My chicken thinks she’s a dog

When we first brought our chicks home this spring, I would hold them daily to get them used to us, but I wanted them to get used to more than just the people in their new family. They also had to get used to our dog, Max, and Max had to learn to like them.
To get them acquainted, I would hold the chicks down, fully enclosed in my hand and let Max sniff them. He would take a sniff and then walk off. I breathed a sigh of relief after the first couple of encounters when he didn’t try to eat them.
All went well, and Max learned to like the chickens and even is protective of them, chasing off anything he thinks is getting too close when they are out in the yard. He doesn’t chase the chickens or bark at them. It was better than I could have hoped.
As it turns out, it really was more than I had hoped for. A few days ago I noticed one of our Buff Orpington’s hanging around Max more than the others. She seemed curious about him. I often saw them nose to beak. [Sigh of relief.] He still didn’t try to eat her.
The latest development has been that she now follows Max around the yard. All of her sisters will be off looking for bugs in the grass and there she is right behind Max. When they are let out of their run, the others flap around and start pecking, and she makes a beeline for Max. He puts up with her for a while, then tries to escape her. Only once has he growled at her, and that was after she pecked him twice. The first time he backed away, but apparently the second time was too much. But he didn’t hurt her, and it doesn’t seem to have deterred her efforts to be his buddy.
I can’t decide if she thinks she’s a dog, or she thinks Max is her mother. Either way, it’s entertaining.

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Benefits of soaker hoses

With my new garden and new methods such as raised beds, I also decided to try a new watering system. In my reading and preparing for this year’s garden season, and my first garden on our new farm, I kept running across the benefits of using soaker hoses.
It sounded like a great idea so I decided to give it a try. I found a catalogue with a system, measured how much I would need, and figured up the order. Once I had my garden planted, I pulled out the supplies. I had ordered a snip n clip system so I could make it the lengths I wanted and also not waste water by watering in between my beds. It was a piece of cake to put together and soon water was flowing.
One thing I did quickly learn was the longer the section of soaker hose, the less water that part of the garden received, even if I kept it under the recommended 100 feet.
I had to get some additional Y adapters and split my watering system into four sections so I can turn just one on at a time. It is working much better.
Next year I think I will try running a separate hose down each row, instead of winding it up and down a couple. From what I’ve seen so far, I think that will water even more evenly.
Some of the benefits included getting water right to the roots and not wasting water to evaporation or getting leaves wet. I would say these are all true. How much it saves on a water bill? I’ll have to leave that up to you to decide since I don’t have a previous bill here to compare it to.
Happy watering!

Venturing out into the world

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The girls had a big day last weekend. It was time to step outside of the safe confines of their coop and run into the big, scary world. OK, maybe not so scary to them, at least as long as I was standing there.
I opened the door to the run and it took a few moments then Alice, my brave, try-everything-first girl, took the first steps out into freedom. After seeing her peck around a few moments, the others were quick to follow. They began scratching and nibbling at some fresh, green grass. Inside their run has become mostly dirt very quickly, partly from us walking all over it while building the coop and the rest from them.
For the first trip out, any loud noise sent them scurrying back to the safety of their run. I was happy to see that. If a predator was in the area, at least they would know where to go.
I have let them out a few more times since then and they enjoy flapping, flying and chasing each other around, as well as snacking on fresh greens.
The only problem has been my garden. I knew it could be an issue once they discovered it since it’s not fenced in yet, I just didn’t expect them to stumble upon it so quickly. They have a huge grassy area after all, I don’t know what keeps attracting them to the garden. In efforts to protect my growing garden the girls only get to venture out when I’m around.
Because they wander in and out of the run the whole time, putting them up has not been too much of an issue. Only a few times I have had to chase a couple around the outside of the run a time or two before I got them in the door. Once they all actually went in on their own.
I try to give them a treat of lettuce or fruit when I put them back in, so they look forward to it.
Now every time I walk by their run, they all go hurrying to the door, hoping to have another little taste of freedom.

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Loving the raised beds

When I started planning for my garden, I knew I wanted to try some raised beds. I’d read a lot of positive things about them. So we made another trip to the lumber store – they know us by name there now – and got the needed supplies. That included three pieces of 2×12 lumber eight feet long. I was going to make my raised beds 4×8 feet and 12 inches high.
They didn’t take long to construct, in fact, my husband did most of it by himself while I was working on making one more pass over the area they would be placed with the tiller. After raking away all of the loose dirt, so I would have it to fill the beds with, I tilled up the ground under where the raised beds would be placed. That would give the roots and root vegetables even more loose soil in which they could grow and expand. With the soil ready to go, we lined up the three raised beds along the edge of my garden. I filled them with the dirt I had raked away. It filled them about 2/3 of the way. That would have to do for now because we didn’t have any more extra soil to use. I figure as I continue to mix in mulch each season they will fill up quickly.
Once everything was in place I stepped back to survey it. They looked great. I could tell already not only would they provide a littler easier access when weeding, but they kept the garden looking neat and tidy. The only thing I wish I had — enough to complete the entire garden, but that will have to wait. Some of my vegetables will just have to make due in the regular ground.
I’m looking forward to seeing if things, especially the root vegetables like carrots and potatoes grow better in the raised beds, and if they require less weeding like I read. Off to play in the dirt now.

A new hobby — like I have time for that

Everyone needs to take a few moments to relax now and then. After successfully rewiring our boat trailer we drove the 3 hour round trip to pick up the newest addition to our farm, a 12-foot jon boat. We’d been looking for a while and finally found the perfect one. We loaded it up and made the trek back home. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with oars so we had to wait to try it out until we could get some the next day. Once we did the first order of business was to get that boat into the water. Everything else could wait, right? You have to have you priorities. It was great! We would row around for a little while, then just drift for a while enjoying the sounds of nature. Now I’m always looking for a few minutes to spend out on the boat, without neglecting too much. It is a great way to relax after a long day and we got it at a great time with all of the rain lately. When I woke up this morning our pond is only a couple of inches from being completely full. Maybe a morning row is in order.

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