By Casondra Brewster
So urban/micro-farming life is good. It’s good to feel like my own property (which I know my grandparents and parents cannot believe we paid so much for….) can help sustain my family to a degree. The best part? I’m learning new stuff all the time.
My sister came to visit when The Girls were just a little more than six weeks old. Sis has been keeping chickens for a few years now and was hugely helpful in teaching me new things to pay attention to for my future egg-layers. It’s nice to have a bit of a hands-on mentor when it comes to raising poultry. My sister’s insight into what we were doing here at Thrasher Studios was incredible. Thanks, sis!
In these latest four weeks of backyard chicken keeping, I learned The Girls were going to need a dust bath sooner than I thought. Sis helped me find a container (we ended up getting a corner litter box designed for rabbits to use as a dust bath for the time being), and the right kind of sand, as well as how to mix in some wood ash and food-grade DE (Diatomaceous Earth).
The girls took to it fairly quickly.
I also learned that I needed a hanging water keeper sooner than I thought. They grow so much in the second four weeks, it’s incredible.
So, we got that as well.
The girls were still kind of struggling to go up into the dormer at the end of the day, so I could close up the coop tight, so they were safe overnight. Sis taught me about this wonderful thing she calls, “Chicken Crack.” It’s dried mealworms and The Girls go nuts for it. I’ve put it in an old Costco-size parmesan cheese dispenser and I shake it and they come running. I shook the container when I wanted them to go up to bed, and then after a few nights, they did it on their own. The girls put themselves to bed now. In fact, last night, they were all up in the dormer and roosting before the sun completely went down. I love not having to use the flashlight to lock up the coop.
I also learned about the beauty of lawn clippings. Because our coop ended up kind of heavy since we used reclaimed materials, we’re only moving it once a week. Not a problem since I can put down lawn clippings and it saves on the wear and tear on where they currently are. Also, the grass is so lush where the coop used to be! It’s amazing.
Lastly, we learned that we’re going to need more space for the girls. They seem to be out of the danger zone for dying off of the many things young chicks do and we still have all eight of them. Also, I talked to the buyer at our farm supply store where we got them and…she is confident ALL of them are female given the way they purchase their chicks.
So, we’re making plans to have an outer “yard” for them. Not sure yet what that’s going to look like because Hubby and I have been too busy creating a duck pen.
You heard that right. A duck pen.
We’re rescuing two Pekin ducks. They arrive Thursday. Soon this little homestead will be producing not only chicken eggs, but also, duck eggs. Here’s what the duck pen looks like.
We still need the kiddie pool (coming with the ducks) and bird netting for the top to keep the raptors (owls, Bald eagles, & red-tailed hawk) out of the area we’re calling “Duck Dynasty.”
I’ll blog soon on the process of creating that pen, too.
In the meantime, if you know what I need to know for the next four weeks of backyard chicken (and duck!) keeping, please let me know in the comments below.