Penny- a blue splash Wyandotte Hen

I love Mondays.  Mondays often get such a bad reputation, but around here I love them.  Due to the nature of our business, Tony and I are usually working on Saturdays.  Now, it is usually very enjoyable- teaching a workshop on herbs or composting, selling our herbs at a Farmer’s Market or First Monday, or some other farming activity- yet it is still work.  Sundays are our days of rest, very little house work gets done and that isn’t done until the evening.

But come Monday, I am at home doing laundry, preparing the schedules for the week, getting our home school plans laid out, and generally putting the house back together.  I get a deep sense of satisfaction when we all sit down to a good meal at the end of a Monday knowing that my house is in order, my family is provided for and we are happy.  Like it or not, as mothers the atmosphere of the home rests on us.  How our week is going to go has everything to do with what I do on Monday.  So, I love Mondays.

Now, what about Tuesday?  This Tuesday was a day for me to catch up on my chicken chores.  I do love my chickens, they are such funny creatures and very productive.  It used to be that Monday was also my day to clean out nest boxes and do general house keeping chores in the hen house, however, as the needs of the human house have grown I have had to move that chore.  To be honest, it has been a bit neglected as of late.

Many folks believe that a chicken house stinks.  Well, if all you know is a commercial enterprise with way to many birds in a locked down area then yes, it does stink to high heaven.  But, when chickens are given plenty of room, deep bedding and time to get out of the coop and scratch for bugs- there will be basically no smell.  I know when it is time to add more litter and bedding to the coop floor when I start to notice the hen house with my nose.  So, old hay, dead plant matter, fallen leaves, straw are then dumped in the floor in piles and the chickens will spread it around quite nicely.  Given enough time, those girls will shred it, mix it, compost it, and add there own special “fertilizer” to the mix.  They are first rate composters.  They benefit from the antibacterial properties of compost, the heat in the winter given off from the breakdown of the organic matter, and the good bugs that come in to help compost get eaten by the birds adding organic protein to their diet.  I benefit by having some first rate compost to add to my gardens- not to mention the tastiest eggs you ever had!

So, with muckers on my feet and a mask on my face (no matter how well managed a flock is, there will always be dust) I was busily cleaning out the old litter from the nesting boxes and breaking up the compacted litter on the floor with my trusty shovel.  I found a new use for the cardboard that makes its way onto our farm.  It is great for putting in the nesting boxes to keep the fresh litter from dropping through the air holes in the bottom of the nesting boxes.  This saves the girls in the lower row of boxes from getting showered with shavings or little bits of hay. Once the cardboard has served its purpose it can go directly to the compost pile and become a piece in the organic gardening chain.  I have also began to add surplus herbs to the boxes and coop floor.  This adds nutrients to the girls diet and add a fresh scent to the coop.

Now, I was in need of some new litter for the hen house floor.  Usually, by this time of year I have plenty of leaves to rake and deposit in the coop.  However, due to the drought we suffered summer before last, we have lost quite a few trees.  It seems that the trees we lost were the first to loose their leaves in the fall because there weren’t enough leaves on the ground to  do the job.  Then I remembered that I had 3 bags of leaves left from my curb raiding last winter.  I will stop and throw bags of leaves into my truck that have been left at the curb to go to the landfill.  You know you may have crossed some sort of threshold when your composting habits cause you to so such things.  But, I need organic matter and the landfill does not- so why waste those wonderful leaves?

While I was busy emptying the bags and congratulating myself on being so clever, I failed to notice that the last bag was filled with ants.  I was completely unaware until I was bit on my hand- inside my glove- that I had a problem.  When I looked down I had ants all over my boots and my jeans.  Thus began the dance to get them off.  To anyone who may have seen me I am sure I looked goofier that any of my birds!  Once I began feeling bites under my shirt I gave up on knocking them off and made a beeline for the house.  Shucking any and all clothing permissible on the porch, I lost know time getting inside to shed the rest.

You see, once I felt the bite under my shirt all I could think about was the possibility that I could have ants biting me on parts of my person that do not ever see sunlight.  Only mildly crossing my brain was the thought that I should not strip completely down in the utility room due to the fact that my eleven year old son was somewhere in the house and I did not want him scared for life.  I did make it to my bedroom before I was finally free of my ant infested clothing.  Thankfully, I only suffered a few bites under my clothing and none where the sun don’t shine!

A silver laced Wyandotte looking for bugs with her friends. They will also eat ants, so I will though a bunch of scratch into the coop and those ants won’t know what hit them!

 

So what is your favorite day of the week?  Do you have the joy of having farm animals?  If so, what are they?

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