How to raise friendly chickens

Here at Gillis Gardens, we believe in happy, friendly animals. We believe that, with the right care any animal can become easy to handle and some even enjoy it.

So here are my top 5 tips to creating an unbreakable bond with your flock.

Seriously, start young- This is the big one. Just as soon as we get our babies, I inspect and hold for a moment. Then for the next several weeks, I go in and check on them CONSTANTLY. Any time I have an extra couple minutes, I hold my hand in the pen so they get used to my being in close proximity. Bonus point for when the braver ones start perching on your wrist or maybe even fall asleep on you.

Handle(gently) several times a day- even if only for a few seconds. I believe this gets them used to just being picked up. When you want to check out an adult bird, having them just submit to being picked up is a lot easier then trying to catch it.

Spend lots of time talking to them- We have our chicks set up in our storage room, which we have to walk thru to get to our laundry area. This means I get to talk to them, several times a day, without even having to do much else. I sing while I’m doing to laundry, I run thru my list of stuff to do for the day.. Or I just talk aloud. I want them to not only be used to my voice, but recognize it.

Back off if it’s to much for them- don’t stress your babies out. It wont help form a bond. Use the more trusting, social birds to draw out the nervous ones. Once they realize the other birds have nothing to fear, they will come along.

Don’t give up! – especially if its because they aren’t cute fluff butts anymore. They don’t stay like that long and that’s no excuse to treat them any differently.

Our girls are about a month old now, and they are growing like crazy.

These pictures are a week old already

I have several that like to fight for the perch on my hand/wrist and the shy girls cuddle up next to me. I can honestly say, with my arm in the box, they have all fallen asleep. That is trust, in a nutshell folks.

Well, that’s about all for this one. We were up late the last weeks worth of nights planting strawberries and putting up a fence… we also have a garden to plant, a kitchen to finish (lest we forget), and a whole list of other projects. Wish us luck!

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

Chicken Care 101- Spring Cleaning

Here at Gillis Gardens, we are big believers in preventative measures for maintaining good flock health. Part of that is a bi-annual coop cleaning.

As I have mentioned before in my Winterize Your Chickens Blog, we use the deep litter method to help keep our girls home warm in the coldest of Northern Maine winter. This means, come spring, the coop has about 10 inches of compacted, broken down, composted litter that needs to be removed, and replaced with nice new clean  pine shavings.

I used a shovel, a pitch fork and a wheelbarrow.

I had about 5 loads of great “brown” compost for our pile, and made the chickens very happy, I’m sure.

Izzy helped by giving them rocks.

Well, that concludes that. I know, its a short one, but trust me, it’s important to clean your coop. If you can smell something, your flock is breathing that in all night while they sleep. Preventative maintenance is worth every moment.

Otherwise, on the homestead, we are building a few things, so I’m going to call it on this one and move on to the next.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

The Aftermath- how we are making our chickens safe again.

When tragedy strikes on the homestead, you don’t really get the option to just give up. You still have animals relying on you for their everyday needs. After we lost 10 of our 16 chickens to a bobcat this last friday morning, we knew we needed to make a some big changes in order to protect our survivors and all other future livestock. So we came up with a 5 point plan, a few of which we’ve already started.

1. We have already called the game warden to become aware of our rights in protecting our livestock- First and foremost we have to prove knowledge of what animal we are dealing with. If it was a bobcat, we’re free and clear to shoot to kill if we have to. If its a lynx, we’re looking at trapping and rehoming somewhere VERY far away. This leads directly to-

2. Setting up cameras and motion detector lights to monitor and record all activity. Also, possibly going a bit overboard and buying a new 32 inch tv to watch monitors at all times. And hooking the cameras to our iphone to watch when away as well. BUT we’ve already caught a fox and possibly the bobcat both sniffing around again. It was at night while we were asleep, and the girls were locked up, but STILL.

3. Clean .22 rifle, bb rifle and air rifles- buy ammunition and have mrgillis teach me how to shoot – this is mostly for trying to scare the damn things away first. But if that should fail, we have to protect our animal family. Also, make sure said guns are in safe place, but easily accessible. We have a wall mounted rack on its way.

4. Check out chain link fencing with roof capabilities – find scrap tin roofing and buy clear pvc sheets from Amish. Construct superfence come this spring when the ground is thawed – dig foot deep/6 inch wide trench to lay welded wire in to create below ground barrier, then attach welded wire fence to chain link sections. Put on frame for a roof, do one half of roof in tin and other half in clear pvc sheets so the girls can get some sun or shade when they need it. Also, put henhouse directly on ground to save on fencing around bottom.

5. This spring/summer clear our immediate backyard of all birch, spruce, pine, brush, bushes and leave only beneficial to us trees, maples apples and other wild edibles. This was the plan anyway, but we feel a bigger sense of urgency to make it a priority.

Finally, I have given myself this weekend to be as upset as I need to be. I’ve eaten, drank, smoked, talked and cried my feelings from friday into last night, sunday. Today, is a new day, a new time. We will always love the hens we lost. They were all full of personality, love and most of them were good at cuddling. They gave us eggs, entertainment, a certain sort of stress relief and a sense of “hey we can raise things!” type of pride. Those memories and moments are an integral part to our story- Even the terrible way we lost them. Life is such. Time to focus on the future.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

Sometimes, Homesteading Just Really Sucks.

Like the random march morning when a bobcat comes in and kills half your flock.

oh wait, that was this morning. This fresh new nightmare started around 930am.

We lost some beautiful, smart, lovely egg laying ladies and my heart is really effing throbbing right now.

I want to say, you try to prepare yourself for things like this. We’ve had racoon attacks, one resulting in a death. But this friggen bob cat came in and JUST BROKE THEIR NECKS.

My poor girls. They died for NOTHING. The only solace we take is that most of it was probably quick.

my poor husband that had to call me at work and tell me he could only find 4 living chickens and they were out of the pen at the end of our neighbors driveway. For having to pick up the bodies of chickens we raised from a few days old til now 4 years later. who is now trying to figure out how to take care of the bodies in march, with 3 feet of snow on the ground still.

poor hawk, who was our sickly baby chick from our first flock, that was now fat, robust and going to outlive them all, we joked this very stupid morning. Who was the last chicken standing, that caught my husbands attention so he could stop the thing from doing more damage. That managed to get so much further away then the rest of the girls and could be seen from across the pond and street.

Poor Dawn, Buffy, Hen, Na, Falcon, Pippi, Lucy and Ethel as well, for having to live their last moments in fear.

Poor Scout, who is still missing somewhere out in the woods on our property. Who we have little hope of finding, now that it is snowing again and the bobcat has already been back once. (eta- we found Scout the next morning, several hundred yards away, in a clearing. She was the tenth loss. I’ll spare you the details.)

And my remaining girls, Peatree, BeeBee, Milk, Matilda, Luna and Rocky, for having to be stuck inside a coop where their flockmates were killed. I gave them watermelon rinds, strawberry tops, wheat bread scraps and other treats to help make them feel normal again. But I know, they know what happened. Their little chicken hearts are under some serious stress right now, and science shows, they have feelings like grief and empathy.

Lastly, poor me. I feel so defeated right now. I don’t know if I want to get more chickens  after all this. I, for a moment, made plans to give up having chickens altogether… find a new home for my remaining girls and just focus on plants.

But I can’t. I love owning chickens, even with the heartbreaks of late. The tidal wave of gratitude I felt at finding even 6 of them alive and healthy… I couldn’t give them up.

We are going to make big changes to the fence, we’re going to work extra hard to clear more forest and push back the boundary. We’re going to ensure a safer future for our flock.

But for today, we’re going to tell stories, and remember the girls that we lost today.

In light of this, I’m going to suspend the Chicken Profiler Blog Series I wrote about previously. Maybe later I can sit here and talk about how great all these hens were, but for now, I’d rather talk to my husband about them.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

On the Topic of Mail Order Chicks

After the disaster that was last week,  we had to sit down and give some real thought as to whether or not we wanted to try this whole mail order chick thing again. This whole order, was LITERALLY my worst nightmare come to life.

It was a really rough couple days. We spent a lot of time blaming ourselves for different reasons. It was too cold or we should have to driven to get them from Hampden… I went thru times of extreme self doubt… how could I really be a care conscientious livestock owner when I was ordering chicks and they were dying from the elements… when I had known that this was a real possibility but went ahead regardless because I selfishly wanted chicks in March.

We were on the fence as to how we were going to do this. We know that in order to be most cost effective in owning and rearing chickens, especially meat birds, we need to order them from a hatchery ourselves, and cut out the middle men like TSC.

I just…. I cried more for those poor little things, then I have in a long time. I feel like I deserve the blame for initiating the whole deal in the first place. My hubby, he’s pretty insistent that it isn’t my fault, but in the end, it was my decision to go ahead.

But, after much soul searching and discussion,, including conceding to the fact that we have about 40 bucks worth of chick stuff that can’t really be wasted, we decided to give this whole mail order chick thing one more go.

In April.

We figure, we’re getting good solid 40 degree days right now- its the overnight temps that probably did them in. Late next month should be ok.

And if it isn’t, then this mail order bird thing, it just isn’t for us.

Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that we spent so much getting ready, we’d probably call it for the year. But part of zero waste, is not wasting money or things we spent money on.

So, here we are. We’ve been doing plenty of other stuff around ye old homestead. MrGillis and our handyguy have been working away at the shed project. I got my newest order in for lotion ingredients. We’ve been beefing up security around about as well. In a town with no cops, its a good idea to have cameras, good heavy duty locks and motion sensor lights, honestly.

Also, I’m working on a new blog series that will be kind of sporadically thrown in- I am dubbing “The Chicken Profiler”. It’s going to be all about the breeds we’ve had over the years, filled with cool breed factoids and stories of crazy chicken antics.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Getting Ready for Chicks

In three rounds of bringing chicks home, and a total of 20 chicks bought, we have only lost one as a baby. I believe that it didn’t get the water that it needed to recoup after a long drive home in cold maine spring. It was a hard lesson, and one I hope to not repeat. But basically, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the what, where and how of raising baby chicks.

So, I’m going to share my tips for optimal chick rearing, starting at the most important step- Setting up your brooder area.

These are the steps I follow in the days before my chicks arrive, in order to assure they come into a safe home.

Step 1- choosing a brooder box – There are a couple of options here that are simple and quick to access. You can use a cardboard box, a plastic tote, a dog crate, an old tub…. None of these things are going to fit your chickies for long but they all have a certain amount of usefulness for the first 4 to 6 weeks of life. We use a big 45 gallon tote that is fairly heavy duty. The walls are pretty high and after they learn to jump out, we cover it with bird netting and it keeps them in until they need more space. We then move them into a bigger cage we made ourselves for the remainder of their brooding time. This time, with 15 chicks, we’ll probably have to use our dog crate too. The important thing to remember tho, use something that is easily cleaned, or easily replaced. Chicks are messy and need to be cleaned out often or you’ll end up with a big stinky problem on your hands and fast.


Step 2 – Choosing a watering system- We use a standard 1 gallon drinker fount. The smaller one, the one made especially for chicks, just gets knocked over and is essentially useless. The wide base on this type of drinking setup keeps it from getting knocked over by curious and active birds.

step 3 – choosing a litter – For the first few days to week, we use paper towels. This is for a couple reasons. One, you can watch for any odd poop. Two, if an accidental water spill happens, its a lot easier to clean up. Three, there is nothing for the little ones to choke on. We introduce pine shavings, the same litter we use in our coop, as they get older. Lastly, it’s easy for them to walk on, and they wont end up with splayed/spraddled foot/leg syndrome, which is a killer in most cases.

step 4 – choosing a feed and feeder – we order chicks that have been un-medicated for Coccidiosis, but HAVE been vaccinated for Marek’s, so we use a standard medicated growers feed. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW. Please find out the details behind your chicks before purchasing their food. Whatever decision you make regarding your chicken’s feed, just please be informed.

step 5 – choosing a heat source and monitoring system – we use a brooder lamp with porcelain base with a red bulb and a safety thermometer that we bought at walmart for 97 cents. The red bulb is supposed to be easier on the girls and reduce pecking and fighting and we have had great luck with it over the years. In fact, we are still on the first bulb we ever bought and we have run that sucker a lot.

step 6 – to supplement, or to not – We supplement our chicks diet with a ultrakibble and chick grit. Also we buy a babycake for them to peck at for a hour or so a day after they are a few days old. Lastly, when we first bring them home, we put Braggs apple cider vinegar  (the good kind with the mother in it)  in their water.. just a little tho. This year, we’ll be adding a bit of homemade electrolytes as well because they’ll be coming directly from the post office. This is a call you have to make for your situation. I figure, the better a start you give them, the better a life they will live.

Homemade Electrolytes (not just for chicks!)

1 Cup Water
2 teaspoons honey or sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Step 7 – choosing your chick dealer – We have always bought our chickens thru stores in the past, and this has always worked fairly well for us. This year tho, we decided to try ordering from a hatchery directly. After lots of looking around, we decided to go with Hoover’s Hatchery for a couple different reasons. They offer a pretty good variety of birds and they have FREE SHIPPING on all orders. Also, their vaccination prices are excellent- super cheap per bird, not 2 or 3 bucks per bird, like some hatcheries I looked at.

So that’s about that for now… a brooder all set up with no chicks to live in it for about another week… my future girls haven’t even been hatched yet, and I am practically DYING. But I guess I’ll just have to contain myself….

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

Exciting news on the homestead! 

Yesterday, we placed an order with Hoover’s Hatcheries for 15, day old chicks to be shipped to us the week of March 13th!  We are very excited, because CHICKENS and FREE SHIPPING! Our entire order of 15 female chicks, with Mareks vaccinations for all, was 65 bucks and change!

And free shipping! Like, we really cannot get over that… Other hatcheries that sell to Maine charge upwards of $60 for just shipping. And the prices for the chicks are only a bit more. Totally worth it (though, on a side note, the other hatcheries I looked at, Meyer’s  and Murray McMurray, have excellent prices on meat birds, and even with the shipping,so we’ll probably be going with one of those places… I mean check out this Fry Pan Bargain .)

This gives us two weeks to get a brooder set up, and supplies regathered.

So the lowdown on our new chicken breeds-

We are getting a speckled Sussex, a couple Polish, a couple new Amercuanas, an Asian blue, an Amberlink, a golden laced Wyandotte, a Welsummer, a Favorelle, and 4 hatchery choice rare breeds, which could be Silkies or Cochins or Buckeyes, anything considered a rare breed, really… depends on the hatch yield for that day. I couldn’t really make up my mind so I figured hopefully they’ll send me different breeds then what I ordered, and make sure they are cold hardy…. seeing as how they know they are shipping to Maine.

AND the other super exciting news for now, we ordered our seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds, a Maine company that we really love and feel good supporting with our hard earned dollars. Included in that order, but not limited to- popcorn seed, beets, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, peas, carrots, peppers and STRAWBERRIES. We got one hundred bare root Honeoye plants, one hundred bare root Sparkle plants and 1000 Alexandria seeds. We’ll be receiving the seeds this month, but the Roots won’t be here until may 17th or so. But that just gives us time to amend the soil to their needs! This is going to be an amazing spring.

Otherwise, its off to the daily rigamarole of housework and making pizza for supper.

Until next time, have a wicked good night!

DIY Warriors – 2nd Week of 2017

It’s barely into the New Year and we already have a list of projects a mile long. We have a kitchen to rip out, completely renovate ceiling to floor, and then put back in with new appliances. That is so we have a place to boil down our saps to make syrups this coming spring.

This is turning into a way bigger project then we originally anticipated. When we first talked about getting this done as our next big deal, we figured we had to take out the old appliances, take up ONE floor, tear down the walls and ceiling, replace those with new walls and ceilings, then put in the new floor and appliances.

To even get started, we had a whole lot of cleaning up to do. We moved the fridge, took out all the boards, removed every single nail and screw from said boards, so they could be stacked neatly on some improvised shelves… This in itself was a couple hours of work. Loud, repetitive, blah-type work. But with some tunes playing and a switch off of work detail, we made it thru.

MrGillis also insulated and covered the last window we plan on boarding up.

Then, we brought the fridge over, plugged her in and made plans to start using it for extra food storage the next day….

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Just Kidding! About 15 minutes after we plugged her in, and she hummed to life, I started smelling a bad, metal frying odor… from, you guessed it! The fridge is dead. I spent all kinds of time cleaning this thing, for really nothing. Apparently, after MrGillis got rid of it, he detected the cause of the engine malfunction… a mouse had set up house. To bad for them, to bad for us. We were looking forward to a second fridge for eggs and such this summer. I’ve learned a good lesson about putting off icky cleaning projects in the shed tho. Which brings me to my next big deal.

While the hubby worked on his window project, I took to time to get into our chicken room and clean it up and get it organized. I’m sad to say that in the hustle and bustle of moving, especially with having an injured Hen at the same time, it got pretty bad in there for a few weeks. Like, I hesitate to post these pictures, because straight up ashamed. But no chickens were in here while it was like this, so no fowl were fouled, and for the sake of being real with you folks, here it is.

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Yep, in all its glory, my mess of a chicken hospital/storage area.

I quickly untrashed the room, reorganized the whole kit and caboodle and was able to fit everything that was already in there, plus their food, treats and shavings. Even with the toilet and old shower stall floor still in the way. My next project was to pull the old shower floor up, but low and behold, that sucker would not budge… The shower drain is attached under the floor and needs to be capped off in the dug out basement in order for the stall floor to be removed.

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Curse you, ugly stupid thing.

 

So we are at a standstill on the particular project, along with the eventual removal of the toilet. We have bigger fish to fry.

I spent a little time switching to keeping our chicken food in bags, to keeping it in big containers. I got this 3 pack from target on sale and it was so totally worth it. They’re huge… like holds a whole bag and a half of feed at once, huge. And they are pretty solid too. I wouldn’t stack them up on top of each other with all the weight of the feed and grains tho. That seems like a recipe for dusty disaster.

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With us getting to a point of some time left in the day, but projects quickly hitting walls and such, we decided to bring our two freezers over to the new place from our old home. We had a nice, cold, zero degree day, and knew we could pretty much throw everything onto the back of the truck in bags, load up our two mini freezers, and get everything back in without any of it thawing. This project was a couple hours tops, and now all our food storage is on our slice of earth. This makes life much easier, and me much happier.

That was the end of our day for then tho, because life is life and we had other work type stuff to do…. Like eat peanut butter pie.

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So, a few days later, we got back to work in the kitchen. We decided it was really time to hammer down and get the kitchen ripped out. The hubby went to town starting to get the first wall down… He got all the window trim boards off, and went to go take the floor trim off when he realized, the trim boards were behind the floor. So, he gets to work, takes up the vinyl flooring (with my helpful self as well) and when we get that taken up, he gets his screw gun and saw so we can take up the sub floor. VhoopVhoopVhhhhhoooop and all kinds of screws are going everywhere. It seems like we might actually get this floor up, at least to the sink, soonish.

Well, as always, this old shed has thrown us for a loop. Its not one floor. Its not two floors. ITS THREE FRIGGEN LAYERS OF FLOOR WE HAVE TO TEAR UP. It appears, that in the life of this kitchen, when it was being used as a home, that there was at some point, some pretty major water damage to the kitchen floor. Well, from what we can tell, the quick fix for this particular problem was to lay down a new sub floor. And then do it again when the damage got worse. Then they laid down tile.

So, in order to take down the walls, which are built down to the original floor, obviously, we have to rip up all the floors, then rip down the walls and then we can take out the ceiling.

Thankfully, we’re not really afraid of work. But holy old moly. We now have a plumber coming in the disconnect all the water in the kitchen so we can just tear it all out and get it done. He also will be putting in a small spigot for me to get water out of so i can keep our chickens and indoor plants happy. And if he has time, he might be taking care of that shower drain for me too, but I’m just really happy to be getting the kitchen completely torn the heck out.

So that’s about that for right now. We have been doing lots of other stuff, like eating a delicious peanut butter pie(sorry, I really can’t help it, it is really good), and we’re getting ready to make some lotion this weekend, because we’ve had some people place some orders thru my mum. We joined Instagram and I have to say, I love playing with the filters. They make the chickens feathers so vivid.

I’ll have more to post soon, promise, I’ve even got about 10 drafts going.

Until that time tho, have a wicked good night.

 

Tips for Cold Weather Hens

We got our first batch of chicks in may of 2012- and we are now entering our fourth consecutive winter of keeping chickens outside. We have always kept our flock happy and healthy by following a few pretty diehard rules- which can be difficult in -40(F) degree windchill for two weeks at a time. But we’ve been successful, in not only keeping our chickens alive, but thriving even in the most bitter of it.

So, here it goes, our top tips for a healthy, happy flock this winter-

  1. DO NOT BUY A HEATER/LIGHT OF ANY SORT.  – I am so super serious about this. We’ve never heated or lit our coop, and yeah egg production goes down, but we’ve never had a problem with frost bite, and we’ve never lost our coop and chickens to a fire. Every year I hear news stories about people losing their whole flocks, or worse homes and families, to fires started by heat lamps. They are dangerous when around chickens and other livestock- and a definitive NO for our homestead.
  2. DO your research about your girls before bringing them home – don’t bring home chickens that aren’t winter hardy. You’re just asking for extra work to keep them healthy and still, they might not make the extreme temps. We have a rainbow flock of everything from americanas to delewares to orpingtons, to our lone wyandotte, hen. But they are ALL winter hardy breeds with characteristics like smaller combs and waddles, very little ornamental feathering, generally docile temperaments -because living space can get crowded with 2 feet of snow all around…We’ve had great luck with every breed we’ve purchased, but its also because we do our research and don’t try to force something that isn’t natural
  3. DO get a heated water setup. – having consistent access to water is ESSENTIAL to good chicken health, especially in the winter. We keep ours inside the coop with the girls elevated on a cement slab so we can watch for any kind of leakage.  I’ve also been eyeing this heated outdoor dog bowl as a nice outdoor water dish, once the hubby allows more in the chicken budget. img_0557 
  4. DO use pine shavings and the deep litter method. I know, it sounds so gross- but there are a couple of really solid reasons to at least consider it. The composting droppings create a lot of heat- I just make sure to add a fresh bag in every few weeks to keep the smell fresh and piney. I swear, the deep litter method is a LIFE SAVER in the super cold months of January and February. Plus you get really nutrient dense compost a couple times a year. I literally deep clean my coop twice a year. Once in the spring, around abouts April, and again in September. Just remember, the deep litter method can be dangerous if you have leaks, water constantly spilling or the habit of not keeping up with fresh shaving. Chickens have very sensitive respiratory systems and if you can smell the droppings, they are suffering.

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  5. DO give your chickens plenty of boredom busters- when cabbages are on sale, we’ll grab a couple and throw one in the run or coop for the girls to kick around… theres usually nothing left the next day…also if its so cold out that I don’t open the door at dawn, like usual, I will fill a tray with all kinds of scraps (chicken friendly of course) and my winter scratch mix and throw it in on the floor for them to go crazy in. img_0611
  6. DO let your girls decide if they want to go out, FOR THE MOST PART. On those aforementioned -40 degree days, they had to stay inside, but for the most part, as long as the wind isn’t to bad, I’ll let them decide and they almost always decide to hang out in the pen for at least a couple hours. My general rule of thumb is, if my nose and eyes aren’t freezing shut, then they can make up their own minds about it… this only really happens in below zero weather.
  7. DO be ready for extra work- I spend most mornings shoveling, because for weeks at a time we’ll get an inch or two every other night.. and then we have actual storms that can dump anywhere from 6 inches to two feet. And those paths to and from the out buildings, and the run itself, certainly do not clean themselves out, no sir. That’s not including the several trips a day I make, back and forth to ensure food, water and security are up to par.
  8. DO teach yourself about chicken diet and nutritional needs. CORN IS NOT A GOOD SUMMER TREAT- it is, however perfect for winter- it heats your chicken up but is low in nutritional value. Corn should only be given before they go to roost at night, in the late fall to early spring to help them stay warm at night. Sorry/notsorry, but I am passionate about that. Make sure to give your girls extra protein packed snacks like sunflower seeds when they are molting to help them grow their feathers back in.
  9. DO keep things like petroleum jelly in your first aid kit- we’ve never had any real problem with frost bit combs UNTIL this year with lucy… it appears that the damage to her comb included damage to the blood flow and supply.. what didn’t die after the attack this spring, is now very badly frost bit and will probably fall off. The petroleum jelly keeps it from getting worse by protecting it from the elements and also any bacteria that might cause further infection
  10. DO create wind barriers- as in the above pictures you can see our coop is elevated. This is for a couple reasons, but for the winter it provides shelter from the elements. To further this ,we put up wind barriers, so they can really, truly enjoy the outside- even in the deepest part of winter.

I’m sure that I’ll expand this list as I go into more years of owning chickens in Maine, but for now, this is a pretty good start I’d say.

I guess, if I were to really have one last piece of advice-

11. Be Flexible. Problems arise, that  no matter how well you think you may be prepared for, that you have covered every eventuality, you will find out, you have not… and those are the lessons covered in

 

Now, that that is all said and done, have a wicked good night.

 

Setting up the homestead- The finale

Well, not really a finale per-say, because we’ll be working on this for the rest of our lives, but for 2016, this is what we’ve gotten done in the last few months. If you’d like to catch up here is 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.

When we last left off, our new mobile home was being delivered and set up.

Just this in itself turned into a pretty large job- there was water and septic to hook up, propane tank and lines to run, along with propane appliances- dryer, stove and heater to convert and hook up. Then the dishwasher and clothes washer need to be brought in and installed. Electricity, phone and internet all had to come in and be hooked on as well.

After that was loading/unloading fifty bazillion truck loads and moving in ourselves, our cats, our tree frog and all our belongings, some of which we also have to assemble- things like the new kitchen island and bar stools, bookshelves, shelves… all while packing/unpacking and organizing some things so we can reuse boxes, because we have way more things then ways to pack them.

I have three sets of china. THREE. Two which have been handed down to me and one MrGillis bought me for christmas one year. Moving when you’re thirty is much different then the last time we did this in our twenties.

If my photo montage seems a little crazy and confused, well congrats, you get it, that’s how life has been for the last 8 weeks. Because oh yeah, we managed to do this in the time immediately before thanksgiving until basically now. In fact that’s a lie. We’re still not completely moved. Both our freezers, all our baby aloe pups, a bunch of our gardening stuff… all still at the old place. Thankfully, the old landlords like us.

So yeah, it was pretty much 8 weeks of malarkey… but we got the gist of it done, including our chickens moved and everything.

This was a bit of a project as well, as my honey do, had to put up the fence by himself… luckily he had access to a loader to use as a makeshift fence post pusher. He then stapled the fencing to them and we used another loader and a super nice fella to run it to get the coop over here. My mil took some pictures on her ipad at the time, and if I can ever get them, I promise I’ll add them in because I’m sure they’ll add to the photo narrative.

Why is there snow on the ground in one picture you ask? Because that’s fall in Maine. And sometimes we get what is referred to as just a dustin’.  We no sooner moved the coop and the next day, this happened.

That, is not a dustin’…..There’s my wonderful hubby, hooking up the inside heated water base, so our girls can have access to fresh water all the time, without me freezing my crazy chicken loving ass off trying to keep them in water all day.

All the while we’re moving, we’re also installing more floor in the shed (three down, three to go, YEA!), a wood stove and its piping, and filling  all the finished rooms to the absolute brim full of our stuff.

 

AND all of this is while Hen our silver laced wyandotte, was in the chicken hospital with a ripped comb. That took about the two weeks worth of tlc, vetericyn sprays, yummy treats and occasional escapes to some grassy areas to heal up, and by the time we had the coop moved she was able to go back out with the other girls.

 

As of today, Jan. 3 2017, you couldn’t even really tell she ever had a problem.

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Now, its the beginning of a new year, we have a bunch of projects ahead of us. We have a kitchen to get into working order before sap runs, a chicken hospital to tear apart and rebuild before any other chickens get hurt, and a wood stove that is, as of now, not working with a very long cold 2-3 months ahead of us- and that’s a mini version of just the shed list.

I also have a whole 7 blogs drafted, other then this one, with topics ranging from cold weather chicken care to cooking to more lifestyle. So stay tuned, I’ll try to bust them out more regularly.

Have a wicked good evening.