Clean as a Whistle

DSC_0821 Don't you wish sometimes you could freeze time? Like after you have just finished deep-cleaning your chicken coop. All the cobwebs are swept away, all of the old bedding has been removed, dust and dirt has been vacuumed out, and the entire chicken coop has been sprayed with Orange Guard.

New bedding has been placed back into the coop, and it is the small window of time--the moment when your chicken coop is as clean as it will ever be before the next needed deep cleaning. Soon enough, the stampede of your flock rushes back in to take over their beloved coop and territory once again. It is always a moment to pause.

DSC_0822 Don't forget about deep cleaning the nesting boxes, too. Keeping your nesting boxes clean, and with clean bedding makes for happy hens. I mention in my new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)), keeping your chicken coop clean and well-maintained goes a long way in raising happy, healthy, and thriving chickens. How often you have to deep-clean your chicken coop is dependent on many variables such as how big is your flock, what kind of chicken coop set-up you have, and how you manage your routine cleaning.

Orange Guard is a great product that is safe for use around your pets, chickens, and chicken coop. You can safely use it on ant trails that can invade your home this time of year. I buy my Orange Guard at Ace Hardware, or search the store locator on Orange Guard. It successfully repels bugs such as fleas, ants, roaches, and mites that might harbor in cracks and hard to reach surfaces. It is a contact killer that suffocates insects by destroying their waxy respiratory lining. It is meant to be sprayed on surfaces until it saturates the surface. Orange Guard is not meant to be applied to animals directly, such as chickens. Do not apply it to water directly either as it can be hazardous to aquatic invertebrates.

When applying Orange Guard, I have my chickens free-ranging in my garden and away from their coop I am cleaning. After applying Orange Guard, I let my chicken coop air out for a minimum of an hour. I usually purchase the large 128 fluid ounce size. The handy spray nozzle that comes with this size doesn't always work very well, and I often have to use Orange Guard in a smaller spray bottle. Ideally, I clean my coop on a warm sunny day, when I can be in the garden and my chickens can happily free-range for at least half a day.

If you see actual bugs on your chickens, such as fleas, lice, and mites there is a safe non-toxic product called Poultry Protector by MannaPro. Poultry Protector is not meant to be sprayed into eyes. Poultry Protector can be found at most feed stores or online. Always follow the recommended instructions on the label. For chickens that have mites or fleas around their eyes, spray Poultry Protector in a clean non-porous container and dab clean Q-tips with Poultry Protector, gently around the eye area--avoiding getting anything in your chickens' eyes.

With the rising popularity of backyard flocks and raising chickens, there are more and more safe and non-toxic environmentally safe products to use around your chicken coop and on your chickens. Always follow the specific directions on product labels to ensure correct application and usage of product.

Please share how you deep-clean your chicken coop. Please comment on non-toxic environmental safe products you use around your chicken coop and on your chickens.

Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies

51DJ+VHcuBL._SY300_ Hot off the press! My new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor, Rob Ludlow of www.BackYardChickens.com, is now available on amazon and in bookstores. You can order the book now from my right side bar below. Please tell all of your chicken-loving friends! Gardening with chickens is a great way to create sustainability in your garden, enhance your soil, eliminate pests and weeds, produce a delicious home-grown protein source, and all the while--be amused by these little "garden warriors." We give you basic animal husbandry elements needed to provide a healthy environment for chickens, what you and your family should expect if you are new to chickens, and how your garden will be enhanced with the addition of chickens. We focus on garden basics, and how to create a beneficial garden where chickens will be happy, healthy, and thrive. We help you understand garden structure, layering, and how to create an ornamental garden as well as an edible garden for you and your chickens.

We provide all different plant lists and purposes which are helpful for chickens free-ranging in your garden. We help you understand what is good to feed your chickens, and what is potentially harmful. We also help you with deterring predators with common sense management, innovative products, and specialty fencing.

We're excited to share our new book with all of you, whether you are new to chickens, new to gardening, or already experienced in both. Stay tuned as we launch the book!

Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend

Starting PVFS Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend in Garden Flats In doing research for my upcoming new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor Rob Ludlow of BackYard Chickens, I stumbled across Peaceful Vally Farm Supply's Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend. What a find!

This organic forage blend is a real treat for your hens. It is available in 1 pound to 1,000 pound quantities. You can grow in it on a large scale in a pasture, in your garden, in a chicken run or zone, or even in 17" garden flats like I did.  Warning, Peaceful Vally Farm Supply recommends not grazing horses on this mixture. Flax can form prussic acid when exposed to frost.

This forage blend is a warm season crop in mild climates, and can be sowed after danger of frost in cooler climates. It needs regular irrigation, and most likely needs to be replanted each year. Keep your seeds moist, and your chickens away from this blend until it is the desired height for your chickens. Surprisingly, seeds germinate immediately, and in less than two weeks time is 3" to 5" high, the perfect height for chickens to graze.

In 2 weeks time, the forage blend is ready to be given to your chickens.

Peaceful Vally Farm Supply has refined this unique forage blend from their own expertise, feedback from backyard poultry enthusiasts, and university research. This blend consists of alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, flax, millet, rye, and rye grass. Feeding your chickens this forage blend ensures their eggs will be rich in Omega-3  fatty acids, an important component of a healthy diet for those eating their eggs.

My happy hens love this forage blend, and your chickens will too

My chickens go crazy for this blend as you can see in the photo. Most chickens devour the blend before the plants can set seed. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply tells me you can try and grow this forage blend in a raised bed with a protective wire over it to keep your chickens from eating it roots, and all. With the protective wire, the grass might have time to replenish itself, if you keep your chickens away from it as regrowth begins.This blend is not only great for chickens, but ducks and turkeys,too.

If you order the Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend from Peaceful Vally Farm Supply for your chickens, be sure and tell them VintageGardenGal recommended it.

My Hens are Eggcited About....

DSC_0847 If you haven't heard already, the San Diego Master Gardener's Seminar is around the corner on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Check out their website, Master Gardener Spring Seminar . There is still time to sign up for classes.

My hens are eggcited, because I am going to be speaking at the 8:30am session, on "Companion Gardening with Backyard Chickens", something very near and dear to my hens, who love to be out with me in the garden. Learn how to have a beautiful, thriving garden, along with a healthy happy flock of chickens. This speaking engagement kicks off the celebration of my new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with co-author Rob Ludlow from www.backyardchickens.com. Stay tuned, as we launch our "eggciting" new book!