Frogs, Fruit, and Chicken Poop

Yes, it’s finally here.

The alpine strawberries have flowers.

I found a frog in one of my water gardens.  He jumped out immediately when I saw him, but I have hopes he (or actually SHE) was in there laying eggs.  I’ll have to check for tadpoles later.

The front yard vegetable garden is pretty much in place (as least as much as I’m going to do on it this Spring.)

A good share of those beds are now planted with seeds of various kinds: lettuce, beets, and chard galore.  I’ve started the corn inside, and before too much longer, I’ll be getting the beans in.

The straw bales for the attempt at Straw Bale Gardening are coming on just like the book says they should.  This is day six of “conditioning”, which is basically just watering them really well and adding a high dose of nitrogen.  I stuck a couple of fingers down inside the bales this morning, and they were really hot, which is exactly what should be happening right now.  I’m kind of excited about this trial.  I’m going to plant mostly tomatoes in them, because they could certainly use some extra warmth in my climate.  I always struggle with tomatoes, so if they do well with this method, I might very well continue it every year.

I also did the first pruning cut on the new (future) espalier trees.  I took off about a foot of height, bringing the top down to where I want the lower set of branches to be.  It was a bit of a wrench, cutting them!  They were already so small, and the top was starting to leaf out a bit.

Yesterday, I was thinking about all the fruit vines, trees, and shrubs I’m adding to the yard.  Here’s a list of what I’ve put in so far:

Two varieties of Blackberries

Two varieties of Raspberries

Three varieties of Blueberries

Three apple trees

One Honeyberry (I need to add another to pollinate it)

Hardy Kiwi

Two varieties of Grapes

Two varieties of Gooseberries

One Fig

One Pear

One Thimbleberry

Two varieties of Quince

Four varieties of Currants.

And in the next year or so, I plan to add another Honeyberry, six more apples, another pear, two more varieties of raspberry, blackcaps, a mulberry, another currant, and a peach tree.  And perhaps a cherry, if I can find one that will stay small enough.  Oh, and a Chilean Guava, to replace the one that died.

Can you tell I really, really like fruit?

Possibly Thursday, but definitely by the weekend, the baby quail are moving outside.  They are almost fully feathered, and although they are extremely contented in their brooder box, they have definitely outgrown it.

I discovered an interesting thing about my chickens the other day.  If you own chickens, perhaps you’re familiar with how horrendously stinky their fresh poop is.  Older poop…not smelly at all, but when a girl just drops one, it could clear a room!  At least, when the hens are eating conventional layer mash/pellets.

We’ve had our girls on a grain diet for around a year, and they are allowed to forage however many bugs and worms they can find, as well as eating greens like grass and dandelions.  Sometime in the middle of winter, I noticed that I didn’t smell anything when the girls pooped right next to me.  A few days ago, I tested it by getting down close to some freshly dropped poop and taking a whiff.  Nothing.  No stink at all.

Their feathers are glossy and lovely, and even though all the online sources tell me that four-year-old hens are “old” and probably are not laying anymore, my girls lay an egg nearly every day.  They do take a break in winter, because I don’t provide extra light, but otherwise you could never tell these girls are “old”.  They clearly feel and act young.

And their poop doesn’t stink anymore!  Wow.

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2 responses to “Frogs, Fruit, and Chicken Poop

  1. What exactly have you been feeding your birds? I could do with a little less chicken stink around here.

    • It varies somewhat, according to what we have at hand, but right now they are getting a mixture of wheat and oats, with a little whole corn mixed in. I feed more corn in winter, less in summer. They also get a little dry cat food with the mix. I also feed them sprouted wheat, house leftovers, and they are getting a lot of free range worms and bugs right now. I’m setting up a worm farm to I can add supplemental worms during the off seasons. I also want to add different kinds of seeds and grains on a regular basis, but I’m still figuring out what I can get cheaply enough to be able to afford it.

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