Friday, September 28, 2012

Chickens poop. A lot.

Chickens poop. A lot.
I am sorry for the harsh verbiage, but I was cleaning coops yesterday and was up to my eyeballs in...ummm... repurposed chicken feed, so to speak. Does that sound better?
Now, I don't mean to insult your intelligence, dear readers. I know that intellectually you understand the concept that chickens poop, and that they are...well...messy birds, but, unless you have raised them you may not know the depths to which this is true.
It doesn't matter how "Free range" your birds are, or how many acres they have available to roam. They're gonna poo in the coop. Always. IN THE COOP.
With fall weather swiftly making its arrival, I felt the need to get the barns and coops winterized and ready for the animals. I want them to be as comfortable as possible once they start spending more time inside during the fall and winter months. 

The chicken coops are always the most time-consuming part of the process. The sheep, horses, and llamas can be messy as well, but their messes are generally limited to the floor of the barns. Chickens, on the other hand, roost on their high perches, making messes on the floor, down the walls, on the perches, and have, on occasion, made a mess or two on me when I haphazardly walk beneath a perch in the wee hours of the morning.
Too much information?
I do not use any chemical cleaners in the coops, and I am always trying to find natural products for cleaning and disinfecting around the birds.
I have used vinegar with good success, but I wanted to share my favorite weapon in the coop - cleaning arsenal.
Hydrogen peroxide. 
Yup, the kind you get in the drug store for less than a buck. 
In the concentration sold in drug stores, it is completely safe.
It's cheap, it cleans, it disinfects, and best of all, it fizzes. 

This is a 'before' picture of the gross, dirty perch. The chicken in the background probably came inside to add to the mess.

A few sprays of Hydrogen Peroxide.

Now, let's look at that again.
It makes my little OCD heart so happy. It's like you can see the germs dying.

After a couple of minutes, I take a putty knife and lightly brush the perch. The gunk just wipes off!
Look at that! It's a thing of beauty!

For those of you that are new to my blog, you should probably know, if you haven't already figured it out, I have issues. Or as my cousin would say, I don't have issues, I have a subscription. He underestimates me. I don't have a subscription, I own the magazine and the publishing company.

Now, go clean your chicken coop!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Konrad's revenge

 I always like to keep a handful of roosters around the farm. 
Their only job is to wander around the property, eating bugs and making happy rooster noises.

We have pretty roosters...err...I should say handsome roosters.

Stately, strong roosters.

Debonair roosters. 

....aaaaaand we have Konrad.

Konrad is young, so he isn't quite as...fancy, as some of the other boys. 
Not yet anyway.

His feet are downright creepy. 
He is a Salmon Faverolle, so he has a fifth toe, which is characteristic of the breed.. 

The bigger boys aren't very nice to Konrad. They don't physically pick on him, but they only allow him on the outskirts of the group. 
He's not allowed at the 'cool kids' lunch table.

The others sometimes chase him off when they find a tasty snack and they don't want to share it with him.

But Konrad is patient, he just keeps trying to befriend the bigger boys.

Konrad may not be as magnificent as some of the older boys, yet, but he has something going for him that the other boys don't. 

Like the scientist, Konrad Lorenz, after whom he is named, Konrad the rooster is a thinking man. 
He is a problem solver.

I was working in the garden one day, and the roosters trotted along with me, hoping that I would save them a little work by stirring up some tasty bugs. 
When I failed to produce anything to their liking, they eventually lost interest in what I was doing and wandered off to check the raspberry patch nearby. 

Our yellow raspberries are ripening, and they are a tempting treat for the marauding band. 
I had to chuckle at the persistence of my feathered friends as they stood on their tiptoes, and occasionally jumped to try to reach the sweet fruits.

The roosters are able to pluck all the fruit that grows closer to the ground, but they miss out on some of the elusive, golden fruit at the top of the raspberry canes, just outside of their reach.

So close, but so far away :(.

We tend to have a lot of birds of prey flying over during this time of year, checking the newly harvested fields for an easy snack, so I try to keep an eye on the roosters when they follow me out to garden in the back of our property. Although roosters are fairly large, that doesn't stop the hawks from trying to nab them. 

While I was busy working, I began to wonder where Konrad had gone, I hadn't seen him for some time, so I stopped what I was doing to take a look. 
I heard a rustling sound coming from the back of the berry patch, and when I peered around the back, I had to chuckle at the resourcefulness of my little buddy.

He found a piece of fencing that had been leaning along the side of the raspberries, and he climbed on it until his weigh toppled it over onto the top if the patch where he was able to reach all the best fruits.

" I'm king of the woooorld!"

"Nom, nom, nom"

"Hey, guys! Where'd the little dude go?"

"Seriously, dude, how'd you get up there?"

"Brains over brawn, my friends, brains over brawn."

Who's the cool rooster now?

Friday, September 21, 2012

So long summer, don't let the door hit you!

Saturday will be the official start of the Fall season, and although I am not normally in a hurry to bid farewell to the bright sun and warm summer breeze, but this year I say, good riddance summer! You were kind of a P.I.T.A. ( Pain. In. The....)!

The weather has recently taken a turn and we have gotten some rain over the past few weeks. Not a lot, but it has been enough rain to turn the pastures green again and to provide some much-appreciated relief from the heat. A few days ago it was 90 degrees and now the predicted temperature overnight on Saturday is expected to dip to 32 degrees which means, in all likelihood, we will see frost on the pumpkins....if I would have planted pumpkins...but I didn' in this instance it is only a figure of speech.

The signs of the changing seasons abound as the fields turn from drought induced yellow, to a more seasonal harvest gold- we'll take it! Remember in the 60's and 70's when all the appliances were Harvest Gold? I didn't like it on appliances, but I like it in the field....I digress.
 I don't know if we will have any Autumn color in the trees this year. Because of the unusually dry summer many of the leaves seem to be simply drying up, and falling off, without changing color. But even if the trees don't give us a show, I still love the colors, the lighting and the shadows that this time of year brings.
Of course I have been taking a few (hundred) pictures.

Thistles growing along the fence.

Soybean field ready for harvest..

Checkers, anyone?

These are some of my Amish Cockscomb. I love these guys. The flowers can grow to be almost a foot across, and they are so brainy...errr..they look like brains. 

These flowers contain probably eleventy billion seeds nestled all along their sides. The seeds fall out once the flowers dry, peppering the ground around them. Eleventy billion is a real number, if you saw these seeds you would understand.
I never have to plant these flowers....due to the aforementioned numerous seeds that hit the ground they tend to self-seed and I have many volunteers every year.

I just realized that I have a lot of red-based flowers. Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Other signs of fall are evident around the farm. The rams are getting....rambunctious, smelling the air for lady-sheep perfume.
Yeah, you probably noticed that Avyt isn't going to starve to death anytime soon. He has remained...ummm... a very healthy weight in spite of the lack of grass this year.

Speaking of rams, I still have a few boys available to good homes..not the spotted gulmoget in the middle, he's taken ;). There is more info about these boys on my Shetland Sheep for Sale link on this blog.

So, on to the next season! Good-bye summer.
Breeding groups will be decided soon and thoughts of spring lambs will soon be dancing in my head.

I know that I have made, and broken, this promise many times recently, but I vow to update my blog on a more regular basis!!!
A couple of weeks ago I was whining to some friends at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival about the rut that I have fallen into, and my general lack of enthusiasm and creativity lately,  my friend Garrett looked at me and said, "WELL, KNOCK IT OFF, LADY!!"
Well played, G. Well played..
That's what friends are for, right?

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