Tag Archives: free-range chickens

One Week to the Next

This weekend was not exactly balmy, but it was warm enough to continue melting the snow.  What a difference a week makes during spring in Minnesota!  It was only 9 days ago when we were dumped on and school was canceled because of all the snow. (See my last post).  Besides a few random piles here and there, all the snow is now gone.  Hooray!  (It is Minnesota though and more snow over the next month is a definite possibility).

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Last weekend our vegetable garden had a foot of snow covering it.  Today?  No snow in sight and the rhubarb is even peeking out of the soggy soil.

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The chickens were finally able to escape the coop and do some free-ranging after a long winter.  They headed for a dirt pile that we have and got busy scratching and doing whatever it is that chickens do.DSC_0115

The warmer temps allowed us to get outside and start working on all those spring chores.  I spent a lot of time walking around with my garden shears and cutting back various plants, like the Annabelle Hydrangea along the pole shed…

DSC_0110…And the ornamental grass, Sedum, coneflower, and miniature Joe Pye weed along the granary.

DSC_0120Jesse helped me clean up our raised beds with strawberries and blueberries.  We raked out the dead leaves, pulled some random weeds, and raked up some pine needles to freshen up the mulch.  This will be our third season with the blueberry plants and we are hoping that some of the big bushes finally produce a good amount of fruit.

DSC_0118We also found time to prepare for our baby chicks that are due to arrive some time at the end of next week.  They will be inside the house in this box for the first five days so that we can keep an eye on them and make sure to keep them warm and drinking water.

DSC_0122Jesse also cleaned out the brood boxes for his beehives and they are all ready for the new bees. We are not exactly sure when to expect them, but likely at the end of April.

Spring is definitely rolling along here in Minnesota and we could not be happier.  🙂

Lynell

 

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Filed under Animals, Chickens, Daily life, Flower, Gardens, Vegetable

Free-Ranging in January?

It has been a strange winter in Minnesota.  We have had a few coatings of snow here and there, but nothing has stuck around for an extended amount of time.  Even more unusual is the record-setting high temperatures we have had lately.  On the way home from work today, on the 10th of January, my car thermometer registered an outside temperature of 52F!

Normally, at this time of year we are putting a lot of effort into keeping our chickens warm.  With our average January temperatures usually in the teens, it can be a real challenge.  Not this year – not so far.

This year the chickens are having a really great winter.  They typically will not set foot outside the coop once there is snow on the ground.

In the bright sunshine and fifty degree temperatures today however, they enjoyed several hours of free-ranging around the farm.

They cover a lot of ground scratching, pecking, eating, or whatever they are doing, as they wander around the yard, into the woods, and through the gardens.

After the new hens from this spring started laying egg in the fall, we culled the old laying hens.  Down to just ten hens, we gave two away to Jesse’s brother, and then lost one to some sort of predator.  So, we now have only seven laying hens.

They are really dazzling and healthy looking birds.  All of them are prolific layers.  With our oldest away at school (he ate a lot of eggs), we can’t keep up with eating all of their eggs and we so we try to give some away when we can.

The black speckled hen on the left below is a Barred Rock and she lays brown eggs.

This gal is one of our three Araucana hens.  I always try to make sure we have at least one Araucana because I love the spectacular light blue and green eggs that they lay.

The white hen is a Light Brahma.  The feathered feet on this breed are so cute.  And even better, they are very reliable brown egg layers throughout the winter.

We ordered this assortment of laying hens last spring from Murray McMurray Hatchery, like we always do.  We have never been disappointed by the chicks we receive from them.  Our plan is to order more chicks for this spring – a few more laying hens and some meat birds.

It sounds as though our warm weather might end in the next few days.  Snow is predicted to fall as early as tomorrow and the chickens will inevitably choose to stay in the confines of their coop until the ground is bare once again.  Based on our winter so far, I am hoping they won’t have to wait until spring.

Lynell

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Pesky Free-Rangers

We have put a lot of work into restoring our chicken coop from its original dilapidated condition.  The result is a very solid, safe, comfortable and cute home for our chickens.  Despite their fancy digs, our chickens love being outside any time there is not snow on the ground.

They spend hours wandering around, digging and laying in the dirt, eating grass, bugs and just doing their chicken thing.  I like the “idea” of having free-ranging chickens and I enjoy seeing them meandering around the farm.

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Filed under Animals, Chicken coop, Chickens, Outbuildings