Once again it seems that the busyness of autumn has kept me from updating this blog! Pardons, I beg a thousand pardons!! In October we FINALLY found the weather and the time to do the annual fall cleaning of the chicken coop, after the garden was put to rest, leaves raked and shredded, wood chopped and stacked, compost dug into flower beds, and garlic planted. What a lot of work, but well worth it. Hopefully next year we will have a better growing season. Anyhow, cleaning the coop is a major endeavor which takes all of one day and part of another. First I gather the materials: scrub brushes, whisk broom, dust masks, buckets of hot hot vinegar water, shovels, spray Neem and Poultry Protector and probably more that I fail to mention.
First we remove all the old bedding and use it for mulch around the roses, and fruit trees. Next we use the utility vacuum to suck up all the cobwebs. Then I scrub the inside of the coop from top to bottom with hot vinegar water, followed by a wipe down with my own homemade orange vanilla spray cleaner. After that I spray every surface with Poultry Protector, and the floor and cracks of the roosting/nest box area with Neem to prevent mites and other creepy crawlies. I shake a little bit of diatomaceous earth on the bare ground of the runs, and pile lots of fresh pine bedding over the ground. Finally I put new bedding in the nest boxes and sprinkle in some lavender and calendula petals. The girls have been hanging out in the paddock during all this procedure. Before we let them back in I sprinkle some treats over the new bedding and they are only too happy to spread it around in their search for treats.
November brought colder weather, so the next task was to winterize the coop. My husband and son worked on this while I got to hang out with my lovely youngest granddaughter. After years of stapling plastic over hardware cloth to keep out the nasty wind here on Windy Hill, we finally improved things. We now have plastic covered inserts which fit neatly in the framework of the coop/run. We mount a small flat panel heater in the roosting area which will only be used when the temperature dips down into single digits. I would NEVER NEVER use a heat lamp because of the danger of fire. I do not have any photos just now of the winterized coop but I am sure you will see some once the snow flies in January/February.
Our new puppy is growing. She is such a sweetie! We have taken a few day trips with both dogs and they are loving traveling with us. So many new people to greet! They are real ambassadors of love.
In other news, my dear little Nellie is molting. She was on her way to being lead hen, but something happened and the other girls have been chasing her around. She should not be molting at seven months, but I believe the stress of falling to the bottom of the pecking order put her into an early molt. Please keep her in your thoughts as molting is in itself very stressful and can last up to 12 weeks. Poor Nellie is 4-5 weeks into her molt, and winter is a coming!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Let’s see, am I ready?? Of course one is NEVER totally ready, but I have made a good start. Husbie and I have cleaned the house, I have baked two pans of cinnamon rolls, about three dozen rolls, three pies, an apple crisp, and made a cheese ball. As I write, a turkey breast is roasting in the oven while the main bird will go in tomorrow. My dear daughters-in-law are bringing stuffing, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole. All that’s left is to put up tables, decorate them and lay out my Mom’s china and silverware. But Thanksgiving is so much more than stuffing the turkey or one’s face. This year, I feel the presence of dear loved ones who are with me in spirit. I can almost feel my Mom standing next to me as I make her recipes for chocolate pie and stir the gravy. Our dear departed Maggie nuzzles my hand as I run it over Sadie’s fur. When I go out to the coop I pause for a moment next to Miss Henrietta’s grave and whisper a greeting to her.
My life is rich with blessings. Sometimes I feel I do not deserve so much loving companionship from the people and animals who have enriched my life. As we rush into the Christmas season once the Thanksgiving dishes are washed and put away, it is my hope that I take the time to pause and reflect on what I already have. I hope you do too!
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