Treats, Feathers, Bees

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Beulah and a quint. After devouring the watermelon!

So I’ve been giving the girls left over salad and fruit. They love it. As you can see, the watermelon rind has been picked absolutely clean. They like strawberries, lettuce, blueberries, and fresh corn. Now if I could only get them to eat weeds!

The weather has been up and down: overcast, rain, sun; overcast, rain, sun. Not that I miss the overwhelming heat and humidity of the holiday weekend, but a break from the rain and humidity would be nice. I am able to open the back door to the coop, though, unless it’s windy and rainy, and that helps keep it aired out. I also got the last of the flashing up on the roof today so Mr. Henhouse can now move on to the finish trim.

Otherwise, the girls are doing quite well. As you can see, the quint in the photos is slightly bigger than Beulah. They’re going to be big girls when they are done growing up. They are also sounding like hens and not chicks. My little peeps are all grown up! Well, almost. No eggs yet.

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Lots of pretty feathers and no where to go.

The keets are also doing well. Growing feathers like crazy! They seem to grow faster than chickens. They will be ready to move into the big crate this weekend and their bodies look to be almost fully feathered. Their little heads still have fluff and stripes. I’m looking forward to them running around with all the extra room. And I’m sure I’ve said this, but they talk and eat constantly. They’ve started to exhibit grooming behavior. Not surprising with the feathers coming out. I did notice they seem more easily startled in the opaque tub where before, in the smaller transparent tub, they were more calm. I may have to move to all transparent tubs going forward. I want them to be calm, not high-strung. But, they are young and I’m sure that’s the biggest part of the behavour.

The bees seem to be doing well. I’ll be going in this weekend to check it out and, if not too hot, apply a powder sugar treatment for mites. I prefer to do that every couple of weeks and they’ve had time to get settled to their new home. The method I learned is to put in a tray under the screen bottom of the hive (many “bottom boards” have removable trays) after spraying with a non-stick spray or oiling. As you close up the hive, you sprinkle powered sugar to the top of each box. As the bees clean off the sugar, they also dislodge mites, which fall to the tray and get stuck in the oil. You remove the tray the next day and, voila!, instantly reduced the mite colony in the hive. I dislike doing this when it’s too hot as it drastically reduces air flow and can make the hive hot. Bees are great at maintaining the temperature of the hive, but I see no need to make it more difficult for them.

I’ll end with some pictures of the bees going in the hive and enjoying milkweed bloom. No politics today. It’s too depressing.

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Bringing home the pollen!

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What do you feed your chickens?

First, I have to say “Yeah!!! The sun is back!” Well for a little while at least. Gives me a great opportunity to air out the coop. And mow.

So, what do you feed your chickens? I’m not loyal to any particular brand — it depends on what store I’m at when I need it. Right now, it’s Blue Seal Egg Layer pellets. Other times, it’s Purina. I have not seen my birds showing a dislike for either brand. I supplement with uncooked vegetable and fruit scraps. I noticed my big girls do not like greens from the table and I’m not sure about the peepers yet. I have read of some people who feed their chickens all of their table scraps, but I tend to avoid that. And there are seriously hard-core folks who make their own chicken feed from scratch. I love my girls, but honestly, I just don’t have that level of commitment.

Of course, now the little dinos have all the fresh greens from the garden beds, and I will occasionally throw weeds in that I’ve pulled from the active garden space. Plus all the bugs and worms they can find. The more variety they get in their diet, the better their eggs are, both in flavor and nutrition.

Feeling a bit nostalgic today, so here are a couple of pics from my first flock for your enjoyment.

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And today’s soapbox is women’s health. I totally don’t get the movement that wants to remove government from all aspects of private life except women’s reproduction. It is irrelevant whether you think life begins at conception or two years after a child is born. Bottom line, women have the same right and expectation of bodily autonomy as men. Women are people and should be treated as such. And that most definitely includes her reproductive system. So, I’ve provided two links for your reading pleasure. The first discusses the harm to women these new forced-birth laws are having. The second is a full-on rant about how a certain form of reproductive treatment is under threat.

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Putting Chickens to Work

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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.

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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.

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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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