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backyard chickens

Winter Garden

Farmer LifeBetsy FarmerComment
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The sun finally came out today, after being foggy all morning. I knew it was hiding up there and waiting for the perfect time to shine. Once it did, the chickens were scratching to get out of their coop and join me in some weeding fun.

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There is something magical about digging in the garden during the off season. The girls get to scratch, peck, and dig to their hearts content without me worrying about tender sprouts being ruined. They collect fresh worms and get their beaks dirty in the cool soil.

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Pretty soon I’ll get my little garden journal out and plan what to plant in these beds, the anticipation of what to grow bringing a sense of giddiness. Every year, we have potatoes sprout from areas where we always seem to miss a few baby ones the year before. Always fun to have them grow and even more fun to dig them up.

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These sunny days are few and far between here in the Pacific Northwest, so the plan is to take advantage of them as much as possible. Kids will be running around outside all weekend, we have dinner plans with friends we haven’t seen in way too long, and maybe these garden beds will all get weeded so they’re ready for early spring veggies.

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Enjoy your weekend friends!

xo,

B

p.s. Huge thanks to my mom for sewing me a pair of Burnside Bibs last year!! They’re the perfect addition to my gardening wardrobe! ;)

Trip Around My Garden

Farmer LifeBetsy FarmerComment

Spring time is one of my favorite times of year in my little garden.  Going out there in the early mornings and after the sun goes behind the hillside is so lovely.  The birds are chirping, the toads are croaking, the bees are humming and my chickens are clucking.  Every sound, every smell brings a sense of peace that is hard to find elsewhere.  

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The bumblebees and mason bees have been loving our lavender and raspberry flowers right now. 

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The beginning of broccoli.  Crossing my fingers it doesn't bolt before the heat sets in.  

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My metal hen...constantly watching over the garden.  ;)

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And our blueberries. Oh our blueberries.   We love them! 

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Chicken Fun Run

Farmer Life, KnittingBetsy FarmerComment

My husband rocks. Seriously, he's the best.  Just sayin'.  

He puts up with my crazy ideas, my nightly knitting, and the little projects I'll throw his way from time to time.  Like this one...a chicken fun run!

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Isn't it great?!?   My idea was something extremely simple.  Something to keep them contained so they wouldn't go running off or sneak under the deck or roost on the BBQ (yes, I know the irony there.  Believe me, I find it hard to roast a chicken on the grill while my girls are 2 feet away).  

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I showed him some ideas that I liked and we tweeked a couple things.  I wanted it to be light weight, portable, and simply keep them contained and deter predators a little bit.  Yes, I know this is not predator proof, but it's not intended for that.  This is just for while I'm out there with them or have to run in the house for a little bit.  Plus, it will fit in my raised beds, which is perfect for when I'm not growing anything in them and they can aerate, poop, and dig for worms as much as they want.  

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Here are some details, in case you're dying to build one too.  We used 8' 1x2s for the long horizontal bars and then 4' boards for the others.  Kreg-jigged the corners, stapled heavy duty plastic netting (to keep the weight down instead of using metal wire) around the frames, and secured the corners with metal corner things - yes, I don't know what they're called.  LOL!  4 hinges on top allow for easy folding and storage.  Plus, he stained it for me because well, it looks better that way.  HA!  

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As for getting them in here, we simply lifted it up on one end, threw down some meal worms and in they went.  Easy peasy....except the one who wouldn't come out of the regular coop.   There's one in every crowd, right?  

And that my friends, is our chicken fun run! 

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First Egg

Betsy Farmer2 Comments

It's here everyone!!  As an expectant egg mama for 21 weeks and 2 days, I'm proud to introduce our first egg!  All the work to build the coop (thanks mom), the run (thanks hubs), the bags and bags of feed, the close-eye evening free ranging, the sweaty cleaning of the coop/run workouts, the photo shoots, the singing to them in the wee hours of the morning, the cutting up of food scraps for them....it's here.  Finally.  All our hard work paid off.  There's only one glitch...it's probably fertilized.  

Oops.  

Ew.  (If you watch Jimmy, you'll know to read that 'Ew' in the right tone)

Gross.  I bet my friend, who won't eat brown eggs, would really love to eat this one. 

Yeah, you know that rooster I was telling you about last month?  Well, we kinda (well, not kinda, we did) caught him having a little fun with one of our hens this past weekend.  I was out picking green beans and heard squawking.  Turned around and there was Lucy on top of Mille!  At first I was thinking, 'What's going on?  What's he doing?' and then the light bulb went off and OH MY GOODNESS!  

I screamed, 'Get off her!' and banged on the wire.  It worked.  For about an hour, until Lucy decided he wanted to go again.  Not more than 10 minutes later I messaged a lady in our neighborhood, who keeps chickens, asking her if she wanted him.  She hasn't told me yes or no.  Maybe I'll message her one more time.  Right now.  

I don't have anything against roos, I just don't want to worry about eating fertilized eggs.  I just want nice, fat, gentle laying hens in my flock.  If I want a baby chick, I'll head on down to the feed store and get one.  Is that wrong?  

Some of our friends want to eat Lucy.  I'm on the verge of going over to the dark side and doing that but our poor first born loves his Lucy.  Of course his baby chick turned out to be a roo.  So, we have ourselves a dilemma .  

But for now, I'm going to be proud of this egg.  I'm going to give the girls and boy a couple extra treats and free range time today.  

 

 

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Cock-a-doodle-do

Betsy FarmerComment

We have a rooster.  Well, we are 90% sure we have a rooster.  It all started a couple weeks ago, in the wee hours of the morning.  

We were awakened at around 4:30 by what sounded like a kid outside yelling, 'Hey mom'...only in a weird, raspy voice.  At first we didn't know what the heck was going on.  And then BAM...it hit us...was that a chicken trying to crow??? No!  

A few mornings went by of hearing 'hey mom' outside our window.  Then when I was in the front yard last week, I heard a perfect 'cock-a-doodle-do'.   I ran back to the coop and try to figure out which chicken it is.  I couldn't tell which chicken it was because we have two chickens that we are in question of.  Our Buff Chantecler and our Russian Orloff.  

After reading all about sexing chickens, I now know that one of the differences between hens and roosters is their saddle feathers.  Hens have rounded saddle feathers at the end and roosters have pointed ones.   You'd think it would be rather easy to tell the difference but for some reason, it's not for us.  

But.....this morning, while feeding the ducks, I heard the rooster and snuck around to see if I could tell which chicken was making his sound.  Sure enough, there was 'Lucy' standing at the door of the coop, hollering away while the other chickens were still tucked safely inside the coop!  

I'm a bit saddened to now know that this cute little chick will not be providing us with fresh eggs.

Instead, that cute little chick now looks like this and runs around like a crazy rooster while I'm running around like a crazy farm girl trying to get HIM back in the coop at night! 

Now the BIG question every backyard chicken owner must ask herself....do I keep him?  

Farmer Life

Farmer LifeBetsy FarmerComment

Technically, I'm not a farm girl.  I don't live on acres and acres of land.  I don't own a barn or a cow to put in the barn.  But...my last name does qualify me to call myself a Farmer.  Yee Haw!  

This whole comeback of urban farming that you've been seeing all over Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, etc...has been the greatest thing for this farm girl.  Urban farming, chicken raising, organic gardening...these are all subjects of my current reading selections.  I have books scattered all over the living room, kitchen counters, nightstand...pretty much anywhere I may sit down for 5 minutes.  Shoot, I even have an orcharding magazine on my front porch.  

Though I'm very new to everything pertaining to the urban farm, I'm dreaming of it.  We have 6 chickens, 2 ducklings, 6 fruit trees, 8 blueberry bushes and far too many slugs.  I've found I can grow green beans but not zucchini.  Who can't grow zucchini you ask?  This farm girl can't.  Seriously, I've tried for 3 years now and got nothing.  Some day.  

Here are some photos taken around the "farm" this week.  Enjoy!

Butt....I do get to have these girls to look at every day. 

Butt....I do get to have these girls to look at every day. 

I love how a couple of these pea blooms are dark purple.  

I love how a couple of these pea blooms are dark purple.  

Grow corn...grow!!  

Grow corn...grow!!  

Attempting to grow potatoes in a wire cage with straw and dirt...we shall see. 

Attempting to grow potatoes in a wire cage with straw and dirt...we shall see. 

Green beans are so exciting to watch change every day! 

Green beans are so exciting to watch change every day! 

Oh, and I guess I can grow blueberries.  I bought this plant last year and it was so fun to watch it change through the seasons.

Oh, and I guess I can grow blueberries.  I bought this plant last year and it was so fun to watch it change through the seasons.

And there ya have it.  Enjoy your weekend!

 

~B