February 12, 2016

Friday Follow-Up



This week:


Has spring arrived already? It sure seems like winter is over. We hit 71° one day this week. It's been very windy and our fire danger is high. I scan the horizon several times a day for smoke. There is just one day of possible rain showers in the forecast, and our night-time temperatures are just above freezing. I've unplugged the tank heater and removed it from the water trough.

We usually have one winter week when the temperature dips near zero - usually the first week of February - but that week has come and gone. Even though it's still mid-February and it's still winter according to the calendar, folks are saying spring is here. I wonder what summer will be like?

This week's posts were:




and


Let's Learn to Do Stuff!
introducing
a series of upcoming tutorial posts
to help you learn basic skills!


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

February 10, 2016

Let's Learn to Do Stuff


Homesteading is all about learning basic skills and knowing how to "do stuff". Wanting to live simply, striving to eat a healthy diet, saving money... those goals probably mean you are growing your own food, cooking from scratch, and are juggling lots of do-it-yourself.


So let's learn how to do stuff!

Recently I asked you to help me by filling out a short survey, and your responses were great - thank you! A high percentage of you said you "want to learn to do ___". The specific skills varied although there were several that showed up quite often. Mostly you want to learn basic skills. Let's do that!

I'm producing a series of posts with tutorials on many subjects, skills used in the kitchen, the garden, the barn. Let's call it Skills 101. I'm looking forward to helping you add to your list of skills, to inspiring you to try new things, and to giving you confidence to face the future.


Right now I'm going through already-existing posts that fit into this series and adding them to an index page so they'll be easy for you to find. Just click here to see that page. I still have many posts to work through, so be sure to check back often as I add new and older posts.

Is there something in particular you'd like to know? I'm using your suggestions from the survey but if there's a particular skill you'd like to learn, please leave a comment below.




This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

February 9, 2016

A Slice of My Life




Happy Valentine's Day



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

February 8, 2016

Feather Pecking in the Chicken Coop

A few days ago I noticed that two of the hens have rough and broken feathers on their backs. Since I didn't have a rooster in the coop, it's not from mating behavior. Some of the other hens were pecking at them.


The next day I found one of the black hens pecking one of the Dominiques as she sat in the nest box. The Dom had her head in the corner and her tail facing out. The black hen pecked and pecked, and the Dom had a bloody hole on her back.

This hen was bloodied by the other hens pecking at her.

I held off the other hens until the egg was laid and they all went back to eating, drinking and scratching in the dirt. Then I went in the house to google "feather pecking". I decided:
  1. My hens are probably bored
  2. I might not have enough nest boxes
  3. The nest boxes aren't private enough
My shoelaces provided a bit of entertainment.

So I set out to fix all those problems.

First I tried to put plantain salve on the hen's back. I know that if the other hens see red, they will continue to peck at her relentlessly. The salve wouldn't "stick" to her feathers though and it didn't help. I sprayed iodine on the wound, hoping that it would turn it brown instead of red. Google had recommended Blu-Kote spray but I don't have any.

I did realize that the two affected hens have spots, one of the Dominiques and one of the specked Sussex. I think this might explain why they began pecking: a chicken will peck at a bug on another chicken, or at a speck of feed, a dot of light on a wall, and so on. They probably started by pecking at a spot. Unfortunately I can't fix that, other than giving them more stimulation or enrichment. So now I'm enriching my chickens' environment. Oh my.

A buff Orpington pullet.

Some of the information I'd read suggested that feather pecking (or feather picking) might be related to diet, so I gave them a bowl of spinach, leftover rice, a handful of dry cat food, a banana peel, and a couple spoonfuls of yogurt. I hadn't given them a lot of "snacks" before so they were interested but not eager. Still, it kept them busy for a bit.

I also gave them some suet "muffins". When I have a bit of leftover meat after a meal, I put it in a zip bag in the freezer. It doesn't matter what kind of meat it is because I'm making dog food, or in this case, chicken treats. When I have enough scraps saved up, I put the meat in muffin tins and add melted fat (left over from cooking hamburgers, bacon, etc.) to the tins. Once the fat hardens I put these muffins in the freezer. I give them to the outside dogs on cold, raw winter days, but I gave the last two to the chickens, wrapped in a chicken wire "cage" and nailed to the wall of the coop.

A small brown egg in a nestbox.

There are now three nest boxes. I use empty kitty litter buckets with the lid removed. I replenished the hay inside and leaned a piece of plywood against the tops of the buckets for more privacy. (Plywood not shown here.)

I use kitty litter buckets as nest boxes

Finally I brought in a fallen branch from an oak tree. The girls can look for bugs in the bark or just perch on top of it.

I'll tell you why my coop was pretty "plain Jane" before this: snakes. I dislike giving snakes a place to hide. I really dislike finding a snake behind a board or in a corner. Ick. I guess I'll have to remember to be cautious once the weather warms up.

How do you provide "enrichment" for your hens?


NOTE: Be sure to read the great suggestions in the comments section below!


You might also enjoy:

Chicken Coop - my Pinterest board
News From the Coop
We're So Egg-Cited



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

February 7, 2016

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- rounding the last bend in the road and seeing "home"
- signs of coming spring
- an answered prayer
- longer days
- gorgeous sunsets
Silver Sunday

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and 
pray to your Father, Who is unseen. Then your Father, 
Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 NIV


~~~~~
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...