Fall at the Farm
Fall has arrived at the farm, and we have been busy trying to finish up our outdoor projects. I’ve picked the last of the summer veggies, planted the garlic, and started preparing my new pumpkin bed for next year. I did the final bee hive inspection of the year which involved removing a few frames of honey from the hive that stored the most honey this year and putting them into the hive that didn’t put away as much honey to make sure that both hives have enough honey to get them through the winter. I also put a piece of burlap covered with pine shavings in the top of the hives to help absorb condensation and keep the hive from getting too moist over the winter. We also got a huge truckload of 30 yards of wood shavings delivered to spread in the muddy areas over the winter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my chicken keeping adventures, it’s that rain + chicken poop + bare ground can be quite a mess and is not healthy for chickens, and now with the addition of the turkeys we have a noticeable increase in poop! With an especially rainy winter predicted for this year I’ll need to keep on top of manure management, and the huge pile of wood shavings will be an important part of keeping the pasture in good condition.
We added a new project to our fall chores this year, which was rototilling and reseeding the upper chicken pasture. It’s been 2-1/2 years since we started using that pasture, and the constant scratching and pecking by the chickens has definitely taken its toll. The grass has been overgrazed in areas, weeds that the chickens don’t like to eat have become established, and there are lots of bare areas with deep holes from the chickens dust bathing. We decided to move all of the ladies off the upper pasture until next spring or summer when the grass should be reestablished. Half the ladies will remain in the upper chicken yard where there is a large coop and secure run, as well as a smaller temporary pasture that we set up for them. Our favorite ladies will stay up above, these include Rhoda, Raquel, Rosie, Ruby, Twitchy, Squeeky 2, Buttercup, Reina, Grace, and Violet’s chicks from last summer – Rosalie, Dusky, and Midnight (you may notice that Ramona is missing from this list, and I’m sorry to say that she passed away a few weeks ago at 5 years of age from an unknown cause).
We moved the other half of the ladies, basically the unnamed ladies, and Brown Rooster down to the lower pasture where Ramon, his ladies and the turkeys live. The lower pasture has the coop we built for the turkeys that they do not use, and we decided this could easily accommodate half of the flock from the upper chicken yard. The lower pasture is not quite as secure as the upper pasture in terms of predator protection, so we decided to move the chickens that are not quite as friendly down to the lower pasture. There have been a few sparring matches between Brown Rooster and Ramon, but nothing too serious, and I’m hoping that they can learn to avoid each other and coexist over the winter. Interestingly, the turkeys seem to be acting as peacemakers of sorts and tend to break up some of the rooster interactions. Time will tell, and I am keeping a watchful eye over everyone to make sure that this experiment is a success.