Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Breakfast with Birds, Spring Chores, and Gifts From Friends

Do you know what's fun?  Meal time with forty birds!  Now that the baby chicks are used to their new coop, I've been opening the door and letting all the birds mingle.  I spread food on the ground and in the feeders and then stand back and enjoy the show.  There's a lot of excitement when the food first hits the ground as everyone finds their places.  The young chicks are glad to let Poncho and the white hens have front row seats at he meal, but the silly guineas are clueless to proper flock etiquette and make themselves at home where ever they want.  The guineas move like a school of fish, changing directions in unison and wending their way through the flock of chickens as a unified group.  They also add to the sound track of the meal, by keeping up a steady squeaky wheel beat.  My birds are going to get fat just because it's so much fun to feed them! 

The longer days and warm weather have inspired me to tackle some much needed spring time chores.  The mobile chicken coop got some attention recently as I took down the tarp and raked out all the straw that I added when it was cold and the coop seemed particularly drafty.  My spare rooster Lefty recently went to live with Joe's flock of thirty hens (lucky rooster!), but that meant that someone had to climb into the coop to get him.  Joe and I both looked at the rooster sleeping in the coop on a roost in the back, over a winters worth of dirty straw and chicken poo, and he was the first to call "not it".  Darn it!  The dirty bedding made for a soft place to walk, but after getting an up close look at the coop, I was anxious to do some clean up.  

Look at all that good stuff I get to spread on my garden patches!  

Since my garden beds still have grass growing in them, despite having a chicken coop parked over them for part of the year, I'm experimenting with the best way to transform these patches into raised beds.  For this one, I spread some of the coop bedding and then placed cardboard over the whole thing.  

The little pond that formed where we excavated the clay for the rocket mass heater is located where I want to put our swimming pool.  Since more dirt will have to be removed to get the pool level, I used a  shovel to dig up some top soil to add to my raised beds.  I still have a long way to go before it's level enough for pool!  

I was able to cover about half of the bed with a layer of dirt clumps before pretending I was wearing a fit-bit stopped being motivation to walk each shovel full of dirt to the garden.  I may need to get a cart in order to finish the job.  

The same friends that gave us the greenhouse and the guineas recently had us over for a delicious lamb stew and to load up our truck and trailer with goodies from around their farm.  They raised sheep and birds, but are relocating back to town and generously gave us a treasure trove of farm gear.  Even a roll of green house patching, something that looks like a hole punch for tagging sheep ears, some halters, medicines, food bins, scoops, buckets, feeders, and all kinds of goodies!  Yesterday was the first day I really spread it all out at looked at what they gave us.  

We have this, which I think is for feeding large mammals food.  I can do that now!   

And this thing, which I think is for mammals to drink from.  Also very important, right?  I really need a mammal so I can play with my new toys.  Maybe a donkey.  A baby miniature donkey.  Named Rufus!  

They also gave us this.  We used their tractor to load it onto our trailer, and then Brandon and I nearly gave ourselves hernia's trying to get it off the trailer when we got home.   It's a tractor attachment called a harrow.  It's not supposed to be in a giant tangle like this, but is meant to lay flat so you drag it over the ground to break up cow pies or dirt clods.  Untangling the harrow looks to be a harrowing experience.  Ha!  I have no idea if we will ever need it, but since we have a collection of cast off tractor implements, I was happy to add this one too.   

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