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.
Video 1 – That Feeder Smells Good
Video 2 – Time for your closeup
The video was taken with the Moultrie M-888 Game Camera. The date is off on the video by a month. It was actually captured February 6, 2018. (Not sure how I missed that in the settings) I placed a dead, and frozen solid, squirrel in view of the camera in hopes of seeing some sort of activity.
Been playing around with our new $19.99 security camera from Wyze Labs and have to say that we have been pretty impressed so far with the device. Even with our pitifully slow DSL connection we are able to connect to the app and live stream the video.
The cameras are not weatherproof, so we are making sure to keep it under cover of some sort.
We’ve been told that the chickens will stop laying in the shorter, colder days of winter here in New England. We are in the midst of a pretty good cold spell now, and it doesn’t look to get above 15° for the next week. Nighttime lows have been sub zero with the barn getting down to 10 or 12 degrees.
So far the girls are earning their keep. The “easter-egger” breeds have slowed a bit, but we continue to get 14 to 16 eggs a day from 29 hens.
In order to help keep them warm, we give them scratch grains right before they are ready to roost for the night. The process of digesting the grains raises their body temperature.