Trial and error.
Thats how I go about my learning on the farm.
Try something, watch how it responds, and fix it. When I fed my plants whey without diluting it first, I learned a hard lesson. The plants all rejected the nutrients. When I threw some plants in the dirt and they grew, I learned a valuable lesson in propagating.
Live and learn.
Some of this week is trial and error. Luckily for me, most of the week was not followed by error.
Momma Hen Left the Babies...
I repeat, momma hen left her babies!
You are reading this right…. at 5 weeks old the momma hen left her babies!
I let them all out to free range and Big Red just went with the rest of the flock, not carefully bringing her babies to the tall grass to forage.
The babies still went through the tall grass to the woods.
I was not okay.
I was staring at Big Red like… AREN’T YOU GOING TO DO YOUR JOB?!
Nope. She was with her friends again.
I did NOT trust the babies just yet so I put everyone back into the coop. 😳
Fast forward a few days, and everyone forages their own way and I am still cautious, but the babies listen as soon as I call them!
Also – apparently chickens have a short-term memory because whenever I feed them mealworms, Big Red has always been the hen that pecks the other birds away so she can get the most. Her babies are now in that category… she pecks them away so she gets her share.
Thank goodness I am not a chicken.
Little Ricky is All Grown Up.
I got that same feeling I got whenever I put the babies outside this spring.
That feeling of not having anymore patience for certain smells in my house. The feeling of being fed up with filling the FOUR food and water dishes multiple times a day and changing the bedding three times a day.
Ducks are messy.
Ricky was spilling the water all over the bedding as soon as I filled the water. Not only was the water gone within minutes or filling it, the bedding was now wet and smelly.
We were going up north for the weekend and I couldn’t ask someone to come change the entire brooder bedding 2x a day.
Ricky got the boot.
I put Ricky in the big coop and watched as the big birds and little birds interacted with her (more on this later).
Everyone was nice to Ricky.
When chickens enter a chicken coop they have a big ego. The current chickens put them in a pecking order. It’s a hard process to watch at first, but usually necessary.
Ducks entering a chicken coop are so humble. They just lay down. They don’t test boundaries or anything.
Since Big Red was no longer protecting her babies, I knew she wouldn’t peck at Ricky.
The birds were confused but saw Ricky was no threat and just went on their merry way.
Ricky follows the rooster, Darth Vader, around while free ranging. It’s pretty cute.
Also, I am pretty sure Little Ricky is a GIRL. Yass. More duck eggs! Her quack is developing and male ducks have a quiet quack while female ducks have a slight honk. Ricky’s quack is deepening.
All Da Babies are Grown Up.
After a successful weekend of Little Ricky in the coop, I realized that maybe the baby chicks could go in the coop now.
Maybe putting the babies in the coop now would be best because there is no pecking order needed for all of the little ones. All of the big birds won’t necessarily feel the need to pick on the littles because they’re used to the other ten already in the coop.
I tested it out with one brooder baby.
The chick was probably pretty stressed, but the other birds didn’t even realize that there was a new chick in their house. So, to comfort the chick I put the rest of the brooder chicks in the coop.
They assimilate into their new home with ease.
I have never had a brooder batch integrate into the coop so easily in my eight years of chicken ownership.
In the brooder I had 4 hatchery chicks and 1 that we hatched. Ironically when I put them in the coop the one we hatched blended into the rest of the chicks we hatched. The smallest hatched chick from the coop hangs with the brooder babies.
Straw in the Garden.
Our small garden is being overrun by weeds because I never put mulch down.
I scooped the chicken coop that was filled with straw and chicken droppings. Transferred it into a wheelbarrow and set the hose on it. I learned this trick from a local farm. The wet straw kind of binds together when placed in the garden and blocks out weeds. Plus it keeps the moisture below the straw locked in.
The nitrogen from the chicken droppings will seep into the soil when you water it and fertilize the garden. Some of our veg needs a little boost.
Another great way to fertilize the garden is a trick I learned from the great Monty Don.
With gloves on, take nettle clippings and put them in a bucket. Cover with water and let sit for 3 weeks. This is a makeshift compost tea and can be done with nettles, comfrey, or rhubarb leaves. I am sure others as well could be used.
Compost tea can be used to fertilize the garden. I plan on diluting our tea when using. I am making 5 gallons with a 1.5” grouping of nettles. The plan is to divide this into 3 – 5 gallon pails.
I also used a bunch of nettles to dry for tea.
They don’t sting or burn your mouth like they do when they’re fresh. Stinging Nettles actually have a lot of benefits:
- High in Vitamins and Minerals
- Alleviate Hay Fever
- May Lower Blood Pressure
- Lower Blood Sugar Levels
- Antioxidants Aid Liver Health
As a friend of mine says, it cures all that ails you. Nettles is great to have on hand to treat overall health. I can’t wait to use it!
Nettles may also be used fresh in cooking and tastes similar to spinach. Some like it with eggs or add it to their soup.
For the landscape around the house, the plan is to get hydrangeas bordered by hostas.
I have three tiny hydrangea plants going and took cuttings from one of these to propagate three more. I also clipped a couple cuttings from my in-laws plants as well as from a rose bush.
Hopefully some of these cuttings take and I can plant them in the ground before frost. I will know when they take once new growth appears on the cuttings.
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,