Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nest Box Bedding

Down with wood shavings!

Kristine says our chickens hate wood shavings as bedding in their nest boxes.

She went out to collect eggs today and didn't find any eggs in the nest boxes, but she found 11 eggs on the floor under the roosts. Ick!

So, ok, I need to get rid of the wood shavings. Sigh...
And the boxes looked so nice. 

I read up on lots of different kinds of bedding that people use in nest boxes.

Straw! Our hens like straw! It is easy to handle. I like it too because it looks good and the hens like to snuggle down in it and make a nice warm nest.

Hay: I wouldn't want to use hay because it is supposed to spread chicken lice and not last very long?

Newspaper: People shred up newspaper and use that for nest box material. I bet the ink could make your light chickens spotty. LOL

Plastic Mats: I've read about people using plastic mats in nest boxes. Sounds neat because you can just shake them and hose them off and dry them and they are ready to use again.  But my hens are too picky.

Wood Shavings: I like the shavings. They smell good. But the chickens don't like them and Kristine said the fumes from the shavings can be bad for livestock to breathe. Now she tells me! Oh, well, I can use it out in the pen.

Leaves: I have used leaves in the chicken pen, but not in the nest boxes. The chickens are out in the leaves all day, so I suppose I could try putting dry leaves in the nest boxes  especially if I cleaned out the boxes and put in new leaves every day or so.

I read that some people use different shredded mixtures of straw, hay, shavings, newspaper or leaves. Interesting. I suppose people use what they can. 

Since we have so many leaves around here, this year when the leaves are well dried I'm going to bag some to use in the winter. At least I can use them as cover in the chicken pen. I'll see how that works.

Peek at the Past
The door is staying put!

[0 eggs]
All the eggs were poo eggs. Ick!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chicken Guardian Dog

Morgan is just the best ever little caretaker of our chickens. She is part Border Collie and part Australian Shepherd. I think she shows more of the Australian Shepherd part of her heritage.

Kristine bought Morgan when she was a puppy and Morgan was introduced to the chickens when she was very young. In fact I think the chickens scared her because the hens would cluck at her and try and peck her.

We always kept Morgan on a leash when she was around the chickens and never let her chase the hens, try to play with them, bark, or show any aggression.

Morgan learned from the beginning that the chickens were to be watched, but not messed with. In fact, I used the word "watch" as my command word when I would take Morgan out to see the chickens and I would have Morgan sit or down and we would watch the chickens together.

Morgan does run around the chickens or through them at times, but I have noticed that she only seems to do that when I'm out feeding treats and the chickens are excited. Then Morgan gets excited too.

I think there are some breeds of dogs that would be very difficult or impossible to train to guard chickens or even to just leave them alone. But, there are many dogs who just need proper training to become good farm dogs.

I have read about dog breeds that have been bred especially as guardian dogs for hundreds of year. The predator instinct has been bred very low and they have been used to guard livestock and poultry.

And I have read that herding dogs like Morgan are not suitable as poultry guardians. I have even read that some herding dogs are not left alone with livestock because they can not be trusted. I'm very glad that we have Morgan!

I finally found the photo of the mossy rocks I was going to post with the mossy trees yesterday.

It is supposed to be sunny tomorrow so I hope to get outside and rake up the area around these rocks. The water feature on the rocks has still not happened. I made a little dry stream bed by the rocks.

(February 27, 2009)

[6 eggs today]


Friday, February 26, 2010

Raining Buckets!

The chickens are locked up for the day. There is way too much rain for Morgan and the hens to go out and about. I took a bag of lettuce out to the chicken pen this morning. The lettuce cheered them up for a little while.

The trees are starting to turn green from the bottom up!
This is one of the oaks with multiple trunks.
I have a feeling the tree started out as many little trees that grew together.

The multiple trunk oaks have a tendency to fall over
because the wood rots where the trunks join.

This tree has lost a trunk on the left side.

The moss does brighten up the forest.

I was playing around on the computer looking for chicken and rain related articles and found a pdf that was written for village based poultry production systems in "foreign countries." (I was looking originally for information about chickens and moss. Do chickens eat moss? I didn't find anything.)

There were 6 chapters and I didn't read them all, but I enjoyed looking at the illustrations in Chapter 2 - Housing(if you want to get to the other chapters change the number after "chapter" in the URL.)

I thought the way they made nest boxes by stacking bricks and laying boards across was pretty neat. And the basket nest in a branch stuck in the ground was inventive. I like the whole idea of taking what is available and making it work.

And adding sand to a basket to keep it from tipping over was another good idea. Much better than my idea of nailing the basket to the wall. Cute drawings.

Kristine left for work early today so she would have time to stop and buy Morgan a new bed. Poor Morgan has been unhappy with her old bed and has abandoned it for the rug or floor. Hope she like the new bed.

(February 26, 2009)
Wow! 9 eggs!
I'm not washing the eggs now until I use them.

[3 eggs today]
I guess the girls are getting old.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chicken Vocalization

I woke up to the sound of chickens outside my bedroom window making loud chicken noises. It was as if the hens knew I was behind that window and they wanted me to come out and give them some treats. Now!

When I went out, these are the first of the hens that came running.

It would be nice to think the chickens like me, but I know better.

I am the bringer and giver of good things to eat.

Do the chicken calls have different meanings?

I wish I did understand what the chickens were saying. The hens were telling me something in chicken. I find myself repeating back the same sounds as best I can. Something like, tuhuck, tuhuck, tuhuck.

I would also like to find a site with the other 20+ calls and videos of the behaviors. I sent an email to the research group and asked for more information about the additional 20+ calls. I wonder if I will get a return email?

(February 25, 2009)

[5 eggs today]
The wood ash foot cleaner is working!
I use hot water to wash the eggs now.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eggs For Breakfast On A Foggy Rainy Morning

I eat a lot of eggs! Two, three or even four a day. I do skip a day once in a while, don't eat all the yolks sometimes or only have one egg once in a while, but I feel much better when I have my eggs for breakfast.

I got to wondering if it was ok to eat that many eggs, did a search, and came up with way too many and confusing web pages to post links. The articles seem to agree that people should use their common sense and eat the number of eggs appropriate to their level of health and other foods they are eating. So no links, except, this is a fun page. I had a lot of fun moving the little blue box and dragging the pages around to see different articles. This is a little blast from the past... 1978. I love the prices and I even found Ann Landers. LOL

I took this photo on the way to the gate this morning. I love these foggy rainy mornings. The woods are so silent and there is something ethereal about them. It's as if I could expect to see a band of elves moving among the misty trees. After Kristine drove out, I locked the gate, and walked back to the house. Time for breakfast! Two eggs, cooked in my little iron skillet with olive oil. Toast. Decafe. OJ.

The photos of these egg recipes look so good that I thought I'd post the link here. I don't think I will actually make any of these egg dishes anytime soon, but I sure like to look at the photos, read the recipes and think about making them and eating them. Yum!

One of my nieces has to eat gluten free and I know I tested allergic to wheat. Not so much now that I'm older, but I have thought about going gluten free for a trial, but I haven't done it yet. I have all these bags of flour to use up!

I think the problem with IPhoto is that the library has suffered some kind of glitch. I created a new library which has made IPhoto very happy and it is now working again. For some unknown reason IPhoto has placed the old library in another folder on my desktop. Well, at least I know where the rest of my photos are. I think the problem started when I created a folder named Pictures in Safari and IPhoto got confused and put the library in that Picture folder instead of the IPhoto Picture folder. Safari and IPhoto are not supposed to mix up their folders. Good grief!

(February 24, 2009)
We feed organic feed pellets now.

[5 eggs today]
Chickens were locked up all day.
Sorry girls.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Morgan Thinks She Is A Chicken

Thank you very much for the Birthday Wishes!

Chick, chick, chick!!! And all the hens come running, flapping and clucking! Lettuce!
Then Morgan shows up. Treats?

Oh yeah!
Ok, neat, green stuff.
Morgan is one of the girls. Sometimes I think she thinks she is a chicken. Sometimes I think the chickens think she is a big chicken. Sometimes I think they think I am a bigger chicken. Sometimes I know I'm chicken!
This is interesting. I didn't realize that a chicken will stop eating once a certain quantity of energy has been consumed in a day. This will happen even if the chicken has not consumed enough vitamins or protein. I thought they just ate all day. Why don't they tell you these things instead of just saying not to feed your chickens too many treats. OK! This makes sense. 

These photos are from yesterday and are a reminder that the sun will shine again and we will be able to go out and play next week. Yep! We are going to have rainy bad weather until at least Saturday. My fault! I'm the one who kept asking for rain, rain, more rain.

The chickens are going to be very unhappy having to stay in their pen. Unless I can talk Kristine into letting me dress Morgan up in the raincoat again so I can let Morgan and the chickens out. Maybe, if we have some calm spots in the storms late in the day? I would be very happy if it snowed, but this weather is coming in from the Pacific so it probably won't get cold enough. Phooey!

(February 23, 2009)
Look at that nice clean garage roof!
I need to get out there and rake if off again this year.

[4 eggs today]

I ate all the cake!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Wacky cake is the first cake I made all by myself and I remember I was really put out when after receiving a complement on the cake I was told that, no, you didn't make it because it was too good. Sheesh! I'm getting better at this baking in the iron pan, but I find I need to cook at a slower and lower temp to keep the sides and bottom from getting too crispy.
Still, the cake tasted pretty good. Kristine said she noticed the oil (I didn't.) I noticed the lack of a real strong chocolate flavor because I used hot chocolate mix since I was out of baking chocolate. Since there are no milk or eggs in the cake the texture is more like a sponge cake.
If I had used good baking chocolate, I know the cake would have been even better. The more I eat of this cake the more I want. It is addicting. It is a fun cake to make, and with the simple ingredients it isn't going to give me migraines. I sprinkled powdered sugar on top.

Wacky Cake

Sift together into an un-greased square 8 by 8 by 2 inch pan:
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa or carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar

Make 3 holes in the flour mixture.

Put in first hole: 1 teaspoon of vinegar.
Put in second hole: 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Put in third hole: 5 tablespoons of salad oil.

Over all the holes pour 1 cup water.
Mix well; bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sprinkle sugar on top or frost. 

The Food Timeline

I went searching online for some history about this recipe and found Wacky Cake listed (1949 - Wacky Cake) on the Food Timeline page. This Food Timeline site is way too much fun. I could spend days upon days here reading old recipe books. I love looking back through history by reading recipes and reading about how people lived, ate and the origin of different recipes.

February 22, 2009
Dolores and Jean called me again this year.
Happy 69th Birthday!
They are so sweet!
Kristine got me books, really neat red pot holders and a super duper bread knife from Japan!
I'm going to go read now!

[4 eggs today]
Morgan and the hens were outside in the sun.

I had more photos, but IPhoto developed a problem with it's delete photo function and started freezing up, so I'm letting it rest in hopes it will recover.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Biscuits On The Wood Stove

Take my picture! Hen Roo posed for a photo and now this Buff Brahma is posing for a picture too. In the rain. I didn't let the hens out today but they went outside anyway and stood in the rain in their pen and yelled at me!

I know it must have been something very unpleasant in chicken, so I'm very glad I don't understand their language. Body language is something else. Their body language said loud and clear that they were upset and wanted out of the pen right now or they were going to hide their eggs or ?
The raincoat has been retired. Morgan spent part of the day outside playing when the rain was fairly light. She wouldn't come back! I tricked her with the slider. She heard it open and came because she thought I was going to give the chickens treats. She always comes for that.

I made homemade drop biscuits on the wood stove last night and tonight. My method was first to pre-heat the iron pan and the lid on the wood stove on a trivit. While the pan and lid were heating I mixed up the drop biscuits. I ran out of butter tonight so I substituted partially with bacon grease. I think bacon grease is the secret ingredient in a lot of recipes.

Then, quick, I got the pan off the wood stove (I left the lid heating on the trivit on the stove) I oiled the pan generously, dropped the biscuits in, popped on the lid and put the pan on the trivit for 10 minutes. Then I checked to see how the biscuits were cooking. I decided it was time to turn them.
I brought the pan over to the cook top. Then I took the lid off and oiled it. Then I put the lid back on the pot and turned the whole thing up side down lid and all. Then I lifted off the pan. The biscuits were in the lid with the cooked side up!
Then I oiled the pan again and slipped the biscuits off the lid back into the pan. This time the uncooked side is against the bottom all set to brown. I love it when a plan comes together! They tasted so good! I really like knowing that I can cook on the wood stove if there is need. For now it is just a lot of fun!

[5 eggs today]
Clean eggs!
The wood ash stepping place is working!

(February 21, 2009)
Neat replica hoosier!
I want these!
Well, maybe not. The food bins are not safe for food storage. But the containers are neat. And the spice rack, and...


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Morgan Doing Guard Duty In Her Raincoat

    Rain! We were only supposed to have a 30% chance of rain, but it has rained pretty much night and day with a few breaks. This morning it looked like it was clearing up so I let Morgan and the chickens out for the day. Oops! The rain started up again and the chickens all went under the house. Morgan was getting soaked, but I couldn't bring her inside. She has to stay on the job and keep the chickens safe.
   I remembered I had a raincoat stored away that would fit Morgan. I have wanted to let her wear the raincoat before, but Kristine always said no... ah... but Kristine is at class. So, I dressed Morgan up in the raincoat and she is still out in the rain watching the dumb chickens.

   Why! Why won't they go back in the coop instead of under the house. Sigh! I took treats out to the coop and called them, but only half of them showed up. Stupid chickens! Oh, dear... I know they aren't stupid. It was my fault. I shouldn't have let them out. Edit: Morgan later dried out in front of the wood stove and is dry and toasty warm. The chickens are in their coop.

   I went searching around for information about chicken and rain. I sure didn't find much. I wanted to find out if chickens have some kind of water repellent oil on their feathers like duck feathers that would enable the chickens to tolerate spending time out in the rain. All I came up with were opinions. I was looking for some factual information, but had to settle for this page as the best of the lot. 

   The neat police (Diane) are going to be checking today to make sure I cleared all the mess off my sewing table. I did neaten up the mess and sorted the stuff into groups that needed to live together. Now some of the mess is messing up the dining room.

   Most of it was painting supplies or cookbooks. The cookbooks are now on shelves and the painting stuff is back out on the window seat with the rest of the building stuff. I can't finish painting until I can leave the windows open, because of Kristine's asthma. We have started tree asthma season, so she is dealing with that now.

   I made chickens soup and biscuits on the wood stove in case the power goes out. Photo of the biscuits tomorrow. 

(February 20, 2009)
"Red Tag" means the house is unlivable.
We lived on the next mountain side over from the earthquake
epicenter at Loma Prieta mountain.
Our house flew up in the air and split the foundation.
I remember feeling at the time that San Francisco was
stealing our earthquake.

[2 eggs today]
I wonder if the chickens are going to lay their eggs under the house?
There were two in the coop before I let them out.
Kristine, I promise, if it looks at all possible it might rain
I won't let Morgan and the chickens out.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Hen Roo Front And Center

Over time comments have been made about the size of the text in the blog being small and hard to read and comments questioning how to use some of the blog edit tools. Instead of me making the size of my blog larger I think it would be neat for people to learn how easy it is for them to enlarge any web page or word processor text. Take a look at this video, here. Personally I have the zoom out and zoom in tool on my tool bar, but the way I usually enlarge a page is by using the keystrokes at the end of the video.

If you would like to learn how to make a link to a URL like I just did with the "here" in paragraph above then take a look at this video, here. If you are using blogger in draft the edit tool bar will look a little different, but the link tool will say "Link" which makes it easy to find. If you are interested in learning lots more about blogger, you could try out these videos starting, here, or others on YouTube. Or click on Help up at the top of the page next to Sign out. Have fun!

I have been playing around with the edit pages and adding some pages under my header photo. This is kinda fun. I'll have to wait and see how it turns out. I wish I could change the white text to dark green. I'm trying out some of the color changes available, but I haven't found the right one yet. Edit: I just noticed! The titles of the pages turned from white to green! Yay!
Hen Roo has grown a beautiful comb and wattle and wants to be in pictures. She stepped right up and stuck her head in front of the camera. I thought she was going to peck at the camera lens but she just stared and then clucked at me and walked away. I doubt that she lays eggs but she is cute.
Kristine took this photo of Morgan last night. When I saw it I thought the slider was open and she had laid down in the doorway, but Kristine says the slider is closed. Morgan has scooted herself up against the window with her feet in the air. The wheelbarrow is full of wood for the stove. And yes, our Christmas tree is still up because we were going to keep all the Christmas decoration up until Kathleen and family came for a visit. The visit has been postponed, so we will have to pack the decorations away.
A messy table? This photo is here as an incentive for me to get the table cleared off. The plan is for me to be able to post a photo tomorrow of the table all cleared off with my sewing things nicely arranged. So I can sew on the quilt! No wonder I don't sew... I can't even see the sewing machine!

(February 19, 2009)
We have weather coming from the North
but I don't think it will be cold enough for snow.

[5 nice clean eggs today]
Rain... everything tucked away dry.

This is a gardening link about Hugelkultur. It is a neat way to make raised beds using wood, compost, paper, etc. Everybody probably knows about this but me. I just thought it was such a neat idea. I'm going to make some of these beds. I will post about this when I get some of my own photos.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chickens In The Pen

   The photos in this post will not enlarge because I am trying out using the Thumbs in IPhoto. The Thumbs will take up much less space in Blogspot and will hopefully allow me to post longer without running out of space. For example 40 KB vs 2.1 MB and they upload much faster.
   I have this stupid ear ache that kept me in the house and away from working on the nest boxes. In the first photo the chickens are busily searching around for the pieces of apple, broccoli and lettuce I tossed around in the pen. It was late today when I went out to the coop and added more bedding to the nest boxes and put out treats. The chickens were very noisy today and kept up a constant chatter.

   Then I finished clearing the leaves and debris off the pen roof so the sun can shine in the coop freely and also shine in the pen and dry it out. I shook the plastic bag and called the hens and they all came except for two. The ditzy Dark Brahma and the skittish Wyandotte both didn't have a clue as to where they had left the entrance to the coop. I guess the only way they get home at night is to follow the other chickens. Morgan and I herded the two hens toward the door where I picked them up and put them in the pen. Then I counted up the chickens and kept coming up one short. Sixteen! I finally thought to look in the nest boxes and found this white brahma. Ok! Seventeen!
   All is well. I knew there weren't any eggs in there earlier because I had just put in more shavings. I wondered if she was getting ready for bed or laying an egg? Morgan and I went back to the house for about a half hour.    Surprise! The Light Brahma really did lay an egg. It was almost 5 pm. I knew some of the hens laid in the afternoon, but I didn't realize they laid them so late.

   Success! I found chicken tracks in the wood ash in the tub. I haven't seen them dusting, so I don't know if they just walked around in it or actually had a bath?

(February 18, 2009)

[4 eggs today]


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ladder Roost

Ladder roosts for the hens. One project finished today and the start of another accomplished. I do so love it when I actually get something to turn out pretty much the way I imagined it would. The chubby Light Brahma came back in the pen to check and see if I was putting treats down and stuck around for a snack.

   Unfortunately, for the photo she didn't hop up on one of the ladder roosts so I could take a picture. I looked in the tub and checked the wood ash and alas it was still smooth. Phooey! I was hoping to see a bunch of chicken footprints. There were a lot of chicken footprints in the ashes just inside the glass door. So, at least some of the hens are walking on the ash. The eggs were all lovely and clean today. So nice!

   As far as the partitions for the nest boxes go, I managed to crawl around and measure and write down the sizes I need to cut out of the scrap plywood. Tomorrow, I can start by marking up the wood and cutting out the pieces. I found some wooden stakes that I'm going to use to support the partitions. Using the ten+ year old stakes up will save me having to find and cut more wood.

   Since it would be very, very difficult to attach partitions in the middle nest box, I am going to let it remain a communal nest box. Six small nest boxes along with the big one should be more than enough boxes for seventeen hens.

   While I was working out by the coop, I heard what sounded at first like some chickens having a squable up in the trees. But, then I realized that it was the geese on their migration overhead. I got my camera out and tried to get a photo, but they fly at about the same altitude as the airplanes, and I couldn't see them. I tried to upload the video for the sound, but it failed. Whatever that means?

   I saw them here one year. That year it was hot and I was watering, when I heard the geese. I started calling to them and they actually started circling for a short time before they continued on their way. I don't know if they were checking out the water or me making honking noises. I'm pretty sure those are geese up there, but I'm open to other ideas. I searched for a California goose migration map but the closest information I could find for California and geese is this. I did find some hunting sites, but I didn't like all the dead bird photos. And I did find mention of people hunting geese in the San Joaquin Valley, but no mention of geese in February. Maybe these guys are late bloomers.

(February 17, 2009)

[8 eggs today!]
One egg was broken.
Clumsy chicken or snack?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wood Ash In The Chicken Pen

   There are two old screen doors that are kept around the place in case I need to cannibalize a piece of screening or for use as covers for small enclosures I make for chicks or to isolate chickens.

   Instead of building a frame and attaching screening I thought why not just plunk the screen down on top of the container. It all worked out great... the ash went through the screen with a bit of smooshing around and I put all the wood coals, nails and debris in the blue bucket and dumped them nails and all in my little green garden.

   I thought this would be a rather boring photo so I sprinkled some corn on the leaves and called the chickens and Morgan to come decorate the picture. Morgan wants to be up and moving instead of on a down stay.

   I'm not sure what the original use was that the container was made for... water trough? I dug a shallow hole for the tub so it fits snugly and won't tip over when the chickens roost on the edge. Kristine doesn't think the chickens will hop in there and dust bathe. Maybe, yes, no? 

   The wooden frame I nailed together to hold more wood ash is located so the chickens have to step in it on the way to the nest boxes and the roosts. Of course, they may just hop over the ashes. Or maybe use it for more dust bathing? Next time Tom empties the wood stove I will add more ashes.
   Everything takes more time than I think it will. I still have to cut the partitions for the nest boxes. I found some roosts that I had stored away and decided to attach them to an old wooden ladder. I got the idea from a photo at, Garden With Chickens, here. I'll cut them shorter to fit the ladder. It would be neat if I got the partitions and the ladder fixed up tomorrow. I hope I get at least one project finished.

(February 16, 2009)
The quilt is haunting me...

[5 eggs today]
Morgan ate chicken feed and got a tummy ache last night.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Sun Through The Trees

   Sunshine! The sun was very welcome around here today. I even got myself outside for a bit and worked in the coop cleaning out the nest boxes and making plans. I decided I'm going to close up the tall nest boxes after I divide up the communal boxes. That will give me nine nest boxes and allowing for two chickens per box that should be enough for the seventeen hens.

   I scrounged up scrap wood and nailed together the boards to hold some wood ashes in front of the nest boxes. The hens will have to walk through the ashes to go in and out of the coop. I was going to put ashes down, but Tom had added fresh ashes today and I didn't want to worry about any stray coals starting a fire in the straw.  I am also considering making a screen so I can sift the ashes. That would eliminate the stray hot coal problem.

   Knatolee, Knatolee's World, here and Missy, Little Messy Missy, here made great suggestions in the comments yesterday. Why build a dust box when I already have a large plastic container. We bought it originally to hold our first batch of chicks years ago and it has been sitting out in the shed gathering dust. I hauled the tub over to the coop so it would be at hand tomorrow.

   I did clean out the nest boxes and put in new straw. I put the old straw and wood chips out in the pen over the muddy pine. The pine branches worked as a covering until the chickens scratched the mud up on top of the pine and made a muddy piney mess. Photos tomorrow.

   The photo is of the driveway by the gate and I took the picture because a cloud moved away from the sun and everything lit up for awhile. The sun has been playing peek-a-boo.

   I find neat things when I'm searching around and this is an interesting way to make nest boxes. I wouldn't want to buy this set up, but if I had it around it would be neat to convert to a new use. Or if I found it at a garage sale? Nah, I already have my boxes, but for the future? I remember finding this site before once when I was looking at coop designs and someone had used Ikea stuff to make a coop.

(February 15, 2009)
Quilt? Snow?
I want snow!

[6 eggs today]
The chickens got strawberry tops for treats today.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spinach On The Porch

   Today the chickens enjoyed a bunch of spinach from the large bag of outdated greens that Tom picked up at the grocery store yesterday. By the time I got the camera ready for action the chickens had gobbled up most of the leaves. The brown plastic is covering wood for the wood stove.

   The hens and Morgan got to spend some time outside for half a day today. I spent my day thinking and planning what I'm going to change in the chicken coop when I finally get well enough to get out there and do something. At first I wanted to move the nest boxes around and put them against the wall and put up new roosts.

   Well, I finally decided I really didn't need to to all that. I was getting carried away. So, I calmed down and thought about how I could build partitions in the communal nest boxes and how I could build some frames to hold wood ashes, from the wood stove, inside the entrance to the nest area. I read about putting something for the hens to step in that would dry off their muddy feet as they are on the way to lay their eggs. Now I have some plans running around in my head. All subject to change.

   I did find a neat site here (A Dust Box For The Chicken House - w w w. The Modern Homestead . U S) with photos that show how to build a dust box for chickens. This is pretty fancy and may be beyond my capabilities, but I can make a good try and come up with something. I think the reason the dust boxes I made in the past didn't work was because I didn't make the sides high enough.

   So, here is a list of to-do's:
  1. Make partitions in the nest boxes.
  2. Make a dusting box.
  3. Make a frame by the entrance to hold wood ashes for the chickens to step in.
  4. Make the entrance smaller.

   Maybe I can at least get the tools and wood together tomorrow. Getting everything ready is half the battle. I've got the plans in my head, if I get the supplies and tools ready all I'll need is to get me out there on the ground.

  I did find this site here (http: //urban garden project .wordpress .com/ 2009/ 03/ 26/ 6 -uses-for -wood -ash/) that has lots of good ways to use wood ashes. We have just been dumping them out in the woods. I never knew there were so many uses.

   I have been searching around trying to find out if there are any negative side effect to letting the chickens dust with wood ashes and I haven't found any yet, but there may be some.  ??? 
(February 14, 2009)
Gee, I didn't even notice it was
Vatentine's Day last year what with all the snow.
I want more snow!

(5 eggs today)
One icky floor egg.