Chickens

More Chicken Adventures

I have been so busy trying to keep the coop clean, keep the run clean, and finding ideas for shade for my chickens. So, I am going to share what I have learned.

First, Sweet PDZ is freaking amazing.

I purchased two bags from Tractor Supply (I bought all they had) and sprinkled about two cups in the problem areas of the coop I sort of mixed it into the bedding so it was spread from the floor to the top by the time I was finished. I was being attacked by flies, mosquitoes, and gnats while I was doing this. An hour later, I went back into the coop because I had to spread some fresh bedding before Cheep Cheep Bedtime. Oh my gawd. The difference was beyond amazing. The smell was gone, the flying annoyances were gone, and I smelled absolutely nothing except for the pine shavings. I will never be without this amazing stuff again. This bag was around $8.00 I believe. It worked so quickly to reduce odor and moisture.

I also built the flock a hidey hole.

My youngest kiddo helped by cutting half of the bottom of the barrel off and then filing down rough edges. Then, he drilled holes in the bottom in the 5 pattern on dice for drainage just in case rainwater blows into the hidey hole.

When that was completed, I washed the barrel thoroughly with soap and water and then dried it. I added a nice fluffy layer of fine cut pine shavings and sweet PDZ. Then we put it in place in the run and added a cinderblock on each side so it would stay in place and no rolling away. I think the best part is that perching on top of it is rather difficult because it’s both rounded and a smooth surface. They will eventually figure out how to perch on it, but for now, it will stay poop-free. I also added a nice flat rock in front of it so they had a bit of a step to get inside easier. A few jumped in and right back out, but they were all interested.

While all of this was being inspected, I scooped up Chicken Little for a quick snuggle. He was so mad at me when I put him down. I think I may have embarrassed him in front of all of his women.

While I was at Tractor Supply, I picked up the next two stages of feed, oyster shell for added calcium, two 5-gallon buckets so, I can start fermenting their feed, and another waterer because temperatures are rising in Oklahoma.

I also grabbed a bag of scratch grains because the run is pretty much just dirt now and I wanted them to have something to scratch for. I bring in oodles of weeds and grasses every day for them.

I made them a dedicated dustbath from a sprint car tire, which hubby was kind enough to fold in half for me because these tires are HUGE. This folded tire will not collect water at all. I have to get some sand, gather some ash from the fire pit, and add some peat, but it is getting there. They love the tire because it’s nice to perch on.

I raked the run and put everything into a pile, which they essentially compost for me because they dig through it and I rake it back up and then, this cycle is repeated until there’s nothing left except for soil.

They chase the rake back and forth through the run as I am raking because I usually end up causing grasshoppers to jump or worms to be above ground. They go absolutely crazy for grasshoppers.

At the end of each raking they have a fun pile to dig through to find bugs and other tasty bits.

I FINALLY GOT VIDEO!!! Chicken Little is developing his crow and he sounds like a squeaky toy when he crows and it is just freaking adorable. (This was taken before the run was raked so you can see just how messy it is)

They have so much personality and seem to love my phone. They are also very attracted to my mint green nails and constantly trying to eat them. My toenails were also amusement when I made the mistake of wearing flip flops one night to put them to bed. My toenails are Tiffany and Co blue so I’m guessing they looked tasty too because I had a lot of beaks pecking at my toes. I normally wear my muck boots or tennis shoes, but I was tired and too lazy to put on real shoes. Bad idea.

They also love to perch directly on my back or shoulders and peck at my hair ties. (Hubby mowed the yard the following day so it no longer looks like a jungle outside of the run)

We still need to finish mowing the property, but a storm was rolling in so he had to stop mowing.

I have a few more projects for the chicken run to include planting inside of the run so they always have access to fresh plant matter. This will help me because I wont have to collect weeds every single day for them to eat. I will be trying out a few different methods for planting inside of the run so, I will be sure to document the process. I am also going to attempt to transplant some bushes that are planted around the front porch to inside of the run. I know theh won’t eat these bushes and I am hopeful that they will take root and will be a nice place to provide shade for the chickens. If you haven’t noticed yet. My chickens are completely spoiled. I am doing everything possible to make sure they live happy, healthy lives while providing me with fresh eggs (they aren’t laying yet). I have been informed about bobcat, coyote, stray dog, hawk, owl, and raccoon attacks to friends with chickens who all live near me and they are all free ranging their chickens. I want mine to be completely safe so I am doing everything possible to keep them safe while also finding ways to provide them with fresh plants, plenty of crunchy bugs and squishy worms, and whatever else they need to have happy healthy lives. I don’t want them stuck in an existence of dirt and bedding so, I am looking for ways to plant inside of the run. I will be planting peas all around the run tomorrow so they will climb the fencing and the chickens can munch on fresh peas. I am looking for a way to do the same with other climbing plants so they have all sorts of tasty snacks at their disposal. Any suggestions for planting inside or right outside of the run are always welcome, just leave a comment or send an email.

Until next time….

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Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Just a bit about me and an overview of my adventures so far on our homestead

To begin, this is my very first blog and I am looking forward to the amusement that blogging about my adventures brings. I am a wife, a mother to seven kiddos, most are grown, and a single grandbaby. We are a mixed family and I have loved every minute of the adventure we began 11 years ago. It has definitely been an adventure as we have moved cross country, and watched as all, but one of the seven graduated from high school and began their own lives. Our youngest is homeschooled and we began homeschooling for his junior year at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. This is our family and now, this is our homestead.

As long as I can remember, I always wanted to live on a huge farm with cows, chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, horses, and any other animals that I could find. I grew up in the city so, farms just had this image of wonder and excitement as far as I was concerned.  I managed to make that dream from childhood into a similar reality. While we don’t have a farm, we do have a ten acre homestead in rural Oklahoma. I fell in love with the house and property the minute I saw it. That was three years ago and I have finally settled in enough to plant my roots and make this a functional homestead. Hubby and I purchased the homestead a little over 3 years ago and we haven’t done much in the way of animals or a huge garden, but we have done far more projects inside of the house to make it our own. I still have a purple kitchen, which I absolutely hate, but I will eventually change that.

Our homestead is currently occupied with myself, hubby, our adult daughter and her fiance, our son who starts his senior year of high school in the fall, 2 cats, a husky/wolf mix, 2 horses we board for a friend, and an unknown number of barn kitties. (I believe there are four, but my son has seen random kitties all over the property and Little Momma is currently pregnant with a litter of kittens.) If I could catch her, I would gladly get her fixed, but she has yet to fall for any of my attempts at tricking her into a cage. I feed the barn kitties and they have free access to the old dairy building, which is used for storage of racecar parts by hubby and as a tackroom for the boarding horses.

Now that you know a bit about me and the critters I do have, I will give you some background on the honestead, projects that have been completed and the to-do list for spring.

Since purchasing the house and property, the projects have been nonstop. The house was built in 1918 and was originally a dairy on a massive amount of land. Eventually, the land was sectioned off and sold bit by bit leaving the original homestead and ten acres remaining. The house has been updated so, we don’t have a coal furnace or anything weird like that, though I want to eventually have a wood stove installed for power outages during ice storms and snowstorms. Plus, a wood stove would heat the house saving on electric bills, which are always expensive no matter where you live.

The projects that have been completed are as follows:

Compost bin with 3 fenced sections built

New roll pipe installed on the well so the pump no longer has to be pulled up by hand (I can’t even begin to tell you how worth it this investment has been.)

Sections of fencing replaced so livestock cannot escape (We don’t have any livestock yet, but we will eventually and we board two horses for a friend)

Flower beds and two raised beds completed

Fire pit was built

And finally we have trash service with a dumpster so no more driving to the dump twice a week. (Also worth every single penny.)

The current project list, which I will be documenting as best I can are as follows:

Build a chicken coop with a run and get chicks

Build a compost unit with 2 plastic 55 gallon barrels, some 4×8’s and metal piping plus some hardware  because using a pitchfork to turn piles is killing my back.

Plant vegetable garden and an herb garden

Find a donkey for the property (we have a two stall 3 sided shelter already in place)

Cattle are a possibility, but probably won’t happen this spring. I am still researching care, feeding, and vaccinations/vetting for cattle so, I am not ready for cows just yet.

Porch swings and a tree swing

Clean up the random piles of rocks/pavers, wood, branches, and an entire barn that’s in pieces (I plan to reuse anything and everything possoble)

Plant some fruit trees

These may seem like minor projects, but I have never build anything bigger than a birdhouse so, this is all new to me. I researched chickens for several years because I wanted to make sure I knew everything possible before getting a single solitary chick. We had chickens when I was growing up, but I was far too little to remember much about their care. I can’t wait until May when I go to the feed store to get my chicks. I will be the crazy lady naming every single one of them. We are focused on eggs only for the moment so these chicks won’t be meat chickens, just layers. We have also decided to get a rooster so I can have chicks hatching on the homestead.

I do hope you will join me on my adventures in homesteading. I am probably going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, but I will make certain I learn from those mistakes instead of repeating them. We are also trying to decide on a name for our homestead. I just can’t seem to come up with anything that feels right. The Homestead on the Plains is simply a description of what we are and where. Kind of generic, but it will suffice for now.

Until next time….