Days of Labor Weekend

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This past Labor Day weekend proved to be a weekend of labor. We cleaned the house, patio and yards, including the back corner of the back yard that has long been over due for a thorough cleaning. We did some more upgrading in the chicken run and worked on the garden. We didn’t move very fast as the high temps combined with the high humidity made it impossible to move fast. Despite the oppressive heat and being 1 man (young lady) down The Hubs and I managed to get quite a lot accomplished.

The Kiddo was out of the game for most of her 4 day weekend due to the pile of homework she has. Apparently we missed the memo about a couple of, rather detailed, summer assignments from her AP Human Geography class. she has to create a very detailed map of the world with particular points of interest on it. This requires her to scour the internet for maps to help her pinpoint the location of these specific points. Thank goodness for http://www.worldatlas.com such a great resource for that project. She also has to find 10 news articles, print, summarize and give her opinion on each. These, thankfully aren’t due for a couple of weeks so she has some time to pluck away at those. She also came home with Honors Biology, Honors English and Geometry homework. Poor thing spent most of her extended weekend in front of the computer or hunched over text books. Such is the life of our over achiever! she did come up for air occasionally to help out in some of the chores. Such a hard working girl. Such a happy momma.

One of our biggest tasks this weekend was clearing out the back corner of the yard. We moved in last fall and had created a rather extensive pile of cardboard. We figured we would recycle it after getting all the boxes unpacked. Well, we haven’t gotten 100% of the boxes emptied thus far but really only have a few remaining. The pile had grown to be so unsightly. That corner really had just become a dumping ground of sorts and it was time to get it under control. In a matter of a couple of hours of team work on one of the mornings we were able to load 300 pounds of cardboard into the truck. While The Hubs ran off to the recycling yard I swept and organized the concrete area that sits behind the sheds and had been the storage ground for the drift of cardboard. The Kiddo worked to clean up the dogs corner and in no time we had a beautiful corner to better suit the rest of our space. so worth the buckets of sweat lost that morning.

After a respite from the heat the Hubby and I turned our attention to edging and mowing the yards. This is a team effort as just the backyard alone is no small task. The Hubs edges and I mow. As I mow, I save a particular patch of sweet grass to mow separately. This section I take care to chop down into small pieces as it becomes a tasty and entertaining treat for the Flock. I like to take the catch bag and empty it into the Chicken Yard for the Girls to scratch and dig in. A little enrichment activity for them. As they scratch around looking for tasty bugs and bits, they spread the pile out around their yard creating a nice mulch layer that will encourage more bugs to move in for the girls.

Always looking to improve things for the Girls and learning as we go, we turned our attentions to a couple of projects in the coop and run. Our lovely Silver Laced Wyandotte, Isabelle started limping a couple weeks ago and progressively worsened. As none of our other chickens are not showing any signs of illness and Isi only seems to have trouble with her left leg we have decided she must have injured herself. Looking to the coop, run and chicken yard for clues as to where she may have injured herself, the only thing we came up with was the ramp that leads into the coop. Back when we put the coop together we had been in a rush to get it secure and open by night fall that first night. The last detail had been the ramp and we slapped some 2″x2″ scrap pieces to a scrap of the chipboard. We didn’t measure spacing of the rungs and simply forgot to revisit it as we had planned to. Watching the Girls navigate the existing ramp showed them sliding between 2″x 2″ rungs or just jumping down from the top which is 2 feet up. We speculate that Isabelle may have easily been shoved off the edge or jumped and landed wrong. Now the poor girl is in a separate pen hopefully working on mending her injured hip, removed from her flock and the fun of scratching, dust bathing and doing all things chicken.
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Poor Isabelle.

The Ramp has now been revamped. The Hubby selected a 2″x 12″ board as the new base for the ramp, much sturdier than the scrap piece of chip board. This ramp doesn’t bounce and flex under the weight of the chickens. He also streamlined the rungs, opting to use 1″x 2″ pieces that we attached every 3 1/2″. This ramp is longer, creating a softer slope. Once in, The Girls easily walked up and down it. No more slipping and sliding. They also tend to walk from top to bottom as opposed to jumping off at a height that at their size can cause injury. Just sorry we didn’t get to it sooner. Sorry Isi.
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Another upgrade was for their oyster shell dish. I just use a flower pot saucer as a side dish for the oyster shell. Setting anything on the ground is pretty much a guarantee that it will be stepped in, pooped in and spilled out. Not a very cost effective way to do things. With just a little bit of the scrap pieces of wood we created a nice little stand to hold the saucer up and out of the way. 2013-09-02_18-03-15_474
I am well aware it we did not use a level when installing and though it is bugging my Type A personality, the chickens could care less.

As the days, if not the weather, approach fall I am beginning to feel the gardening itch. I have already planted potatoes, the red ones are going well, the gold are slow starters but should make a showing soon. I found a great wooden box while out for a walk which I have lined with plastic and straw and then filled it with organic garden soil and compost, planted a rainbow of carrot and a few cauliflower seeds. I set a wooden pallet into place, filled it with more of the garden soil, covered it up in a nice thick layer of straw and fenced it off with chicken wire to keep the Flock out. I have not planted it as I plan to put in chard and mesclun and it is just too dang hot right now. I love using straw in the garden, not only is it inexpensive, it is also a great mulch, it suppresses weeds, slowly decomposes to create rich soil and doesn’t pack down tight so air can still circulate. I cover planters in it as I get them prepared for planting, this helps keep the soil rich and ready for planting. All I have to do is rake it off and plant.
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I have been harvesting seeds from my basil plants and have 4 pots of basil started. The sunflowers are now awkwardly slumped over in the garden as they have become laden with sizeable seeds ready to be collected and dried.2013-09-02_17-59-21_740
Just another promise that fall is around the corner.

Last week we moved the chicks out of their little pen in the interest of giving the Nuggets some more room to grow. They had quickly outgrown the small space. Knowing that they weren’t going to be in the new pen for too long I had no intention of buying any materials to create it. Luckily we have a few wood pallets around for some planned projects, I’ll share our favorite one shortly. I took 3 pallets, some of the scrap lumber and some chicken wire and created this lovely grow out pen.2013-09-02_18-03-00_33
the first day after rehoming the chicks into this pen I came home to Chiquita enjoying the Chicken Yard all to herself, YIKES, she’s still hawk food sized! Seems she located the one hole that I had overlooked. I found that and made a quick repair.
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As I suspected, we only had them in there for a week. With the long weekend looming and me being home 5 days I felt it was a great time to offer the Nuggets the opportunity to move into with the Big Girls. All we did was wait awhile after the Girls went in to roost before going out to close up the run. The Nuggets chose to roost on the highest roost in the run. The Kiddo just scooped them up and tucked them up on the roost in the coop next to the hens. The next morning I sent the Hubby out early to let everyone out into the chicken yard as I feared being locked in all together too long might end in feathers flying. He found no drama in the hen house that first morning. 3 nights in a row The Kiddo had to place the Nuggets into the coop. Each morning we left them all in a bit longer. The Nuggets are still quick to squawk and run from the Big Girls but the Hens seem to be instigating less and less. On the 4th night The Kiddo went out to put the babies in only to find they had gone in on their own and were up on the roost. YAY!! Last night was the roughest, the Girls went in to roost first, as is the way, then the chicks went in. The Barred Rock roosting nearest them must have had a peck at one and as a result the Nuggets came scrambling out of the coop. At a loss for what to do the babies eventually settled back on the high roost in the run. Once they settled down The Kiddo attempted to place them back in the coop. She was greeted by a sharp peck from that same Barred Rock. There was a lot of hollering and flapping going on in there. I suggested she go from the larger back door as she was having the same thought. I joined her to see if I could help. This kid cracks me up, she simply slid (ok, more of a “get out of my way” shove) the pecking hen over on the roost to make room for the Nuggets. After she and I both issued a warning to the Girls we closed up the coop and headed out of the Chicken Yard. I did hear some squawking coming from the babies, but things settled down quickly. The big choice was to leave them shut in the run all day with the Flock or take a step backwards and put them back in their grow out pen, that they haven’t been in for nearly a week now. I went with leaving them with the flock and no I sit at my part time job, anxious as a mom on the first day of kindergarten. Wondering how my babies are doing. Are the big kids being mean? Are they making any friends? Were they able to eat or are there feathers flying? Oh come on, why is this day dragging on so slow? 2013-09-02_18-07-24_270

Ok, that project I eluded to earlier. We have taken a wood pallet and turned a portion of it into a very fun, rustic wine and stemware rack. We hung it about the armoire that once resided in our daughters room but had no place in the new house. It is now our bar in one corner of our large covered patio. this weekend we put the finishing touches on that corner. Hanging up the wine rack and all the fun signs we have collect or been gifted over the years.2013-09-01_15-07-06_616
It has added such a lively flair to our outdoor living area.

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