Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fresh Straw for the Chickens.

    I enjoyed my day off (Monday) and spent most of the day working outside.  I finished cutting up the bitter cherry tree that the wind knocked over in our chicken pen.  I clipped off the longer whips to use in rebuilding our little wattle fence. A wattle fence consists of posts driven into the ground at some regular interval, with slender whips woven between the uprights. It makes for a very picturesque fence made mostly from recycled materials. I do use treated poles for the uprights as otherwise the fence rots out too quickly. About every four years I have to redo the woven part.
I saved the trunk and larger branches of the bitter cherry for some woodworking projects. I'm going to try splitting the trunk to make a few primitive bows from it. I burned the intermediate size branches. Bitter cherry is a very dense hardwood that is suitable for furniture.  I'm thinking of using some of the bitter cherry as fodder for the lathe.

    There are still several other bitter cherry trees within the chicken pen and they serve a very useful function there. They provide both shade and protection for the chickens. A hawk flying overhead can't focus on the chickens under the branches.  I learned about this from a friend who raised free range broilers. She strung mylar flash tape from the tops of poles across her chickens' little pasture.  The hawk sees the tape, but doesn't see anything on the ground underneath the tape.

   Another project I did Monday was to lay down new straw in chicken and duck pens and in the goats' sleeping shelter. While the goats didn't seem to care one way or the other, the chickens were quite appreciative. They have spent the past few days happily scratching through the straw looking for the occasional head of wheat the combine missed. Scratch and peck, its what chickens do. I put straw in the chicken pen to keep them cleaner, but it turns out to be recreational from the chickens' perspective.  I also put in fresh straw in the coop. While I was cleaning out the nest boxes I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some of the hens have been laying for about a week.  I found fifteen eggs in one of the nest boxes.
Happy chickens in their freshly strawed pen

    My hen duck has also started to lay this week. So far she has laid two little pullet eggs.  We had a reasonably good supply of eggs when the hens stopped laying last fall. Our egg supply lasted us for about a month or so into early December. Then we actually had to buy eggs for two months.  Now we won't have to buy eggs again until this coming December.
Duck pullet egg compared to a normal size egg

    I started knitting another  tam hat on Monday.  My mother just recently knitted a wonderfully cute sweater for my grand daughter Madelynn using wool I had spun into yarn.  There is a fair amount of the wool left over so I thought I'd knit her a tam hat that would match her sweater.  It is light brown wool from an Islandic sheep. I didn't shear the sheep but rather traded for the wool with a package of honeybees.

Madelynn's new sweater, modeled by Linda

No comments:

Post a Comment