Fall Feathering

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Dear sisters,

Where did October go? It seems like we just turned the page on September and here we are in FULL fall feathering mode! What does that mean for the Beach Farmgirl exactly? In this case, it means cleaning the chicken coop! This is one of my FAVORITE farmgirl chores! It makes me feel good inside to know my girls will be safe and warm should the weather take a sudden turn for the worst. It is hurricane season in New England, after all. Come on in and visit with the girls and I while we clean and cluck through our fall feathering chores.

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Here they are coming up to say hello and see if I brought any kitchen scraps with me. Our flock has shrunk to only 6. We’ve lost a couple or our sweet girls this year. One of our senior citizen hens died of old age and another was frightened out of the chicken run by a coyote that was rushing fence in the wee hours of the morning. We heard some unusually loud clucking noises and by the time we were out of bed and dressed to go downstairs all we could see were Liza Jane’s feathers scattered all over the back lawn. Our run is over 8 feet tall and was only partially covered on one end at the time. We’ve since remedied that! Losing one of our special girls was a hard price to pay for not finishing that chore when we started it.

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Our coop has one entry door located on the inside of the run. The bottom of our coop is covered in vinyl flooring that has been stapled to the plywood floor. All I need is a rake to pull out the pine shavings. Then I sweep out the floor and get the cobwebs out of all the nooks and crannies with a broom. I have to shoo the girls out of the coop before I can rake out the shavings which always ruffles their feathers a bit. I get it! I don’t like being shooed either! You can tell by the looks of the litter in the photo above that it’s time. It’s wasted down to a couple of inches and loaded with feathers. I change it out every three months rain, shine, or snow! We have a large run so I just rake the old shavings right out onto the ground, away from the coop entry and move it to a far corner where the girls can scratch in it and it will compost further. Then, come springtime I go in with a shovel fill my wheelbarrow with fresh compost ready to be mixed in to soil for my container gardening, raised beds or spread atop my established perennial gardens.

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I like to use a full bale of pine shavings each time I replace the bedding. It gives the girls a nice deep bed to take their dust baths in on wet or snowy days and it soaks up the droppings in the rear of the coop under the roosts. Plus, it insulates the floor keeping them nice and warm during the colder months.

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During the hottest days of summer I open the door do the coop and let it air out all day until the girls put themselves to bed at dusk.

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I get a kick out of how cautious they are about going back inside the coop after it’s all clean! They stretch their necks to they can see inside then turn their heads from side to side before jumping back in. So cute!

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The nesting boxes hang off the back of the coop with a flip-top roof that makes collecting eggs easy!

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Here’s Lacy Lou ” nesting ” on a clutch of eggs destined for a yummy quiche or baking.

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Once I have the inside of the coop cleaned and replenished with fresh shavings I like to add something festive to decorate the front of the coop. It’s the least I can do for the girls after all those delicious eggs they provide for our family! I do something a little different each year. I’ve used silk flowers in the past because they add a nice pop of lasting color on the window but this year I decided to go native and create a fresh seasonal arrangement from my garden. I cut some branches from my oak leaf hydrangea, a bridal white hydrangea blossom with the first blush of faded purple on the tips of the petals, some autumn sedum joy that is already a beautiful deep purple color and a few feathery ornamental grass plums. I tucked all of the cuttings into a mason jar filled with water and then put the jar inside the container.

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There! Now it’s time to relax around the fire and have some hot cider!

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My hubby got the wood ready for us, but it’s been raining for three days so we couldn’t light it. :( We’ll just have to pretend it’s lit and warming our tootsies while we drink our hot cider.

We love Trader Joe’s Mulling spices for making our hot spiced cider.

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Here’s our family recipe!

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1 quart apple cider ( not juice)
2 cups cranberry juice
1 navel orange ( or 2-3 clementines ) sliced
4 -5 heaping Tablespoons of  Trader Joe’s Mulling Spices
Small piece of cheese cloth
Wrap spices in cheese cloth and add it to your cider mix.
Once you’ve added all of the ingredients to your crock pot set it to the highest setting for the first few hours, then lower the temp and let it simmer for the rest of the day.*You can also substitute Cinnamon sticks for mulling spices in a pinch!
Start a batch in the crock pot ( or  large sauce pan ) early in the morning. By noon time you’ll have something to sip that’ll take the chill off your bones and warm you to your toes!
Until our next shoreline visit~ cluck… cluck…
Beach Blessings and much love,
Deb xo  # 1199

 

Leave a comment 12 Comments

  1. Adrienne says:

    What a lovely chore you do for your ladies and I know they appreciate it once they get over the novelty of a fresh floor. When I make wassail, I use apple cider, sliced oranges, sliced lemon, cinnamon sticks, and for the spices in a reusable teabag: star anise, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. It’s almost time to make a batch and have my new apartment smell tasty.

    • Deb Bosworth says:

      I love wassail! Thanks for sharing your recipe too… it sounds yummy! Congrats on the new apartment too, Adrienne. Bay area, right?

  2. Oh Deb I just love your chicken coop. I think when we build ours maybe I’ll try to get my husband to copy it just a little bit!! :-) Our coop in Utah was really nice but honestly it was too big – they spent their entire day free -ranging and only were in there to lay and roost! I really like your nests having the flip top on the outside. And yes, it is so funny how suspicious they are of a clean house! Loved this post – someday I’m going to come visit you and your chickens! – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

    • Deb Bosworth says:

      Thanks, Dori! Well, perhaps I can put together some dimensions of our coop for you :) Because it was all built out of reclaimed materials on the fly one weekend there never was a real plan for it… but I can give you overall measurements for height, width, where the vents are, door openings, nesting box, the roof and placement of the roosting bars. I’m sure you guy’s could improve on the design some with your skills as well!
      One thing I would do differently is have another opening at the rear of the coop. The girls have made it their bathroom ( eh hem ) and it’s difficult to get everything out with my rake. I have to crawl in and use a garden shovel to scoop out the droppings a couple of times a year, but that’s when I dust and Windex the windows so they sparkle! And, I’m holding you to that visit! I’m comin’ to see you too! :)

  3. It’s that time of the year!! I clean my girl’s coop last weekend. Almost all ready for winter. The door to the coop is chicken wire so I will need to cover it with clear plastic soon. They do have there door to the secure outdoor pen. They are locked in for this weekend for I will be out of town. Must keep them safe when gone!! Normally they free range all day long nad get locked in at night. Love you fall decor on the door. I guess mine aren’t quite that spoiled, hee-hee!
    I have to agree on Trader Joe’s spice mix, yum, yum!!

    • Deb Bosworth says:

      Hi June, Your girls are lucky ( spoiled ) they get to roam all day! Wish I could let mine out, but it’s just to risky here. Great to hear from you Junebug! xo Deb

  4. Dena says:

    Hi Deb, Thanks for that wonderful description of ‘coop care’. It gives me some ideas for my own ‘girls’. I wanted to ask what kind of birds you have; they are beautiful! I love chickens with a variety of colors and markings and yours fit the bill. I hope to get some new hens next spring and am still trying to decide what kind to get. Hope yours aren’t all mixed breeds! Sometimes the prettiest ones are and are impossible to duplicate. Thanks. Happy Fall – can’t wait to try that yummy recipe! Hugs, Dena

    • Deb Bosworth says:

      Hi there, Dena! My girls are called Easter Egger’s. They lay the prettiest blue and green eggs, and come in a multitude of feather patterns. They have little beards and side muffs and are the sweetest girls…They are great backyard chickens and very kind and gentle. We love them! Here’s Wikipedia’s definition, but if you google Easter Egger chickens you’ll get lots more info there! Good luck with your new babies in the spring! Deb
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Egger

  5. Dena says:

    Too funny; that’s the kind I had decided to buy for those very reasons! Glad to see they live up to their reputation for being multi colored and gentle. I’m looking at Ideal Poultry. Where did you get yours? I’ve seen many different companies selling these birds and since they come in a variety of colors it would be helpful to get personal recommendations! Thanks a bunch – Dena

  6. Donna Phelps says:

    Cute post! Id love to get the Mr Phelps to build a coop for me…someday :)

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