Normal Saturday Chores
I drive the feed cart around the field as I do my normal Saturday chores. The phone rings, so I park in the shade and talk. Someone is asking what things they should consider in caring for their birds. I rattle off my “Weekend List”.
Once a week, each weekend, I check everything on this list – granted most of these things are also checked daily, but in a quick glance sort of way. Even as I write this, I remember the waterer in the brooder room that was low this morning. I’ll be back in a minute – I’m going to go check it before I forget.
I’m back. The birds still had water, and while there, I took the time to fix the waterer.
My Weekend Chicken Chore List
On weekends, I make intentional checks of each coop. That is, I consciously look at the coop with an eye toward “What could be wrong here? And what could be improved?”
Here’s a list of what I check:
1. Is there wasted feed? Any feed left in the bottom of the feeder? If so, why? If there is, pour some kefir or apple cider vinegar (ACV) on it, mix it into a paste and see if the birds will eat that. Do I need to adjust the height of the feeder to prevent wasted feed? Is the feeder clean (no poop or yuck on it)?
2. Is the waterer at the right height? Is it clean? Since I use a lot of the Bell-matic waterers, I carry a brush and give them a quick scrub job. Once clean – are they filling up to the right level? Now that they’re clean and full, it’s a good time to give them a little ACV or Oregano oil. Peppermint oil in the summer is good too – very cooling.3. Is the coop in decent repair? Most of mine aren’t, and it is beyond one Saturday to fix them :(. But I look and fix the worse problems. For the indoor pens, does the bedding need refreshing?
4. For the mobile pens, is it time to move them? How does the grass look? For the stationary pens, do I need to clean the coop floor? Do I need to add some hay to the runs for the birds to to scratch in?
5. Supplement refreshing – I don’t do this anymore, as now I mix the supplements directly into the feed. But back when I supplied free choice grit, oyster shells, kelp and Redmon salt, checking those levels would be on the list.
6. Summertime check – is the waterer in the shade? Can the birds get to it without having to venture out into full sun?
7. Check the roost – if broken, repair it. If soiled, clean it.
8. Nest boxes – repair and clean. Replace bedding as needed.
9. Walk around the coop or pen. Any signs of predators? Any holes or partial holes? If so, deal with them.
10. Saturday is a good day to give the birds a healthy dose of Chaffhaye. And if I’ve missed adding garlic powder to their feed, I make sure they get some today.
11. Check any droppings that I see to help determine if there are hidden health issues.
A True Amateur
When it comes to raising chickens, I’ve discovered that I’m a true amateur. From the definition in dictionary.com, the term amateur came to be used around 1784 as someone who “has a taste for (something).” It derives from the French word, amateur meaning “lover of,” which comes from Latin amatorem, meaning “Lover”. (I do love my chickens and have a taste for them.) Contemporary usage of amateur as, “a dabbler”, as opposed to “a professional” arose a little later.
My Dad used to say that if you have to work for a living, then you’re in the wrong job. And he truly enjoyed the engineering work that he did up until he took cancer and could no longer work on problems. Long into retirement, he still worked on his computer programs that modeled various aspects of water flow through pipes.
I only lately have come to realize that trying to “make a living” at an overgrown hobby is pretty hard. So I’m back to taking care of my breeders, not because it necessarily pays, but because I stand and watch them scratch through the cow pies and spread out the manure and eat the worms.
The morning mist covers the compost pile, and already the Delawares are searching for breakfast. I thought I was the only one up watching the sunrise, but the small standard Jerseys are already at the fence to greet me as I make the morning walk. The guineas talk about me the whole time as I pass their pen. The turkeys are watching to see if I brought them anything, and the two guard dogs are barking to let me know that I won’t catch them sleeping this morning. The Rhode Island Reds are free ranging this week – and they are snooping around the guinea pens to see if there might be any spilled feed.
As the sun tops the trees, I turn my back on the field and head toward the barn, my long shadow looking like-minded as we start the morning “work.” A true amateur – like my Dad – I do this even though it doesn’t pay in dollar bills.
Done with Shipping
We are not shipping anymore this season. It’s getting too warm, and the hatches have gotten so drawn out that it’s hard to meet the 72 hour window.
Several of you have orders for shipment that I’m still working on – don’t worry – I’ll still ship them to you, somehow.
And if you haven’t ordered yet but really need to have an order shipped to you, give me a call, and let’s see what we can work out. I want you to have some really good birds to get your flock going.
June farm tour coming up soon.
The May tour was a lot of fun, but it was hot and the birds were taking to the shade (like I was). So I want to try something different on Saturday June 3.
The tour will be in the evening – starting at either 7 or 7:30pm – I’ll decide on the time as I see how the birds are behaving closer to the tour.
The walking part of the tour takes about an hour, and then I thought we could sit around outside and have some dessert and a cool drink and talk about poultry or whatever you want to talk about until my bed time.
If you’ve never been out to our farm, this is the last chance for a while. And if you have – come on back – we’ve about got the fencing finished, the garden is in full production, the small standard Jerseys are new to see – and it’s just fun.