A Kuntry Klucker Halloween.

The trees are transitioning to brilliant colors of red, orange, and yellow. The days and nights are streadly growing cooler and visibility shorter. Animals scurry to prepare for the coming winter season, as the first snowfall of the year covers the ground. All this symbolizes the coming of winter, ushered in by the astronomical mid-point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice more commonly known as Halloween.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. The stores become haunted with costumes and creatures of all sorts. Caramel apples become a staple, and pumpkins color the store fronts a brilliant orange. A symbol of the last crop of the season, bringing a finality to the years harvest.

Children carve faces in pumpkins and place them on the front porch. A tradition tracing back to the Druids to ward off evil spirits. Harvest displays appear on door steps along with a humble scarecrow overseeing the bounty of the season’s surplus. However, halloween traditions are not just limited to the humans during this time of magic and fantasy. Here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm, the girls also participate in the seasons festivities.

Every year after Halloween, I frequent the local stores, buying up all the pumpkins that did not make the designated cut to be Jack-O-Lanterns. The remaining pumpkins left are reduced in price, making perfect carving projects for my girls. In addition to late fall fun and entertainment they provide, pumpkin are very nutritious for chickens. They supply an abundance of essential nutrients needed for my girls during this late season, after the bugs and plants have gone dorment. Additionally, since they are large, they will serve as boredom busters. Pumpkins are the focuse of activity for my girls during November going into December. Due to the fact that temperatures are below freezing at night, the pumpkins stay fresh before giving way to the natural process of decomposition.

Over the years, my girls have become excellent pumpkin carvers,. Enjoying the seasons final harvest of pumpkins and other fall delectables. They happily peck at the pumpkin, anxious to get to the seeds contained within the center of the tasty orb. As they peck their way to the center, they carve a design in the exterior of the pumpkin, carving their Halloween pumpkin. All the finished projects are different, each displaying unique features and designs all created by chickens. A true piece of chicken art.

Many people do not associate chickens with artists or even expert carvers. My girls are here to prove that chickens are natures little artists. The girls enjoy their own version of the holidays as they share in the tradition of the season.

As the fall season surrenders to winter, it’s time to think about over-wintering your flock. I will be back with tips on how to keep your flock happy and healthy till the return of the Sun’s warmth.

As always, thanks for reading. The girls and I will see you soon.

Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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Farewell Miss Katie

Hi everyone, I am sorry I have not posted in a while, it been a crazy summer. We have had a lot go on like I am sure you all do. Summer has a way of making your life maddening. Everything from the kids being home from school to summer camp and so forth can make for a busy summer. However, this blog post will possess more of a somber tone. We have lost one of our favorite hens a few weeks ago, Miss Katie. This post will be dedicated to her and her memory of her life on the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

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Farm life has a lot of joys, everything from watching new chicks grow into beautiful chickens to watching  a newly planted plant comes into it own. The connection that farm life bring you to nature and the earth is so fulfilling. However, along with all the joys and blessings that farm life bring, it also has a side that is sadder. The loss of a beloved pet is always hard whether it be a cat, dog, or in our case a beloved hen.

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Miss Katie was our momma hen, she loved to hatch eggs and raise chickens. It was her calling in life to be our resident momma hen. She did a wonderful job as well. She raised several clutches of Buff Orphingtons for me along with Miss Aphrodite, the chick that had a hard start in life several years ago. If Miss Katie had not raised Aphrodite for me she would have not made it. She needed a chicken mamma so Miss Katie took her under her wing and raised her into a beautiful and friendly polish hen. Aphrodite acts a lot like Miss Katie. Since Katie raised her she has adopted some of her personality traits. In Miss Aphrodite, Miss Katie although gone lives on here at the Kuntry Klucker Fam.

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Miss Katie was apart of my original shipment of chicks that started our adventures here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm. She was one of the original 17 chicks the I ordered. From early on she stood out as one of our friendliest hens. Not only was she apart of a flock but she considered herself to be a “human chicken”. She acted more like a dog than a chicken. When we went outside to spend time with the chickens she would be the first one to greet us and want to be picked up and held. She was also our backyard lap chicken. She loved to sit on our laps and talk to us telling us about her day of hunting and pecking with her flock mates in the gardens. She always had something to say. When she was not busy raising chicks she was little miss jabber beak. She loved to talk and connect with her human flock, that being my hubby, sons and I.

She loved human attention. All my girls are very friendly but Miss Katie went above and beyond the friendly line and wanted to be with her human flock members. She loved getting rides in the wagon and following us around the backyard as we did our chores and worked in the gardens. Whenever we were outside Miss Katie was there to follow us around and offer the help and support. She was one in a million. She was the gem of my flock and the friendliest hen I have ever known. I had no idea that a hen could be more like a dog till I had Miss Katie come to our farm. I am so glad that she was in the little peeping box that I picked up at the post office 8 going on 9 years ago. She has indeed changed our lives for the better.

Several weeks ago she came down sick, acting as though she did not feel well. I brought her inside and placed her in my hospital pen that I have in the house for any of my girls that need specific round the clock attention. I determined after much examination and research that Miss Katie’s heart was failing and the she was just getting old and that her remaining time with us was short. She lived out her remaining time with us inside in the living room surrounded by her “human flock” that she loved so much. She watched TV with us and listened to us as we talked in the family room. She was just apart of our family in a way she always wanted to be. As she slowly started to fail her heart gave out she laid down her head and went to her final sleep with the human flock around her. She lived a full life full of love and pampering care. At 9 years old, she had a very long and happy life. Even for a well cared for chicken 9 years is a long life.

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We buried her the next day in my little cemetery where I bury all my girls. It’s always sad when I lose one of my girls but Miss Katie was hard to say good by to. The life at the Kuntry Klucker Farm goes on but there is a big void left in the backyard since Katie went to rainbow bridge. I love all my girls but she was a special gal that left a hole in my heart and our flock. I am sure that I will never have a hen quite like Miss Katie. I am just so glad that I have Miss Aphrodite to carry on her legacy and personality.

Every time I step outside to take care of the girls I stop by her grave and say hi. I can still hear her in my minds eye talking to me about her day catching bugs and tending the gardens. Tales of ripe tomatoes, plump berries, juicy bugs and other goings on in the backyard still catch my ear. She loved to talk to us and help us tend the gardens. Life is not the same in the backyard, she will be missed and there will forever be a void left by Miss Katie. She was one in a million, and gem that I was lucky enough to have privilege to care for and pamper.

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So to you Miss Katie, I say thank you. Thank you for coming to our little farm and blessing our life with your presence. We miss you so much but we will be okay, I have peace knowing that you died surrounded by your human flock that loved you so much. As you sit on your perch at Rainbow Bridge check in on us every once in a while.

Till then, Fly high sweet girl, Fly High.

We love you sweetheart. ♥️

Moving Day!

The Bantom Boutique crew are finally in their news digs. I moved them to their outdoor home about a week ago. I usually wait till they are 6 weeks old before making the big transition but given the very warm weather we are having I thought they would do better outdoors. They still need their little heater during the night, but during the day they are busy exploring their new home.

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Making the big transition from brooder to coop takes a bit of care and good timing. One reason that I usually get a May hatch date for all my new chicks is the ability to move them outdoor sooner than a cooler hatch date would allow. Once the are mostly feathered out I start planning their big moving day. I have found that the best time to move chick outdoors is a night. During this time they are kind of drowsy which makes the transition less stressful on the brood. After carefully arranging the coop to resemble the brooder as closely as I can, I carefully place them one by one in their new home. I allow them to spend at least 48 hours in the coop before I allow them access to the pen. This gives them time to become familiar with their new coop and help them to associate the coop with safety and sleeping. I place their heater, food, and water in the coop along with fresh savings. I also introduce them to roosts. Their coop has plenty of room so they spend the first few days learning about the big outdoors and playing on their roosts.

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After about 48 hours I allow them access to their pen. The curiosity with their new surroundings is just so adorable to watch. It is much like a child who experiences Disney World for the first time. Just so many things to do and not enough time. They quickly take to all the open space and have a blast. The first thing that many of the chicks did was dust bathe. This is a natural activity that all chickens do which they find very enjoyable. They don’t need to be taught they just know. Because I have the bottom of their pen filled with sand, they have plenty of dust bathing media. They spent most of  their first day running around and dust bathing. I can say that they absolutely love their new digs.

Although they are officially moved in to their home I still have some work to do. For the first few weeks, at dusk I will have to pick them up one by one and place them in their coop for the night. They will at some point put themselves to bed, but for now they need a little extra instruction. Till they can master the ladder up to the coop I will have to give them a little bit of help. One evening I will go out to put them to bed and find that they are all in the coop and ready to be lock in for the night. It is not very hard to put them to bed I just have to plan a little extra time in my evening to see that they all get into the coop safely.

Andromeda is still with Miss Katie, she will raise the little one for the next few weeks or so till she starts to push the little one away to make its own way in the world. At this time I will reintroduce the little chick to the Bantom Boutique flock. I will do a later post on my procedure to successfully integrate the little chick back into the flock. But for now, everyone is happy and enjoying life in the big outdoors here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

As always thank you for spending a little time with the girls and I, we are so glad that you stopped by. Till next time, keep on clucking.

~ The Kuntry Klucker and Bantom Boutique Crew ~

Farewell Roy, Rest in Peace Buddy

Along the the joys of keeping backyard chickens there are always still the sorrows. It has been said that farm life is a balance between life and death, this is certainly true. Unfortunately, it is not easy, even though I know that the life of a chicken is not indefinitely long, when the times comes to say good-by its always hard.

Yesterday the girls and I lost our beloved rooster Roy. Now when most people think of roosters they think of a fearsome feathered backyard terror on two legs running them down. Roy was not like that at all. He was a gently creature, he was kind to humans, gentle with the girls, and the husband of his flock. He took pride in his girls even when they did not want him in their space at times, as a women I can understand this. Even then, he would always provide treats for the girls and make sure they got the best of the goods.

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After suffering a hawk attack several summers ago Roy was never really quite the same. With my loving care he made a full physical recovery but not a neurological one. The hawk attacked his head leaving him quite wounded. After days of care he was returned to his girls. However, ever since then he would tend to tire easier needing several naps during the day. Even then he would make sure that he took care of his ladies. I am sure that he was one tired guy at the end of the day.

All roosters are not bad, all roosters are not mean or aggressive. They have a job to do and they do it to the best of their ability. This is why I wanted a rooster. Roy however was special, he was the boss of the backyard but he was also gentle to the ones he loved including me, the girls, and his boy, my son Elijah. Loosing him is such a big loss, he has left a silent hole in our backyard.

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Every morning he would crow greeting the day while summoning his anticipation for breakfast for him and the girls. If I was late in letting them out in the morning he would make it no secret. If there was something amiss in the backyard, he would sound the alarm altering me to a problem calling for backup. He was a great rooster, I knew that with him on duty the in the backyard things were good. Now the girls and I are going to have to find a new normal till we decide if we want to get another rooster. Roy can never be replaced, even if I get another rooster it is no guarantee that this one will be a gentle as Roy. He really was one in a million, a diamond in the rough.

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Several days ago Roy got sick. I tried everything in my power to help him but in the end nature won. It was his time to retire and make his journey to Rainbow Bridge. I am usually able to nurse my girls back to health, but every once in a while nature beats me. His case was an unfortunate case of the power of nature over me no matter how hard I tried. It is a sobering reminder that nature is a force that we can never control now matter the extent of our efforts.

So to you Roy, thank you for everything. Thank you for your years of service, protecting the ladies, providing for them in way that I never could, and for being the prize of our flock. You are indeed worth your weight in gold. Rest if Peace Buddy, every once in a while if you get a chance check in on us from your perch at Rainbow Bridge.

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Fairwell Buddy, and thanks for all you taught me and for being my alley in caring for the girls. You are loved and will be missed more than you ever know. Fly High buddy, Fly High.

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~The Kuntry Klucker Crew~

 

“Coop-Scaping”

Well, I was finally able to do some much needed landscaping or “coop-scaping”  as I call it around the chicken coops this week. It is something that I have wanted to do for a few years but just did not have the means to get it done. This year I made it a priority to liven up the girls digs and Roy’s Roost as well. For this post I will show what I did for Roy and Miss Katie.

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I have Roy’s Roost in my spice/herb garden in my backyard. Roy, when free ranging would always spend most of his time lounging and patrolling this particular garden (I have 7 gardens in the backyard so he actually has his pick). I am not sure if it has the best bugs, shade, or tasty greens. But for whatever reason it is his favorite. On the heels of that, when deciding where to put his coop there was no other location but his favorite garden. It must be nice to live in the garden, literally. I had to transplant some of the plants to make room for his coop and pen but that was not too hard.

Anyway, after making room for his coop and pen I needed a landscaping plan. I took a while to think about it before I bought all the decorations necessary to make it as attractive as possible. Finally, after the plan was complete and purchased, the fun part began.

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First off, what home in not complete without a front porch. So I purchased some paving tiles and placed them at his pen door. It serves as both a standing area when I service his coop and a mudd deterrent when we get the heavy rains in the fall in winter. In addition, I have a pot of marigolds and petunias as his door step because who does not like flowers at their door.

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This (above) is the before shot of his pad before I added the coop-scaping decor and flowers. Up till this point all I had completed was the white picket fence around his coop. It does not really serve any purpose but just to have a white picket fence around his home. I have always wanted one, but since that is not always practical I had to make sure that he had one to decorate his pad.

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And…here is the after picture. I have added hanging flower baskets, potted plants, and wind chimes. Amongst the already planted herbs is a Gogi berry bush, Gooseberry bush, and an Arona Berry bush. All of which I planted this spring with the exception of the tall Arona Berry Bush currently loaded with many white blooms. Roy loves this tree and picks berries from it every year. I get what grows toward the top and let him have what grows at his level.

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Here are some closer images of the coop-scaping around his pad. The pots contain marigolds and petunias. I chose these flowers for around his home for a few reasons. One, flies and other insects do not like the marigolds, hence they are natural bug repellant. Second, they are edible for the chickens. Since my girls like to sample the land I make sure that I plant things that are safe for them to eat. Finally, they hold up well around the girls. Some plants do not take being snacked on very well, they wilt and die before the season is up. The Marigolds and Petunias are very resistant and last well into the first killing frost of the late fall season. When I plant in my backyard I have to plant with care for the girls sake and for ours as well. I need things that hold up well to a flock of chickens and their curious nature.

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Finally, the view from my favorite chair in the backyard. I love to have my coffee in the morning relaxing listing to Roy crow and taking in the morning air. This was my scene this morning when I was enjoying my “Wake up with Roy time”. I usually have the pen door open and Roy and Katie out in the yard. But we have a hawk that is currently scoping out our yard and I wanted to keep them close to the home for their protection. Roy was attacked by a hawk several summers ago, so I take their interest in my chickens seriously. Roy and Katie don’t seem to mind it, they seem to sense the danger as well. I make sure that when I have to keep them in their pen for their safely that I stock it with lots of treats and tasty morsels.

I also have the Kuntry Klucker coop-scaped and ready for the spring and summer season. More on that next time.

Till then thanks for stopping by and keep crowing!

~The Kuntry Klucker Crew~

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The Spring Swing…

Hi All, Sorry it has been a while since I have updated you on our goings on around here, it has been a busy spring. Like most of you, we are over winter and ready to plant flowers and get the warm weather seasons started. So far our spring has been pretty cool so getting things in the ground has not been possible. So, instead of planting the veggie gardens in the ground this year I have then started in seed trays in the house awaiting the last frost to pass for planting.

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The girls too have been rather busy. We designed their chicken yard or play ground this spring. This is the outdoor enclosure next to their coop that I allow them to run in when the weather is good. Unfortunately our spring has been rather rainy so it has been a slow work in progress. The girls and I finally completed it last week. I have been wanting to spruce up their outdoor run area and incorporate more things to engage them. This year I added a few new things that they are absolutely loving. A Sand box, that is right, I got the girls a sand box which they love to scratch in and dust bath in. I also purchased them a swing. I know what you are thinking, a swing, but yes. Apparently chickens love to swing. I have a few that use it, the rest are still afraid of it. I guess they are making double sure that it will not kill them.  The swing is taking some getting used to but the sand box is a big hit!

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When I let them out in the morning I first let them in their covered pen. I place their food and water in the section to keep the wild birds out of their food. It also ensures that their food will not get wet should we get a stray shower passing over. I then open up the side door that allows them access to their outdoor playground. Lately though, instead of being more exited about breakfast they are more excited about getting to go outside and play in their playground. They practically fly out of the coop in the morning heading for their sandbox then later go back into the covered pen area to get breakfast. It reminds me a lot of a elementary class of children flooding the playground as recess is announced. My girls love to play, it just makes me smile and laugh as I watch them enjoy their new playground digs.

Once the weather warms up I plan on continuing the cinder block row in front of the playground then filling the holes with flowers. I am hoping that the weather warms up enough for me to get to the gardening phase of my plan. The girls will not care too much about the flowers, but I think they need a few flowers to decorate their digs.

Now for some sad news. Along with the fun of raising chickens, there is also the reality that they do not live forever. Miss Lola passed away last week. She got sick and before I could even get to the vet the next day she passed in the night. Based on her condition and no appearance of any illness I think her heart just got tired, stopped and she passed. There was noting the vet could have done for her anyway. She is missed by both me and her flock friends. Chickens do have a mourning process, they all attended the funeral and cooed lowly and moaned as they said good buy to their fellow flock mate. The pecking order then had to be rearranged which aids in the mourning process for the girls. So far I think all is good, the girls all know where they stand in the pecking order line. I buried her in my wildflower garden in the backyard. A few that have gone before her are also buried there. They are missed but live again as my wildflower garden blooms this summer reincarnating their spirits in the form of beautiful flowers that feed the butterflies and hummingbirds that visit the flowers. It is a beautiful circle of life that takes place in my backyard.

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Roy is doing fine, he has a coop mate now. Miss Katie, one of my larger hens hurt her leg and now has a limp. She cannot climb the latter that leads to the coop so I have put her in “Roy’s Roost” with Roy. Roy too has leg issues that occurred when he was attacked by a hawk a few summers past. Katie now having suffered an injury is now rooming with Roy.

Roy is so sweet to her. While out in the yard he watches over her and does not stray far from her. He knows that she has been injured and does what he can to take care of her. He will locate a grub or what not and call her over to eat it. Katie is loving her man, the two make a great pair. She does not pick on him like the other girls do, so their arrangement is just perfect.

I had to isolate Roy from the girls because they were picking on him badly after he was hurt in the hawk attack. He is such a good rooster that I ordered another coop for him to protect him for the other girls who were brutally picking on him. Roy and Miss Katie are great together and offer each other quality companionship. I assume these two will remain coop mates for the rest of their life. The vet says that Miss Katie will be fine but will limp the rest of her life. Roy also having a limp makes them the perfect pair.

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Well that is all for now, I hope that my next post will encapsulate the completed decor of my spring plan of the girls digs. I hope to get the flowers planted in front of their playground in the next few weeks if the weather allows. I am sure that the girls will offer much help as we play in the dirt together. All girls need some flower gardens, my girls are no different.

Till next time keep on crowing!

~The Kuntry Klucker Crew~

hiding behind the water

 

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