It’s Tilling Day!!

Welcome back everyone!! Today is the day that the girls look forward to the most, tilling day. For those who don’t understand what all the excitement is about, allow me to explain. Tilling means two things, one the start of the next growing season and two, worms!! I am more excited about planting crops while the girls are more excited about the worms and bugs.

tilling1

I have lots of help here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm. My hubby willingly tills the garden for me while the girls enthuiastically follow him gobbling up any worms and bugs that the tiller disturbs. Its a big deal here at the farm. Below I will chronical the events of the evening.

IMG_2841.jpg

The tiller is awoken from its long winters slumber in the garden shed and brought to the backyard. Now most animals when they see something as scary looking as a tiller coming into the living quarters they respond in sheer panic, the girls not so much. The girls (with 8 years now under their wings) know exactly the bounty that shortly awaits them when the tiller makes it annual apperance. They flock to the tiller following the user to the garden where they line up for the imminent buffet.

tilling2

As the tiller turns the soil, worms and other delectables come to the surface which the girls delightfully gobble up. Now the rules of this chicken game is to be the chicken right behind the tiller. The hen that is closest to the tiller gets the worms first. Its a literal game of “the early bird gets the worm”. As you can probably suspect, there are squabbles for the first place position behind the tiller, but that’s all part of the fun.

tilling4

As the garden is further tilled the worms are more abundant so being the first hen in line does not matter as much. As the tiller makes its way around the garden, so do the girls. Instead of a line of hungry chickens, we then have circles of worm inspectors following the tiller. The human perspective of the excitement that the girls expereince is absolutely hilarious. We get as much joy out of watching them getting the worms as they do in getting the worms. Owning chickens is so much fun, this is just one of the delightful aspects that chickens bring to the backyard homestead.

tilling5

When the tiller has done its job and is returned to its place in the garden shed, the girls still work for a while longer. They will continue to further till the soil for me for the next several l weeks. Once the last frost has passed it will be time to plant the crops and the growing season begins. The girls will continue to work in the garden all summer long patrolling the plants for bugs and turning the soil as they search for delicious worms to feast on.

tilling6

The Bantam Botique and TARDIS crew on the other hand are new to all of this excitement. This is their first experience with the tiller, this time last year they were still eggs not yet hatched. Enigma and the crew are not sure what to make of the tiller. But if life can teach a chicken anything its to love the worm god, AKA the tiller.

IMG_2866

That is all the excitement for now, the girls will be busy the next several weeks helping us prepare for planting season. Thanks for stopping by, the girls and I will be back soon with a post on the new arrivals. New chicks will arrive May 11!! We here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm are anxiously awaiting their arrival.

See you soon, till then keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

IMG_2818

Advertisements

Spring has Sprung!!

Spring has finally sprung here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. The days are finally getting longer and the weather is starting to warm up nicely. Along with longer days and warmer weather comes flowers and bugs. The girls in particular are excited about the bugs whereas I am a bit more excited about the flowers. But no matter the excitement whether it be over bugs or flowers spring means one thing, planting season!

IMG_1210

Things are about to get real busy here at the Kuntry Kluckr Farm and the girls are very excited. First we took the plastic down from around the coops. I put this up in late fall to protect the girls from the chilly winter winds and participation. The plastic helps to keep the coop and pens warm and dry while keeping rain, snow and ice out. All the girls appreciate the added protection and consequently spend more time in the coop and pen where it is warm and dry as opposed to outside. But as the weather warms the girls spend less time in the pen and more time in the backyard doing what chickens do, hunting and pecking.

After taking down the winter protection from around the coops it was coop cleaning day. I deep clean the coops once a year usually in the spring after the winter season. I completely wash them inside and out along with the pen, shoveling all the old sand out of the coops and replacing it with new fresh sand. Since the girls are out in the yard a lot more I can finally prepare the coops for the spring and summer seasons. Now that coop cleaning day is done its time to start getting ready for planting season.

IMG_0988.jpg

While I am busy planning the gardens for the upcoming growing season, the girls are busy doing their share of work tilling them for me. All winter long I dump shaving from the coops on the gardens where it decomposes conditioning the soils in preparation for spring planting. The girls after a long winter of being cooped up due to the winter temps and weather enthusiastically get to work. They turn over all the shaving in the gardens as they search for worms and other delectables. In the process their efforts till the gardens working the shaving into the soil as they search for bugs and worms. Soon it will be time for the tiller which they thoroughly enjoy. Turning over the soil in preparation for planing lends to many worms to enjoy. When the tiller come to the backyard they know the banquet that awaits.

IMG_1212

Finally, after spending the winter in the warm dry coop and pen, its time to catch up with old friends at the other end of the yard. The Bantam Boutique and Tardis Crew are doing well. They too are appreciating the longer days and warmer weather. The Silkies are busy finding worms and bugs in the mulch that surrounds their coop while the Bantam Crew does the same. The sheer joy that is expressed upon the unearthing of a juicy worm or fresh bug is nothing less than exilerating in the world of a chicken.

As the flocks once again greet each other and the increasing warmth from the sun all is blissful here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. Soon we will have crops in the ground and berries on the bushes. The girls will dilligently work to rid my garden plants of bugs while getting a bit of the spoil in the process. Good times are ahead as we plow away at the coming growing season.

The girls and I have more exciting news to share with you here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. I have ordered some new recruits, chicks will be arriving in early May! We are so excited to welcome these new little members and eagerly await their arrival. I will of course have a post detailing the additions to the Kuntry Klucker Farm crew.

Till then, thanks for stopping by we will see you again soon!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

Spring Fever!!!

For anyone who lives on a farm spring means several things; planting season, gardening, and chicks. The latter being the most important! Like many of you, I too am over winter and cannot wait to get outside and get my hands dirty working the soil. I look forward to the spring season every year. So far I have planted a Gogi berry bush, Gooseberry bush, two concord grape plants, and a few blueberries. Planting fruit producing bushes in the dreariness of February reminds me that better days are coming and invests in my future harvest.

IMG_0089

Enough of me though, the girls too are ready for spring. After a long winter with cold weather, and short days they are finally coming out of hibernation and cranking up the egg laying. I got my first farm fresh eggs of the year a few weeks ago. They are sorely missed when they are on break but I look forward to a farm fresh omelet made by my girls as the Vernal Equinox approaches.

You see, I don’t force my ladies to lay in the harshness of winter. I allow them to take the much needed break that their bodies need during the winter season. Some people put lights in the coop to encourage a bit more egg laying which is fine. I just choose to let nature do what it does when it comes to their bodies producing eggs. Yes, it means that although I have a dozen hens in my backyard I have to buy eggs at the store. It is the funniest oxymoron that I can think of, but it is true. Even those who raise chickens have to occasionally buy eggs at the store. But now that spring is coming they are leaving little gifts for me just about daily. There is nothing better than a farm fresh egg after a winter of store bought eggs. The taste and quality just cannot compare. I treasure their gifts and thank them everyday for their efforts.

My flower gardens are starting to come alive as well. Along with farm fresh eggs I look forward to my gardens perking up and sprouting. I have a humming bird garden out my back door which I planted a bunch of spring bulbs in a few years ago. Each spring it is an absolute delight to watch them come alive again after a long dormant season. Each year they become more and more numerous and more and more beautiful. I also have a bird sanctuary garden which is also showing signs of life. It is my ritual every morning to grab my coffee head out the door and check on the growth of my plants as they bask in the early spring Sun. After a long winter their presence just warms my heart and bring me such joy.

Next, as the ground starts to warm I look forward to tilling the veggie gardens. The girls are always willing and waiting to help me with this chore as I prepare for the planting and growing season. As hubby and I till the gardens the girls are close behind picking out the worms and other delectable grubs that we uncover in the soil. They know that when we start up the tiller their banquet awaits. They just about fall over each other and cannot wait to have at the freshly tilled ground. From then on they have a busy garden season ahead as they patrol the rows of plants looking for grubs to much on. Yes, I will loose a few tomatoes in the process but I see it all as their payment for their much needed help.

So, am I suffering from Spring Fever? You bet, as soon as the baby chicks arrive at my local Tractor Supply Company store I loose it, I just cannot contain my excitement for the upcoming season. Once the clocks move forward and the Vernal Equinox arrives I am in a full blown case of the Fever. But you know, after a long winter and a break from the gardening chores, it is good to bet back in the tractor seat again and get back at it.

I know we will have plenty of adventures to share this spring and summer as the girls and I garden together. We will make sure to share our stores of life here on the farm. Till then thanks for reading and keep on crowing!!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew~

DSCF4737

 

 

 

 

Gardening with the “Girls”!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!! I know that I did. The girls had a bit of a hard time with all the fireworks, but we made it through to 2016. Now that Christmas is over and I am beginning to get flower and gardening catalogs in the mail for the upcoming planting season. I thought I would take this time and dedicate a post to my little garden helpers, the girls. The girls get excited as I start getting the backyard ready for planting. Not only do they get to forage in the newly tilled soil for worms, but they know that it means lots of good things to snack on as they spend their day hunting and pecking.

DSCF5129

Ok, so I guess many of you may be wondering how I turn my girls into little gardeners. As I stated in my first post, the reason that I got my girls is because I wanted to use their natural abilities to help me on my little hobby farm. Most people get chickens because they want a fresh supply of eggs from their backyard. I will have to say I also enjoy the fruits of their labor in that sense. But honestly, chickens can provide for you in more ways than just eggs. I will show you how I put my girls to work all the while keeping them happy and healthy.

DSCF5070

First the coop, I have a penthouse coop, this means that it is raised off the ground by at least 2 feet. This discourages rodents from making a home under the coop. It also keep moisture from the heavy rains that soak the ground from seaping into the coop and growing mold and other nasty things. I have an attached covered pen where the girls stay when I am away from home or when the weather is extremely bad. On stormy days I keep them in their covered pen for protection. They will stay nice and dry under the roof of their pen. A few of my smaller girls are flight risks so I have to make sure they are secured in the pen on windy days.

IMG_0089

Next to the coop and pen I have something that I call the chicken yard. This is an attached outdoor run (not covered) that resides under a large shade tree which aids in protection. I use this outdoor enclosure mostly in the summer time. This allows me to let the girls out of the coop but also keep them close to the coop where their water and food is. This also insures that they remain cool and comfortable under the large shade tree during the hottest part of the day. I also use this outdoor enclosure when I plant seeds in my gardens. I love their help in tilling the dirt but after I plant the seeds I have to keep them out of the gardens till the seedlings are mature enough to handle a flock of chickens scratching in the gardens.

After the seeds have sprouted and can handle the flock I release the girls and allow them to roam the backyard. When we designed our coop we designed a little “chicken door” in the big door that allows us to enter the pen. This way, we can let them out into the backyard without leaving the large human sized door open. This allows us to let the chickens out but keep the wild birds and other animals from getting in their pen.

They get very excited when I open their little chicken door. They know that fun and bugs await them.

Ok, so after I let the girls out, they get to work doing what chickens do best, hunting and pecking. They are great assets in my garden, they eat all the bugs that would otherwise damage my crops. They only things that they will not eat are squash bugs. I really wish they would eat them but I guess even they are discussing to them. They must not taste all that I good I suppose.

Pea in the garden

I have several gardens for them to work in. They make their rounds but have their favorite gardens to tend. Roy likes to hang out in the spice garden. I have a few berry bushes planted there that he likes to pick at. Some of the  girls like the veggie garden, they gets lots of bugs off the plants and a few of the veggies too. But I think their favorite garden is the corn and pumpkin garden. They love corn! Occasionally I will pick an ear of and throw it on the ground for them to devour. If you have never seen chicken eat an ear of corn, I will tell you that it is a side splitter. They will peck the cob clean, literally nothing will be left. They take their corn eating very seriousally.

People ask me if I loose a lot of my crops to the chickens. The answer is yes and no. Yes they do get their share of the spoil, I will find a ripe tomato with a chicken peck out of it. I just pick it off the plant and throw it on the ground for the girls to finish off.  No, because the bugs they keep off the plants are such help and worth them pecking at a tomato or two.

However, The hardest thing to keep them out of are my blueberry bushes. They will eat the berries green before I even get a change to pick a ripe one. One year, they ate all my green berries and I had little to no yield. So I have to make previsions to keep the gang out of my berry rows. After I get what I need off the bushes I let them have at the rest. My blackberries are a bit more chicken proof. They are much taller, the girls can only eat what is near the ground. We share the blackberries much better, I pick from the top of the bushes and they pick from the bottom. I will have to say there is noting funnier than a chicken going berry picking.

But all in all they are more help than not. With my chickens I can pretty much grow organic produce. They serve as pest exterminators on two legs. I do loose some of my yield to the girls but I consider it pay off for all their help and assistance. Additionally, they will eat weeds, weed seeds, and lots of other plants that I find annoying. In particular they will devour clover patches, they absolutely love clover. During the spring when the clover starts to emerges they are busy at work getting rid of it for me. They even weed my gardens for me. As they till in the dirt looking for bugs, worms, and whatever they deem delicious, they also do some weeding for me.

DSCF5130

Here is Miss Betsy and Miss Sweet Pea hard at work. They are snacking in my wildflower garden.

I guess the best part of putting them to work in my gardens is that they fertilize as they go. In addition to the shavings from the coop that I use to fertilize my gardens, they leave fresh supplies as they tend. I have hardy plants that give me great yields in return.

Gardening with my girls is both rewarding and fun. I always have company in my backyard when I work. They are always eager to help me till, weed, and keep my plants pest free. Chickens give so much more than eggs. They are agriculture geniuses that allow me to grow organic, pest free, and chemical free food for my family.

For this reason my ladies will live out their lives here on my hobby farm after they no longer lay eggs. You see, just because they are not laying eggs does not make them worthless. They will enter a phase in their lives that I affectionally call “Hen-tirement”. Basically, instead of providing for me in terms of eggs they will assist me in other ways. Tilling, composting, providing fertilizer, and companionship. Chickens are truly a wonderful pet to have. If you take gardening seriously, adding a few chickens will only make the hobby more enjoyable and rewarding.

As the season wanes and fall begins to take my gardens over, they are still hard at work. After I harvest all that I can before frost, they spend the rest of the season and the winter tilling the soil and getting all the leftover that they can. By spring, my soil is well fertilized, tilled, and primed for the next seasons growth. They are always at work for me, doing what chickens do best, hunting and pecking with glee.

IMG_0459

Thanks for visiting our farm. Till next time, keep on crowing. The girls and I will be back soon!!

The Kuntry Klucker Crew

DSCF4737