Now that we are all home bound (for the most part) we have been playing around with the camera on our walks outside to get fresh air. Besides the obvious concern for everyone’s health and the looming hit on the worldwide economy, it has been interesting to see how it has affected the natural world around us. Here is an interesting article from The Atlantic that discusses what seismologists around the world have noticed as countries have been affected by COVID-19.
You can view a gallery of photos we took in our yard by visiting the Photography page of our website. Enjoy. Be safe, Be smart.
You read that right… in the coop. You get use to the sound of the chickens making a racket over the slightest thing; announcing that they just laid an egg… the sun is coming up, there’s a dog in the yard… all the normal, everyday stuff. This sounded different though. There was some panic to it. And with good reason.
Seems the cold days of winter have made finding food a bit more difficult for wild life. I had noticed the red tailed hawk circling above just the day before. It’s nothing new, but this time it was a bit lower in the sky and it was being harassed by a much smaller bird. It flew off to the west and I didn’t give it anymore thought.
Our coop is inside the barn and fully enclosed with chicken wire, top to bottom. It’s doubled up with 1″ chicken wire on the bottom 3 feet for added protection to keep out the raccoons and skunks. There is a run for them to get outside and enjoy when they can’t free range. Plenty of room for all 25 of the girls. Not only is it fenced in 8 feet high, it has a couple of strands of electric fence around it to also help keep them safe from the critters who love the taste of chicken. Doesn’t everyone? There are also strands of wire strung across the top of the run every 18″. Just enough to foil the wingspan of aerial predators… or so we thought.
Seems this raptor had been checking out the “Stacy Homestead Restaurant” and found his way through those wires and into the run. He wasn’t even fazed by the plastic owl with the head that swivels in the wind. Now I don’t know the first things about birds of prey other than, don’t mess with them. This guy was thrashing around in the coop when I walked into the barn and once he saw me, he began to guard his dinner, wings spread wide, as you can see the the photo gallery below.
Eggshell color does not change nutrients in the egg. The color of the shell is simply decoration and is determined by which breed of chicken you own.
A little known fact: You may be able to tell the shell color by the hen’s earlobe. Hens with white earlobes typically lay white or lightly tinted eggs. Hens with red earlobes most commonly lay brown eggs. Info obtained from countrysidenetwork.com
We spent the afternoon at Tanglewood seeing Steve Martin and Martin Short. Plenty of laughs. After, we drove over to Camp Becket to relax by the lake. Summer is over and the sounds of youthful exuberance is gone with it. Calm, quite, and relaxing.
Having vacation days to burn before the end of the fiscal year, I took a couple of days off recently to get a few little things done around the property. Our weekends have been pretty booked, and when they haven’t, mother nature hasn’t been helping in the weather department.
We are doing our regular raised bed garden this year but have decided to also try “straw bale gardening“. Our friend Heidi told us about her success with it last year and we figured we would give it a shot. We started by prepping the bales about three weeks prior to planting. The chickens have been producing plenty of nice, nitrogen rich, fertilizer since last summer, so we used a layer of their compost on top of the bales and soaked them down every other day with rainwater collected from the barn roof. Once the weather finally turned for the better and we were reading to plant, the bales had started to breakdown. We have a few tomato and pepper plants going and are excited to see how they fare.
We watched YouTube videos on the subject and here is just one of the several we watched. This one is by The 52 Week Gardener
Next on the list was doing something to protect the chickens from aerial predators like hawks and owls. We looked into various ways of doing this and settled on running stainless steel wire side to side across the top of the run.
The wires are about 12″ apart from each other which doesn’t allow the birds to fly down into the chicken run. Their wingspan would be too wide. It may be hard to see in this photo, but if you click on it you can see the full resolution version of it. We haven’t had an issue with flying predators, but after taking precautions for fox, raccoon, etc. with electric fencing and buried wire around the perimeter of the run, we decided we didn’t want to leave “death from above” to chance.
It’s nice to be able to get outside and accomplish a few things again. Welcome Spring!
In our house, we don’t refrigerate unless they have been wash. Occasionally the hens will leave behind a dirty egg and it just has to be washed. Otherwise, we load them into the “metal hen” our neighbors gave us as a gift… I think they felt bad that the wintered in the FLA while we battled a very cold, New England, winter. We can’t wait for retirement, but that’s an entirely different story.
Check out this article on how things are in Europe. With all the precautions that are taken in the US, the instances of salmonella are less in Europe. Interesting…
Spring has the critters moving and this bear is pretty interested in the bird feeder, (video 1) and the camera, (video 2). He has been around for a few weeks now and I actually encountered him one evening outside our barn. He was joyfully munching away on the bird feeder he has ripped down from it’s “protected” spot hanging from the end of the barn rafter. Still don’t know how he manged to get that one down. <head scratch> Anyway, we stared at each other for that frozen moment in time that seemed much longer than the 1.25 seconds that it actually was, before he ran off into the woods.
Well, now that we have him on film, it’s time to put the feeders away for the season.