Posts tagged Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies
New Pocket Guide to Poultry Breeds
“Photography by © Adam Mastoon, from   Poultry Breeds  , © by Carol Ekarius, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”   

“Photography by © Adam Mastoon, from Poultry Breeds, © by Carol Ekarius, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”

 

 

This is a great time to scour your seed catalogs and make your "seed wish list" for this spring and summer. If you raise chickens, like I do, this is also a great time to check out online hatcheries for specialty breed day-old baby chick selections. Poultry Breeds by Carol Ekarius is a great new pocket size book that gives you a lot of information at your finger tips. Ekarius describes 104 essential poultry breeds and their attributes, along with beautiful photos.

As I mention in my book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies (Wiley 2013)chicken breeds are as diverse as dog breeds, so do your research on what types of chicken breeds will work best for your and your family's lifestyle, location, and specific desire for raising chickens.

I have two remaining hens, Copper Penny and Amelia, from my original flock of ten chicks in 2012. Some of my flock I gave away to good homes, and some passed on with shorter life spans. Copper Penny and Amelia have ended their egg drought recently, having molted and stopped laying for about 8 weeks. With increasing day lengths and turning 5 years old this May, it is really amazing. I won't get eggs everyday at this age, but their eggs are golden. My seasoned hens will help with my new pullets (young hens) this spring, showing them the ropes around the chicken coop and garden.

I am currently looking at some of the more uncommon poultry breeds, supporting the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. Lifestyle expert, P. Allen Smith, at his Moss Mountain Farm in Arkansas, is a great advocate and enthusiast for heritage poultry conservancy. Three great online hatcheries I recommend to order a variety of day-old baby chicks are: My Pet Chicken,  McMurray Hatcheryand Cackle Hatchery. Hurry, as I see many breed selections are sold out for the time being or have limited availability already this spring.

Remember, "Love Thy Chickens, and Keep on Clucking!"

 

 
Composting with Grape Pomace

DSC_0971 I'm a firm believer in backyard composting. I love the idea of recycling what you have from your own garden, property, and kitchen scrapes into your own personal compost recipe. It is especially important to compost when you have backyard chickens. In fact, I really delve into this subject of backyard composting and backyard chickens in my book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies. See also my previous post, How To Compost In Your Backyard.

I call backyard composting a personal compost recipe of your life, because it is the layering of greens and browns, essentially by-products of your cooking, gardening, and property which create this custom compost mixture. My husband, John, and I have a small backyard vineyard. We use the grape pomace in our compost each fall. Grape pomace is the skins, seeds, and stems of the vineyard grapes after the wine making process. Grapes are a form of green or the fire that heats up the compost mixture, where the browns such as our chicken bedding, or rice hulls is considered the browns and fuel for the compost. Grape pomace heats up our compost to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, an incredible temperature for a backyard compost mixture. Composting with our grape pomace creates a rich organic material called humus, which will go back into our garden soil, and flowerbeds.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit Annie's Annuals and Perennials with my fellow garden bloggers attending the three day San Francisco Fling. One of the highlights of this three day adventure was Richmond east bay nursery, Annie's Annuals and Perennials. If you are ever in the Bay Area, make a visit to Annie's Annuals. A truly incredible nursery. Plants can be purchased online and shipped, too. While visiting Annie's Annuals, I noticed a sign and display, that grape pomace is one of her favorite compost materials.

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This was the middle of summer, and not Halloween, as this sassy and colorful mannequin greeted you at the nursery entrance. I can only imagine how she is costumed this week, two days before Halloween!

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Annie and I know a good thing, composted grape pomace. Try contacting your local vineyards in the fall, for possible sources of grape pomace. It is a great way to enjoy the colorful autumn season, maybe have a quick wine tasting, and purchase wonderful grape pomace for your backyard composting.

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!

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!