ve had a frost or two and some really bitter, raw cold days. Argh. So I’ve put off putting seedlings in Winona’s space to harden them off.

However, I have not been completely complacent. I’ve made improvements to the coop. We’ve started building what should be an escape-proof pen (for the chickens — guineas are free to roam!). And I let the flock out late in the day. This gives them exercise and greens, but generally not enough time to lay eggs all over the place or roam the neighborhood. The coop is still a work in progress, but progress has been made.

I made a nesting box out of a paper garden pot. And you can see the first little guinea egg in it!

I made a nesting box out of a paper garden pot. And you can see the first little guinea egg in it!

The biggest and best news is one of the guineas has laid eggs! Now, not many and by the time they were found they were ice-cold so I didn’t try to incubate them. The first one I found I put in the new nesting box. My hope is it would entice her to lay there again. No such luck. I few days later my husband found a couple of eggs in the yard, just out in the open. Sigh! One thing at a time.

I also scored a 3lb package of bees. I have ordered a nuc that should be arriving mid-month. So two hives this year! The class I took at BeePride, in Lebanon, Maine, was great and I am much more confident that these will survive the winter — barring any major screw-ups by me. I’ll keep you posted.

And here’s a point of note for all you chicken lovers: Hygiene! The CDC just reported that an uptick of salmonella outbreaks are linked to backyard chickens. Biggest problems areas: keeping chickens in the house and kissing them.

I changed the orientation of the window openings so they can stay open in the rain and keep the airflow going in the upstairs of the coop.

I changed the orientation of the window openings so they can stay open in the rain and keep the airflow going in the upstairs of the coop.

Now I am fond of my girls. And I love that I can carry Guapo around without worry. (I don’t always use the football carry with him. Many times, I carry him like a baby — not on his back, but cradled in both arms. He’s pretty mellow.) But I always wear gloves when working with the girls, because of my salmonella concern. If for some reason I don’t have gloves, I wash my hands right away. And I would think twice before kissing them. Three or four times even. And I don’t think I would. Because of the salmonella concern.

For that matter, I wash my hands every time I handle eggs with my bare hands. So people — hygiene! Chickens aren’t dogs or cats. And you should wash your hands after playing with your mammalian pets, too. There’s no excuse for the salmonella outbreaks.

On another note, I read a very interesting article about the interactions of atheists and their Christian family and friends. I tend to agree with the author’s premise… I’m not going to dissect it here. Read it for yourself, it’s not long and offers a rational explanation about some of the demands Christians make of atheists. I’ve been fortunate that no one has asked me to do this, except the church thing. A former boyfriend made a big deal about attending church on major religious holidays. Frankly, I think that’s just rude. It shows a huge lack of respect. Hence the former boyfriend status.

So on that note, here’s the flock enjoying the sun, even when it’s cold:

Love the chicken butts. They're happily foraging on their first afternoon out.

Love the chicken butts. They’re happily foraging on their first afternoon out.

 

Enjoying the almost spring!

Enjoying the almost spring!

Show some love and help feed the girls!

And until the next time, enjoy the longer days and upcoming summer warmth!

Blue Hen House