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3/31/15 chickens by west garden

3/31/15 chickens by east garden

4/2/15 dust bath for all

4/2/15 dust bath for all

April, 3rd, Lil prepared 6 bowls of goodies for the chickens to celebrate their 3rd hatchday.IMG_1111For Easter Sunday dinner, I dug up some sun chokes. I’m not sure if this is the last harvest from last year or the first harvest from this year.

4/5/15 sun chokes

4/5/15 sun chokes

Lastly, pictures of the east and west gardens and the uncovered chicken run. Note the snow. Also note the destroyed fencing of the east garden, there were a group of deer that took it down trying to get out late last fall.

4/5/15 west garden

4/5/15 west garden

4/5/15 east garden

4/5/15 east garden

4/5/15 chicken run

4/5/15 chicken run

4/5/15 going in for the night.

4/5/15 going in for the night.

Personal note, I’m going back to the Appalachian Trail for a month or so, starting April 30th.  I’m now a section hiker.

My hiking blog is  https://myhike2014.wordpress.com/

Three thousand is a pretty large number, well depends on what the 3000 represents. Compared to the number of leaves I will have to rake this fall, it’s not very large at all. Compared to the balance in my checkbook, it’s rather sizable. But this is a blog about my garden and my chickens——-NO it isn’t the number of tomatoes I harvested this year  (actually I didn’t plant any) and I’m not expanding my coop and run to accommodate 3,000 new chicks.  I’m writing about eggs.

the ladies give me small and extra large eggs

the ladies give me small and extra large eggs

On April 4th 2012, I brought home 6, one-day-old chicks.  5 hens and one surprise rooster, Jack. On August 4th 2012, I got my first egg, 220 days later on March 12th 2013, the count reached 1,000 eggs, 223 days after that on October 21st  2013, 2,000 eggs and 310 days later, on August 27th  2014, 3,000 eggs.  They are slowing down with the egg production.  When they first started the ladies would average better than 4 eggs per day, for the last 3 months they are averaging less than 3 eggs per day.  Some of the reasons they are slowing with their egg production are, they are getting past their prime laying age,  some of the time they are molting and Miny has been sick.

While I was off on my hike, Miny stopped acting like a chicken.  She wasn’t interested in food, she wasn’t scratching about and she would spend most of the day sitting in a corner of the run.  She was very lethargic.  My wife, Lil, who I affectionately call the “chicken whisperer”  hand fed Miny, yogurt and treats, massaged her crop because it wasn’t emptying and was very squishy.  She gave her olive oil to help move things along by eye-dropper daily.  Some days Miny seemed better and some not so.  Lil took her to our vet twice.  On the second visit the vet operated on her crop and cleaned it out.  No perceivable blockage was found.  Miny then spent some time in the crate in the kitchen recuperating.  Wrigley (the cutest puppy on the planet) did not make this a relaxed stay for Miny.

Miny in her cottage

Miny in her cottage

Wrigley on leash, with chickens in the yard

Wrigley on leash, with chickens in the yard

When I got back home later into May, Miny still wasn’t acting well, actually getting worse.  We took her to another vet that specializes in birds of all kinds. The vet didn’t think Miny’s insides felt right so she did an ultra-sound and took x-rays.  Miny has a tumor, a mass in her that is crowding her organs.  We brought her home with very heavy hearts.  Glad to have an answer, just not happy with it.  We decided to make her as comfortable as possible,  Both of us thought we would be burying her over the July 4th weekend.  Lil had read someplace about high doses of vitamin-C shrinking tumors——-so—-she started giving Miny daily eye-droppers of high dose vitamin-C.  Miny started getting better. There were days when she acted like a chicken, out in the yard scratching away with the flock. We were both very hopeful.  BUT, in September she started being lethargic again and I watched one day as Mo and Jasmine rather viciously attacked her.  I separated them and put Miny in the old run by herself.  NOW WHAT???  I fenced off a section of the new run and set up a little “cottage” for Miny.  Again she would have some good days and some not.  Lil was still hand feeding her everyday, I made her a separate corn-cob feeder for her cottage.

Miny in her cottage

Miny in her cottage

Miny, Lil and Wrigley

Miny, Lil and Wrigley

Miny with feeder. The chickens love corn on the cob, I don't like just throwing them into the run and the dirt. So I drill a hole in them and stand them on dowels.

Miny with feeder. The chickens love corn on the cob, I don’t like just throwing them into the run and the dirt.  I drill a hole in them and stand them on dowels.

Miny went to that farm in the sky September 20th 2014.  We buried her at the base of a large rock in the back yard.  Not quite 2 1/2 years and we have lost our first chicken.  We have always tried to be good custodians of our flock, Lil, maybe more than I. Lil would have them live in the cellar under the stairs when it gets cold out side, me, not so much. We hope our chickens know this, that they are spoiled BUT who knows what goes on in the mind of a chicken.

Jasmine on the garden fence ready for her escape, Jack still in the garden

Jasmine on the garden fence ready for her escape, Jack still in the garden

Cute puppy picture

Cute puppy picture

In the fall in New England, I rake up the leaves that have fallen in my gardens and yard and move them out to the compost pile. Then I turn the pile, add horse manure, turn the pile, add kitchen scraps (no animal products except egg shells), turn the pile, turn the pile and turn the pile.  So that in a years time I can spread this compost over my gardens and lawn.  Maybe I should just leave them where they fall.

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My chickens enjoy the raking.  They don’t get out as much as they use to, so this weekend was a treat for them.  If I was out raking, they were out helping.  They slow it down some because you have to be careful not to hit them with the rake.  Maybe helping isn’t quite right.  But they are good company and talking to the chickens looks better than talking to yourself.  I love watching them scramble for the creepy-crawlies that  I uncover.

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Once the leaves are in piles they need to be moved to the compost area.  This has never been fun.  The wheelbarrow doesn’t hold enough leaves and raking them onto a tarp and then dragging this to the compost is way harder than you would think.  So some years back I made a cardboard tube that fits over my wheelbarrow giving it much taller sides.  I am amazed at how many leaves can be stuffed into this and easily wheeled away.

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wood strips to support the cardboard sides

wood strips to support the cardboard sides

Ed

I’ve put the gardens (my 2 vegetable gardens) to bed for the year.  Since I won’t be planting a vegetable garden next year,( myhike2014.wordpress.com) I did things a little differently.  After pulling the last leeks and carrots from the old garden and pulling the last kale from the newer garden I added all of my remaining compost, some lime and then seeded them both with clover.  I have never planted a cover-crop before.  My Dad always planted winter wheat in the fall and tilled it in, in the spring as a green manure.  I’m hoping letting the gardens rest for a year will discourage the cabbage worms and a blight that my beets and Swiss chard get.  I’ve also dug up a couple of parsley plants, potted them and have them in the south facing living-room window for fresh parley all winter long.

last of the leeks and carrots from 2013

last of the leeks and carrots from 2013

 

pulled kale plants hung in the run for the chickens

pulled kale plants hung in the run for the chickens

 

old garden

old garden

 

newer garden

newer garden there is 1 turnip plant left

Ed

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