Category Archives: Chickens

Our Little Coop’s December Click-a-Day Challenge

I love me a photo challenge.  And I love me some Our Little Coop.  So when I saw they were orchestrating this December Click-a-Day Challenge, I thought: YUP.  Sign me up, people.

December Click-a-Day Photo Challenge from Our Little Coop

It’s super simple: just take a photo a day interpreting that day’s theme, and then post to your favorite social media using the hastag #clickadaychallenge.  I’m going to post all my images for the month here in this blog post, so check back in to see my results!  Join me!

The Day 1 challenge is RED, and here’s my photo:

Day 1 Our Little Coop's December Click-a-Day Challenge

A quick moment before holiday crafting officially destroys my entire house!

Day 2: Gratitude

Day 2 December Click-a-Day Challenge

Day 3: Words

Day 3 December Click a Day Challenge by Our Little Coop

Okay, so it’s only one word…

Day 4: Cold

Day 4 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop

How you really know it’s Christmas at our house.

Day 5: Comfort

Day 5 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop

Embarrassingly spoiled.

Day 6: ‘Tis the Season

Day 6 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop

White poinsettias, neon Chuck Taylors. Very festive.

Day 7: Tradition

Day 7 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop

The Christmas Pickle.

Day 8: Looking Up

Day 8 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop

Our newly-adopted puppy, Phoebe, as shown-off by our nephew. So much cute in such a little photo.

Day 9: Light

Day 9 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

Prepare yourselves for endless puppy pics.  I apologize for nothing.

Day 10: Black and White

Day 10 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

Nixie needs some attention. I just love how she always looks like mischief is a-brewing. Saucy little minx.

Day 11: Below

Day 11 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

How to puppy-proof a tree. And, also, the star is supposed to be crooked. I swear.

Day 12: Wish

Day 12 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

A little Christmas pixie dust.

Day 13: Reflect

Day 13 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

Bobbin’ for worms.

Day 15: Through the Window

December Click-A-Day Challenge Day 15 from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

Or…through the screen door. Since it is 82 degrees out today.

Day 18: Close Up

Day 18 December Click-a-Day Challenge from Our Little Coop via Farmhouse38

Thanks for the fun, Our Little Coop!

Unquantifiable Losses

I hate to make a Monday even more of a downer, but this is a sad post, folks.  So if you can’t stomach it, I totally understand.  Here’s your out.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I must let you know that we’ve suffered two major losses recently.

First, and foremost, is my sweetest yellow dog, Chance.  At the ripe old age of 13, he passed away from cancer.  You would have hardly known he was sick right up until the very, very end.  It has actually been a couple of months now that he’s been gone…I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about it.  This dog…I have no words to express what this dog meant to me; long before the Texan entered our lives, it was just he and I.  He was my constant companion through good times and bad, and I think my heart will never not be broken.

The Best Dog in the World.

Rest in peace, my sweetest boy. I miss you every single day.

More recently, we also lost Millie-bird (a few days ago, in fact).  She succumbed to an ailment that the vet could only describe as ‘reproductive issues’ (incidentally, this was not egg-binding, or any of the usual suspects; it was on-going and had the vet completely perplexed).  I didn’t think I was going to be that person who rushed a sick chicken to the vet…but, as it turns out, I am.  And apparently, I am also that person who cries bawls over the loss of a chicken.  Millie was my favorite: friendly, cuddly, funny, talkative–I could go on and on but I think I have aired out my crazy enough for one day.

Millie.

Goodbye my pretty, clucky girl.

And while I am doing a bit of tearful remembering, I want to give a spot to someone that you all don’t know.  Hogan has been gone for almost three years now…long before I started this blog.  But, he too, is an enormous hole in my heart.  He was a hysterical, bouncy, slobbery ball of boxer-love; completely one of a kind.

Hogan.

I still miss you, Hogie-bear.

Fresh Eggs Daily: The Book…and Giveaway

Fresh Eggs Daily: Keeping Happy, Healthy Chickens...NaturallyI have long been a fan of Lisa Steele over at Fresh Eggs Daily; a fan of her fun and informative blog, as well as her entire approach to natural chicken keeping.  So I am beyond excited to not only review her new book, but to be able to offer up a signed copy as a giveaway to one lucky winner!

Let me start by saying, I really wish this book had been available when I was first thinking about jumping into chicken-keeping (fortunately, I had Lisa’s blog to turn to!).  Lisa lays out the basics in such a straightforward way; coop size, bedding options, nesting box instructions–the whole nine yards–and then she peppers that nine yards with helpful suggestions about how to integrate herbs into your chickens’ lives.  For instance, I absolutely love and swear by her Lavender Mint Coop Refresh Spray (which can be made with either vinegar or vodka as the base…I’m sure you can guess which base I use).  But beyond this awesome cleaning spray/cocktail, Lisa shares an incredible amount of knowledge on herbs, in general, and the benefits each kind might deliver to your flock.  I am a big fan of using a blend of them not only in the nesting boxes, but all around the coop, and this book offered up an education on just what those herbs really do for my birds (and, frankly, me!).

I also love me a good chicken recipe (not the kind that uses the bird, people–the kind that involves cooking for your spoiled chickens), and Lisa’s got a bunch.  My absolute favorite is her Molt Muffins, and I intend to make them ASAP.  We are still molting.  I’m not sure how there are still any feathers left to lose.

There is just a wealth of chicken information packed into this adorable book, and I am definitely putting it on my go-to read list for anyone thinking of starting a flock.  And I must say, it looks darn cute tucked into my chicken book library.

NOW… for the giveaway!  I am so honored to be part of Lisa’s virtual book tour–every day for the next two weeks, you can enter to win a signed copy at each of the participating blogs (and the giveaways already started yesterday!!).

Visit all the other stops along the Fresh Eggs Daily Blog Tour to read some more great reviews and to enter to win a copy!

Week One

October 14th

Louise’s Country Closet & Natural Chicken Keeping

October 15th

Farmhouse38

October 16th

The Nerdy Farmwife & Lessons Learned from the Flock

October 17th

Colored Egg Homestead & Our Neck Of the Woods

October 18th

Let This Mind Be in You & Sunny Simple Life

Week Two

October 21st

October 22nd
October 23rd
October 24th
October 25th
But as for today, enter by following the link below–the contest is live and will run until midnight this coming Friday.  You’ll be asked to leave a comment on this blogpost to enter (as well as have the opportunity to get extra entries by following on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc).  Let the games begin!!!
Enter here:

Fresh Eggs Daily Giveaway

And don’t forget that Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising happy, healthy chickens…naturally is available for purchase through Amazon and other major retailers.

Chicken Coop Gallery Wall

Chicken Portraits at Farmhouse38Remember these talented knuckleheads and their impressionist chicken portraits?  If not, check out the blog post here.

And remember how, after the new coop was unveiled, I was lamenting the bare wall over the roost bar?

Chicken Grit and Feed Dispensers from Farmhouse38

We can’t have that now, can we?

Well, I am sure for those of you who know me, this comes as no surprise:

Chicken Portrait Gallery at Farmhouse38

It had to be done.

The chickens now have their very own schmancy gallery wall.  The kids’ art prints are all in those fantastic light-weight plastic frames from Ikea (very poop-proof), and they are attached to the wall with heavy-duty velcro for easy removal.

This is complete insanity.  I know.  But it makes me laugh.

Chicken Coop Gallery Wall at Farmhouse38

Gertie shows us her famous profile.

Thanks C1, C2, and C3!  Your chicken artwork is perfection. :-)

Grub and Grit

Food and Grit Dispensers from Farmhouse38

In our on-going effort to streamline the functionality of, as well as beautify our coop, there was a really glaring problem.  Well, two really glaring problems: the food and grit dispensers.

After all the trouble we went to in building this new coop, the food and grit dishes were just not cutting it:

New Coop from Farmhouse38

As you can see, we just had a couple of wall-mounted dishes that hung safely under the nesting box shelf (where they were solidly in a ‘No Poop Zone’).  I look at those dishes way down there and I think, “Meh.”  This set-up was definitely function, no form.  I like a little form thrown into everything, if you haven’t noticed.  :-)

You may also remember that in the old coop, I used a frying pan to feed the girls:

Fry Pan Chicken Feeder at Farmhouse38

This was super cute and worked great until one of my girls decided to get greedy and began to peck at everyone else during feeding time. I figured out that the process went a lot smoother if there was more than one feeding dish. I also decided that I could keep the feed cleaner if I got it up and off the ground; thus the lame-looking wall-mounted situation.

I started daydreaming about bending the handle of the fry pan 90 degrees (so that I could hang it on the wall for them to eat out of), but my cast-iron bending super-hero powers are just not what they used to be.  It was about then that I happened to see a display in a kitchen-supply store where several ladles were hanging all in a nice, tidy row and I thought, “YUP.  There it is.”

Ladle Chicken Feeder from Farmhouse38

Soup’s on.

I began with a craft store-bought wooden plaque (of which I seem to always have a few laying around in order to paint up a sign whenever I feel like it…I’m so normal), which I painted, distressed, and then stained to get a nice dirty-aged vibe.  Then, using my sign-painting technique, I labeled it clearly so that the chickens wouldn’t be confused.  I bought some inexpensive ladles from Ikea, taped off the stainless areas and spray-painted the wooden handles red, just for fun.  I attached them to the plaque with tiny cup hooks, and then finished the whole look with a couple of spray-painted cast iron star washers (of which I also have far too many laying around).  I have four hens, but it looked better to have just the three ladles.  As long as there is more than one ‘dish’ the girls make it work.  I should also note that this feeder works only because I have so few birds…obviously this is not practical (is it ever?) if you have a lot of mouths to feed.

The grit dispenser is a direct knock-off of Fresh Eggs Daily’s cute DIY Wine Bottle Chicken Grit & Oyster Shell Dispenser.  Head on over and check out their DIY (which is so adorable and extra awesome because it uses all re-purposed materials—love that!).

Grit Dispenser from Farmhouse38

This is a lot more fun to look at than the plain, wall-mounted feed dish that was there before. I love when things are cute AND functional.  It’s the little things.

I went and used another of my go-to pre-made craft store plaques (I’m hard up for scrap wood pieces these days!!!), painted to match the ‘Grub’ sign.  I have a handful of these vintagey-looking, adorable Mountain Valley Spring Water bottles sitting around, and because the colors go so well with the coop, I knew I had to use one.  Finally, I attached the bottle and the tuna can catch-basin with a couple of ducting clamps that I had laying around (these things come in handy for a multitude of projects), which work so great for this because they are easy to loosen and tighten just by turning the little screw-doohickie-thinger. Using a self-tapping metal screw, the clamps are just attached directly onto the wood plaque.

Chicken Grit and Feed Dispensers from Farmhouse38

The food and grit both hang safely under the nest box shelf where they aren’t in danger of droppings bombing from above.

Does anyone else think that wall above the roost bar is looking rather bare…?  Yep.  Time for another completely impractical chicken craft project.  Good times!!!

Coop Du Jour 3.0

Chicken Garden and Coop from Farmhouse38The very fate of my marriage rests on the functionality of our newly made-over coop.  The Texan has really put his foot down; this is the last time we are re-doing the darned thing.  The. Last. Time.

Roger that.

The original coop design was….okay.  It just wasn’t great (even after we gave it several cute cosmetic overhauls).

The Original Chicken Coop from Farmhouse38

The made-over original coop.

It really was more of a run than it was a coop, and a rather useless run, at that.  Inside, there was a tiny curtain-enclosed roost box that also doubled as a nesting box.  It was always a mess, and also, I fear, not really protective enough in the winter.  In fact, last winter, we actually moved the coop and temporarily enclosed the whole thing with insulation and tarps to keep everyone warm and dry, which worked great, but gave the yard a rather shanty-like vibe.  Which made me nuts.

The Old, Worthless Coop from Farmhouse38

It still makes me twitchy to look at. Make it go away!!!

We finally decided that tweaking it one more time was just adding insult to injury.  With a year and a half of chicken-keeping under our belts, we went back to the proverbial drawing board.  I knew we could do better.

Additionally, my once gorgeous ‘secret garden’ that originally looked like this:

The Old Secret Garden at Farmhouse38

Was now looking more like this:

Do Not Repin this Awful Image from Farmhouse38

The junk scattered in the background is definitely because of the chickens. Definitely.

So, I knew that it was time to make this garden a ‘chicken garden’.  Which meant planting only chicken-friendly and chicken-proof plants.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The driving force behind the design of the new henhouse was insulation, insulation, insulation.  And a legit peaked, shingled roof (as opposed to the old slanted corrugated plastic one) so that this adorable weathervane had somewhere to sit.

New Chicken Coop from Farmhouse38

This sucker is sturdy: studded walls, filled with insulation sandwiched between an interior and exterior layer of plywood.  The entire coop and run sits on a bed of cement pavers.

This summer, with temperatures hovering up over 100 degrees, the inside of the henhouse stays pretty darned nice.  Fingers crossed, the same will hold true this winter.

I wanted every single element of the coop interior to be removable so that I could easily clean things–because cleaning was a real bear in the last set-up.  The roost bar, shelves, perch, and nesting boxes all come out easily.  Additionally, the shelves, nesting boxes, and floors are all lined with sections of vinyl flooring and oil cloth so that they slip easily out for quick cleaning.

New Coop from Farmhouse38

Gertie’s telling me about the egg she just laid (lefthand nesting box), while broody Clementine grumbles at both of us from the righthand nesting box.

I must sing the praises of this set-up.  With the shelf under the roost bar to catch all their nighttime droppings, this house stays SO CLEAN.  I simply take out the removable oil-cloth lining and hose it off every morning.

Interior of New Chicken Coop from Farmhouse38

A shelf holds important supplies up out of chicken-reach, and hooks allow for bundles of fresh herbs to be hung (which ward off pests and deodorize the joint naturally). This is a good shot of the oil-cloth lined ceiling. A note about oil-cloth–it gives off a lot of fumes when it is new; I cut these pieces and aired them out outside for several weeks before installing in the coop.

The Abominable Brood-Monster of Farmhouse38

The Abominable Brood-Monster….oh, broody girl, you really must get out and do something with your life!  Obviously, the new coop suits her just fine.

Chicken Run with Living Roof from Farmhouse38

The new run has a living roof and a offers a little bit of shady outdoor space for them during the rare times when they must be locked up.

Green Roofed Chicken Run from Farmhouse38

The roof is built on a gentle slant, and consists of a ‘planter box’ frame built of sealed 1×8′s, with corrugated plastic roofing (salvaged from the roof of the old run) as the bottom of the box. Moisture and weed barrier layers affixed to the inside of the ‘box’ assure that the soil will stay put, and that any water will funnel off the end of the roof and not into the run.

Green Roofed Chicken Run at Farmhouse38

Living Roofed Chicken Run from Farmhouse38

I absolutely heart the green roof.

Coop Weathervane from Farmhouse38

Some might say I did this remodel just for this adorable weathervane.

The New Coop at Farmhouse38

The door’s vents are covered in hardware cloth for safety, and cut into star shapes for cuteness.  Certainly gives it a little bit of an outhouse-y vibe, but I think that’s hilarious, personally.  The little lantern has a timer-operated candle that comes on every night at dusk.

The New Coop at Farmhouse38

Millie has a knack for perfectly-timed photo-bombs.

Armoire Garden Storage Closet from Farmhouse38

To the right of the hen outhouse is an armoire that I rescued from the curb and fitted with doors. This serves us well as a chicken supply cabinet.

Rusty Star Washer Stepping Stones at Farmhouse38

Some rusty star washers serve as stepping stones to the supply cabinet.

The chicken garden surrounding the coop has been a bit of give and take.  It is a finely-tuned balance; equal parts protective plants and shrubs, pest-deterring herbs and flowers, edibles for the chickens, and a few little bits of annual color (which are hard to have because the chickens usually qualify these as ‘edibles for the chickens’).

Scrap Wood Garden Pathway from Farmhouse38

The annual-lined pathway leading to the chicken garden is ‘paved’ with bits and pieces of wood salvaged from the old coop and our recently renovated old deck. Had to put all that scrap wood to good use somehow!

Scrapwood Garden Pathway from Farmhouse38

The bits of wood are adhered down with concrete and then backfilled with soil (as my intention is to try to grow some sort of creeping green, like thyme between them). Most of the wood bits are painted and sealed, but I did leave many completely naked so that they would weather. Obviously, if you want this sort of thing to last as long as possible, you need to seal every surface.  I regret nothing!!!!

Garden Gate Door from Farmhouse38

The entrance to the chicken garden is still this lovely old door (which was the original front door to the house), though I have gone and painted it a chippy green. I’ve had it pointed out that the sign phrase, which I intended to mean something like ‘Little Chicken Garden’, really doesn’t hold up in French.  It should probably read ‘Potager des Poulets’, as the term ‘de poulet’ refers to chicken as an ingredient–as in chicken soup, chicken sandwich, or chicken McNuggets.  I was going to change it, but upon reflection, I kind of found it funny to leave it this way…anyway, you can see a tutorial on how to make the sign, improper French or not, here.

The Frog Fountain at Farmhouse38

Just inside the gate is the frog fountain which is pretty much my favorite thing ever. It adds a fantastic amount of lovely water background music. I’ve obsessed over having this fountain since the first time I saw it in the Ballard Designs catalog.

Chicken on a Mission at Farmhouse38

This photo cracks me up. Eloise is on a mission. Around the backside of that fountain is a little protective, shady area where I actually have an automatic waterer set up for the girls. This is where she is headed. So far, the girls have wanted NOTHING to do with swapping spit with that frog.

The Chicken Garden at Farmhouse38

The main chicken garden is full of rose bushes, which offer great predator-protection and shade. A couple of wine barrels overflow with mints and basils and bright annuals.  I have also planted a small swatch of lawn for the girls to snack on.

I make a point to plant lavender, rosemary, mint, and basil wherever I can possibly find room for them in this garden.  The chickens are not interested in eating any of these plants, so they remain lovely, and they really help to deodorize the area and ward off flies and other creepy-crawlies.  Basil, especially, seems to send the flies packing.

The Chicken Garden at Farmhouse38

The Chicken Garden at Farmhouse38

The girls wonder why I have a random yellow chair in their garden. Sometimes I wonder this, too.  It’s there because I like it and it offers a fabulous place to sit for a spell and get your ankles pecked.

The Chicken Dirt Bath at Farmhouse38

At the far end of the garden is a designated dirt bathing spot (even though they have about twenty other self-designated spots throughout the property).

Chicken Garden Bench at Farmhouse38

A bench (and a mirror!) under a vine-covered arch offers yet another tranquil spot to sit and be pecked at.

Zinnias in a Rustic Caddy at Farmhouse38

This is a cute, colorful little moment I set up for the photo shoot….I give it a day.

Chicken Busywork in the Farmhouse38 Chicken Garden

Chicken busywork.

Despite this lovely little chicken-oriented garden, I still let my girls free range in the rest of our small yard for the majority of the time.  I like to allow them a ‘soft-supervised’ free range, which is where I am home and keeping a fairly close eye on them, but not stalking them throughout the yard.  When I have to leave for short periods (ie, running errands or something of the sort) I lock them in the chicken garden, which keeps them contained and fairly reliably safe from aerial predators.  There are times when we leave and know we won’t be coming back until after chicken-curfew, and these are the moments when they must be on lockdown in the coop and run.  It all seems to be working pretty well for us, so (knock on wood), I don’t see a Coop 4.0 happening anytime in the near future.

Do you hear that??  Somewhere a displaced Texan is sighing in sweet, sweet relief.

Farmhouse38 Fly Control

As seen in the June/July issue of From Scratch magazine:

Pretty DIY Fly Strips from Farmhouse38

Ah, chickens….so much joy in such small, fluffy, feathered packages.  So many eggs, so many antics, so many….flies.  I am well aware that our tiny suburban homestead fly population pales in comparison to that of a real farm, but our tight proximity to our non-chicken-keeping neighbors makes it hugely important to keep them under reasonable control.  And my general, insatiable (possibly pathological) quest for tidiness also dictates that I wage a merciless war on these buzzing, winged, soulless demons.  With one caveat: I want to wage a merciless responsible war….no chemicals, please.

There is a reason that the over-the-counter tacky (in more ways than one) fly strips are the most commonly used method of fly control; they are totally effective.  They also aren’t completely awful with their ingredients.  But, after watching in horror as one of my chickens fluttered too close to a fly strip and then proceeded to wrap herself, mummy-style, in it….I am not a fan.  Besides, they look so terrible hanging around the garden and house.  I don’t care how efficient they are; they ugly.

So it was with embarrassing enthusiasm that I decided to do some good old-fashioned internet research on what sorts of homemade fly strip recipes people were tossing around out there.  I figured there just had to be a way to build a better mousetrap–er, flytrap….you get what I mean.

The DIY fly paper recipes I came across all called for pretty basic ingredients: strips of paper dipped in a sticky mixture of water and either honey, sugar, corn syrup, molasses or any combination of the four.  I tested and re-tested infinite versions of these things, and you know what?  Disappointingly, I just did not come out with any decent results.  These strips were brilliant at attracting flies, but let me tell you how frustrating it is to watch a big fat bug land on your painstakingly-made sugar-paper, have it leisurely mosey around for a lovely snack, and then fly happily off into the sunset.  It is way beyond frustrating.

I knew there simply had to be a better way, and after going back to the drawing board, I stumbled across an organic over-the-counter product called Tanglefoot.

Tree Tanglefoot

Do you hear angels singing? I hear angels singing.

Bingo.  Listed by the OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) for use in organic gardening, it is an all-natural super-sticky paste made of gum resins, vegetable oil, and wax.  Can I make it at home?  No.  But I can buy it on Amazon, so that’s close enough, right?  Used on homemade fly strips, it works like a darned charm.

Aesthetically, I decided to get a little more creative with this new flypaper attempt.  Instead of paper, I used two pieces of yellow duct tape (sticky sides pressed together) to form strips.  There are three reasons for this choice: the first is that Tanglefoot requires application to a non-porous surface for best results, the second is that I have read several accounts that flying insects are attracted to the color yellow—I’m not sure if this is a scientific fact, but I happen to like the color yellow, so I am willing to take that chance.  (See my notes on other colors below) Secondly, duct tape is inherently durable and weatherproof, and therefore, reusable.

Once I had assembled several strips of double duct-tape, I punched holes in either end of the strips in order to attach both a wire hanger to the top, and a weight to the bottom.

Safe, DIY Fly Strips from Farmhouse38

I decided to cut the ends into points. I don’t know why. This has nothing to do with their fly-trapping success.

For the weights, I decided to use some re-purposed chandelier crystals, because I’m fancy like that.

Fancy Fly Paper Strips from Farmhouse38

If you don’t have any chandelier crystals (or don’t want to be so fancy) just a simple bit of wire works as a hanger, and something slightly heavy to attach to the bottom will help to keep it from fluttering too much in the breeze (try a small ‘chip clip’ or alligator clip).

At this point, I went ahead and hung them, put on a pair of gloves (this stuff is sticky), and painted the Tanglefoot liberally to each side of the duct tape.

Applying Tanglefoot to Fly Strips from Farmhouse38

Because honey had proven to be such good bait, I also went and dabbed some small spots of it along each side to lure those buggers in.  The proof was in the pudding—within one day, those things were ripe with victims.

Safe DIY Fly Strips from Farmhouse38

Muhahahahaha!  The results after just ONE day.

After this article went to print in From Scratch, I got some feedback about my fly strip color choice.  There are lots of conflicting opinions out there about what color attracts flies best; red, blue, and yellow seem to be the most common color choices (although the latest OTC strips from Rescue are a graphic pattern of white, bright green, yellow, and turquoise).  I decided that I wanted to put this concept to a little bit of a test, so I went ahead and made three versions of my fly strips–one in each color.  I hung them relatively close together under the grapefruit tree as I did my original yellow ones, and I also hung up one of the graphic Rescue brand ones, slightly further away (so that the honey attractant on mine wouldn’t skew the results of the Rescue one), just for comparison.

Farmhouse38 Fly Strips

Let the color wars begin!

Farmhouse38 Fly Strips

Here’s a shot that shows the Rescue strip off to the right of the rest.

The results were….interesting.  First of all, we seem to have a lot fewer flies, currently.  I think this is largely due to it being a couple of months further into the season, as well as possibly a result of some of the fly deterring methods we’ve implemented throughout this seek and destroy mission.  So, after one day, the results are as follows:

Farmhouse38 Fly Strips

The yellow strip, front and back, had a total of about a dozen flies (not including a couple of other little unfortunate buggies).

Farmhouse38 Fly Strips

The blue strip had about a half dozen flies (also not including one or two non-fly insects and a bit of dirt).

Farmhouse38 Fly Strips

Ah, the red strip….it got nothing. Maybe one or two little tiny bugs of some variety–but zero flies.

Farmhouse38 Fly Strip Testing

The Rescue brand fly strip? Two small flies and that’s about it.

Obviously, the best way to thoroughly test these involves a lot more time and several varied testing scenarios–so I will continue to investigate and post my findings later.  For now, it kind of seems like a close call between yellow and blue (at least as far as the flies in my yard go).  I’d be curious to hear what has worked for others.

Suffice it to say, I’ve had pretty decent success with these fly strips.  I like them better than the store bought, not only for the aesthetics, but for the fact that I can make them a bit shorter in length (or longer, if I really wanted to), which means I can keep them out of the reach of fluttering chickens (and if a bird does happen to get too close, there isn’t so much sticky surface area for her to get completely wrapped up in).

In addition to the fly strips, I also believe in tucking a lot of insect-repelling plants into my garden.  Lavender, mint, basil, marigolds, amongst others, really seem to do the trick.  I may have gone overboard with the basil and marigolds….I like them a little bit more than is necessary.

Natural Fly Control from Farmhouse38

The chicken garden is chock-full of anti-fly plants. It doesn’t hurt that my hens seem wholly uninterested in messing with these plants, as well.

To be totally honest, the moment when I realized there was a noticeable decrease in flies was when the bulk of these plants went in.

Finally, we have come to the poop portion of the proceedings.  It’s pretty logical that poop=flies.  The more you can keep up with cleaning the poop, the fewer flies you’re gonna have.  I pick up both dog poop and chicken poop daily, and put them in designated poop bins (some of the chicken poop goes into compost bins, some goes in its own container to give away to composting neighbors and friends).

Natural Fly Control Methods from Farmhouse38

Labeled, in case there is any confusion.

In addition to keeping things clean, I do dust occasionally with diatomaceous earth, especially in and around the coop.  Another thing I like to do (it’s a bit gross, sorry–at least I didn’t insert a photo), is to leave a bit of dog poop in the pooper-scooper (in an out-of-the-way place), and sprinkle it liberally with DE as a little fly lure.  They won’t die immediately, but they certainly will get the DE on them when they land there, and it will eventually do its glorious dirty work.

All in all, we seem to be managing just fine, but then again, we’ve only got just the four hens, and we’ve got some pretty un-impressively-sized flies in our little suburban backyard.  I’m sure I have no clue what a real fly problem is….I have heard some horror stories, and while I find ours annoying, at least they don’t bite and don’t carry off small children.  Gotta count my blessings.

Buff Up on Your Farmhouse Style- A Giveaway!

I am so, so thrilled about this giveaway, people!  I just get really excited when I stumble across a truly talented artist, and Katja over at Shift Ctrl Art is that in spades.  And it isn’t just art over there, either; she is an incredible designer, a crafty crafter, and an impressively all-around creative soul.  On top of being a completely entertaining blogger.  I just fell in love with her gorgeous pastel animal portraits, and decided to see if she might be interested in doing one (of course!) of a chicken.  I may or may not know the model.

So here is the incredible result:

Chicken portrait by Shift Ctrl Art

Buff Orpington Print from Shift Ctrl Art

We are giving away an 8×10 framed, matted, and signed fine-art print of this adorable creation to one very lucky winner.  The contest begins today, June 13th, and ends Monday, June 17th, at midnight, and you can enter through the following link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Impressionist Art Lesson from the Chickens

Impressionism Chicken Art from Farmhouse38I don’t do a lot of kid stuff on this blog, because, well, we don’t have any of the two-legged, non-feathered variety.  But from time to time, my ‘loaner kids’ come over for a visit (good friends of the family–the two girls were our wedding flower girls!) The chickens were thrilled to have three of their favorite kids (we refer to them as C2, C3, and C1, respectively) over the other day for an ‘art lesson’ on Impressionism.  (There are only a handful of subjects that I possibly know enough about to try to ‘teach’ anyone: decorative wreathes, cocktails, and Impressionist painters….for this ‘lesson’ it was a close call between subjects 2 and 3.  No one wants to learn about wreathes.)

We began with some print-outs of a few well-known Vincents and Claudes, so the kids could get a feeling for how these painters concentrated less on specific form, and more on color and light.  I also wanted them to notice the deliberate brushstrokes, and the layering of color upon color.  We were going to paint the chickens in this manner, but we weren’t going to paint what our brains told us a chicken looked like; we were going to paint based on the colors we were seeing.  To help with this a bit, I selected photos of each of our birds and applied a painting filter effect to them in Photoshop, then printed them out…they looked something like this:

Photoshopped Painting of Millie from Farmhouse38

This may seem a bit like ‘cheating’, but I wanted the kids to see the chicken more as bits of color and light, rather than just a chicken.

So each kid picked a chicken, and we began.  Because the focus of this project was the bird, I had them ignore the backgrounds in the photos and simply fill their entire canvas with simple, bold color.

Impressionist Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

We filled the entire canvas, and then let them dry while we had a juice break.  And yes, those are trash bag painting smocks.

Next, the kids drew the outline of the chicken in white, and filled it in so that we could layer other colors nicely over the top.  (This is mostly due to the type of paint we were working with; non-toxic kid paints tend to be very transparent and don’t work as well for layering as the oil paints of the Impressionists.)

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

The face of concentration.

Impressionist Chicken Paintings for Kids from Farmhouse38

Impressionism Lesson for Kids from Farmhouse38

A darned fine Gertie silhouette.

We then let that layer dry thoroughly (yay for the quick-drying powers of acrylic paint!).

Accidental Face-Painting from Farmhouse38

So while we waited….this happened!

Accidental Face-Painting from Farmhouse38

Epic photo-bombing.

Next, it was time to start layering on some color, Impressionist-style:

Impressionist Painting for Kids from Farmhouse38

C1′s face paint is still cracking me up.

Impressionist Chicken Painting for Kids from Farmhouse38

Another comprehensive animal photo-bombing.

Impressionist Painting with Kids from Farmhouse38

I urged the kids to paint the colors that they were seeing.  For instance, instead of falling into the trap of thinking a chicken’s comb is red, look closer: it’s actually rather pink.

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

C2 couldn’t help but embellish the background.

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

C1 really got into the ‘dappling’ brushstrokes. Very Monet!

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

Yeah, Southpaw!

We layered and layered the different colors until we got some pretty good results!

Impressionist Chicken Paintings for Kids from Farmhouse38

Gertie has never looked better!

Impressionist Chicken Paintings for Kids from Farmhouse38

‘Millie and Eloise in the Garden’, acrylic on canvas, by C1

I somehow didn’t get a close-up of C2′s finished Clementine portrait (she was still working till the bitter end!)….but please enjoy the final group shots:

Impressionist-Inspired Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

Impressionist-Inspired Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

Impressionist-Inspired Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

Not sure who wins best face….but we got some pretty awesome paintings here, if I do say so myself!!!

Scrap Wood Garden Edging

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

We have a very long driveway.  Along this driveway runs a very long planter bed.

This is what it looked like when we bought the house:

Before Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

So originally, we built a raised bed of pressure-treated wood to hold in all the dirt.  For the last few years, it’s looked like this:

Before Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Nevermind the squirrel-hunting hijinks happening here (and also nevermind the pre-renovation ramshackle garage).

When we acquired the chickens, there was a whole lot of this going on in those beds:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

And this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging

It looks bad, I know. This looks like roadkill. But this is a seriously contented bird lolling in the warm dirt.

And this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38And so, most days, our driveway winds up looking like this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

And this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Because of some very serious neat-freak issues, this just wasn’t working for me.  The obvious solution is to fill the planters with so much vegetation that there is no free dirt for the ladies to get into….but this is a huge bed to fill, and, though I am working on it, I needed a quicker solution (and also, I happen to get a kick out of watching their dirt bath antics).

Enter our ever-expanding piles of scrap wood:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

With so many projects going on all the time, we are constantly collecting remnant wood….in fact, most moments, we are completely overrun with scrap because I refuse to throw it away.  So when we can come up with a use for it, especially a cute use for it….I get unnecessarily excited.

The scrap that I used for this started in all shapes and sizes: slabs of plywood, bits of 2×4, planks ripped off the side of the old garage, cedar fencing, and more.  You may remember this photo from a previous post about our scrap pile.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38 I selected my victims and cut the wood into completely random bits, all roughly around a foot or so tall (but sometimes as short as 6 inches tall, just to get a really good gap-toothed vibe), varying widths.  There was really no rhyme or reason, at all.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Then I gathered up all my miscellaneous cans of leftover house paint (my theory was that these were all colors I had used throughout the house and garden and so, therefore, they’d coordinate.  Right?  Right.), and painted them randomly and sloppily.  A lot of these pieces already had old paint on them–I slapped new paint on a few of them, but mostly left the old weathered pieces alone.  Also, I left quite a few pieces completely unfinished.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

I wanted the paint finish to be patchy on these, because I want them to weather a bit naturally–I like the look of old, chippy weathered wood.  Obviously, if you want these to last a good long time, you’d better seal them up really well and not follow my lead.  But I want mine to weather.  I may seal them once they’ve aged a bit.  We’ll see.  I get distracted pretty easily.

After the bits and pieces dried, we screwed them in, in random order to the inside edge of the pressure-treated wood curb.  Obviously, not everyone has such a curb–I share my recipe for a stand-alone version down below.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

The real point of this edging, for me anyhow, was to keep the chicken dirt bath spray somewhat contained.  Remarkably, it’s totally working!

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Scrap Wood Garden Edging

The chickens don’t seem the least bit fazed by it.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse 38

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

The varying heights of the edging allows for some very lazy bug picking maneuvers.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Squirrel hunting is a much tidier affair now that the edging is in place. Chance approves (actually, it’s quite obvious in this photo how much he could actually care less).

We are currently in the process of turning our back garden into a ‘Chicken Garden’; what was once my enchanting, flower-filled oasis has literally gone to the birds.  As part of this do-over, I want to use this scrap edging back there, as well.  The only problem is, there’s no wood curb to attach it to….we needed to modify it so that it could be free-standing.

From Home Depot, I grabbed some cheap garden-variety garden edging that comes in two foot strips that click together on the ends.  I also got me some metal garden stakes.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

For my purposes, the metal stakes needed a couple of holes drilled into each of them (though I am sure there are stakes that come like this, I just haven’t found them yet).  This is a little time consuming, but easy enough with a metal drill bit.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Now lay out your wood pieces and attach the plastic edging to their backsides with an industrial stapler.  Let the pointy side of the plastic edging stick out beyond the bottoms of the wood pieces–this goes into the ground and helps stabilize the whole thing.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Now screw in your stakes, one on each end of the two-foot length of edging.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38Finally, pick your spot, and pound that sucker into the ground.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Unfortunately, the Chicken Garden is a work in progress….you’ll see the final results of this edging project when I do the reveal post on that.  Soon!  Very sooooon.  Bear with me.

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