Saturday, November 9, 2013

Yogurt for Chickens

A tasty and beneficial treat!

Many of us "chicken people" find joy in treating our feathered friends.  Some of us *ahem* even go so far as to prepare special chicken salads for their appreciative pets  livestock.  

I'm slightly new to the art job of chicken-keeping, so I tend to get overly enthusiastic about feeding treats to the chickens.  What can I say, it makes me feel important when they all come running to me the second I step outside.  I know they're really just using me for my food, but I choose to be delusional and think that they love me.  They really love me!

Can you see the love?

Perhaps this look of adoration could be interpreted as a look of, "put the darn camera down and feed me," but whatever.

The more these chicks (and rooster) appreciatively hungrily gobble up the special treats that I give them, the more fun I have obsessing over finding new foods to give them that are fun and healthy.  

I swear I will stop putting lines through my words now.  Moving on...

My newest treat obsession= Yogurt!  They love it.  And so do I.  I eat the plain, whole milk kind, so that's what they are getting as well.  

Sometimes they like it mixed with oatmeal.  And sometimes they indulge in a fancy, gourmet salad comprised of strawberry tops, yogurt, and flax.  

I would even eat it, if it weren't for the green stuff.  Check it out!  

I think the flock felt special, eating this.  And I felt like a gourmet chicken chef. 

 Just let me be delusional.  Simple pleasures, my friends.  

Why feed yogurt to your flock?

1.  They like it

2.  Digestion-improving, health-boosting, probiotics (they're good for chickens, too!)

3.  Calcium (you know, the stuff their shells are made of?)

Do your chickens indulge in yogurt treats?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why did the Chickens Cross the Road?

*Warning*  This post may contain severely anthropomorphic interpretations of chickens

We've encountered some uninvited guests lately.  At first I welcomed them, but that's before I learned what they were capable of.

 Yes, I was flattered when the chickens from across the road started coming over to my little yard to visit.  They just invited themselves into the coop, but I was okay with that.  The kids were excited about the "visitor chickens."

It was actually quite rude, now that I think of it.  They barged on in when my chickens weren't even home, and had the nerve to start scratching around, as chickens often do.

Eventually some of my chickens needed to utilize their coop, so they entered as well.  They were kind enough not to kick these visitors out, as some chickens would when presented with coop invaders.

One of my poor black hens was forced to lay an egg without any privacy at all. Perhaps I should put up some nesting box curtains, in case this happens in the future.  I mean, really.... she should have been more prepared, right?

  Maybe she should have laid her egg sooner in the day.  No, that's victim-blaming.  These chickens had no right to do what they did.

Still don't think they were over-stepping their farm boundaries?  Neither did I.  But now I see how they really were... their true colors may appear a rusty red, but their souls are black, I tell you.  I'm being overly dramatic, you say?  Think they're just a bunch of dumb chickens?  Looking back, I realize that they had an evil plan.  

 That harmless scratching at the ground, just doing what chickens do?  They had ulterior motives all along.  Our coop has a dirt floor.  I bet they found some good bugs in there.  Bugs that were rightfully MY chickens'.

See that lower nesting box there?  It has no straw left in it.  That is the ONLY nesting box my chickens like to use, and these rude visitor chickens kicked ALL the straw out of it, time and time again.

My children were forced to donate a plastic egg from their play kitchen, in order to place it in the upper nesting box, to convince our chickens that they should use it, instead of the straw-less lower nesting box.  My chickens were holding in their eggs, people!

I suppose these visitor chickens may not have recognized that a repurposed plant pot turned on its side is a perfectly acceptable nesting box.  Snobs.  They come from acres and acres of land, and have a beautifully crafted chicken coop complete with built- in nesting boxes that are accessible from the outside.  They must think they're better than my chickens.

Know what else they did?  They ate my chickens' layer pellets.  Lots of 'em.  And they didn't even have the common courtesy to lay me an egg.  Freeloaders!

Thankfully, our persistence in the face of adversity paid off.  My 4 year old daughter, Bayleigh, had a good feeling and decided to check the coop for eggs.  She came back to me, and excitedly reported that she saw this:

Poor thing lost some feathers from all the stress, but she saw the fake egg, and finally recognized the upper nesting box as an acceptable place to lay.

 Our plan worked!  A real egg, once again!

I haven't spotted any visitor chickens in the coop since the real egg was laid.  I see them foraging around the yard sometimes, and scratching around in the dirt road behind out house.  But they have backed off since they learned that they can deface our nesting box, and eat our chickens' food, but they can never break our spirit.  

Just kidding, I love seeing the neighbor's chickens.  The more the merrier.  It's a chicken party up in here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Beauty Around Us

Fall is upon us. It's a bittersweet time for those who garden in regions where the winters are too cold to grow anything.  I look forward to Winter as a time of reflection of what I have learned from my gardening experiences this year, and planning for the growing season to come. 

 I took some photos to say goodbye to some of my plants.  I'm no photographer, but it doesn't take one to capture the natural beauty that comes out of a garden.

This little baby lettuce was confused by the warm fall we've been having up until recently, and took the opportunity to grow, since some of the space hogs were done for the season and cleared out.  It's a variety of Romaine called 'Crisp Mint,' and it's actually survived several frosts.  Sadly, it will never grow large enough for me to enjoy more than a single salad, but the chickens decided they like it! 
 I plan on planting it again next season- this year it was kind of an afterthought, planted too late with not enough space to grow.  But it's pretty!

I've been in love with my Swiss Chard all Summer and Fall...  It's such a hardy plant, and almost too lovely to eat.  Almost.

Just look at the beautiful texture and shine of those leaves... gorgeous!
And I know I already mentioned my appreciation for Nasturtiums, but how could I not include this  garden photo?
Beautiful and Purposeful, they are.

I attribute the success of my very first Red Cabbage to those Nasturtiums.  Remember my accidental companion planting that resulted in my cabbage no longer getting eaten by whatever was eating it?  This is the result!

Sure, it's not perfect.  There are plenty of holes in the outer leaves, but I think of them as battle scars.  This cabbage is a survivor!  Is there any vegetable more cool looking than the inside of a Red Cabbage?  This Cabbage represents a lesson for me, that I will always remember.  This Cabbage made me a better gardener.  Am I getting too sentimental over Cabbage?  Should I be capitalizing the word, "Cabbage?" It's pretty important to me, so I say YES!

Now HERE is something Beautiful.  Thank you feathered friends!

Don't mind the bacon grease- I know I don't!