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  (Fort Walton Beach, Florida)
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Chickens, Chickens, Everywhere

Today we have more open ground than snow covered turf and the chickens are out of the coop and back at work.  Reddy was out in the front pasture before it was even fully light this morning.  I don't think she trusts that the snow won't come back and so she isn't missing any opportunity to get out and scratch and dig.

 The hens are all working and turning the ground, doing an excellent job of de-thatching the lawn after its been packed down under the snow and ice for the last five months. We have ten acres that run deep from the frontage on the road to the back cattle pasture and my flock cover every inch of it. The Rhode Island Reds take the prize for being the widest ranging so far of all the breeds we've tried.

This year's new flock will be Buckeyes and we have not had them before.  They will be going into the mobile coop that will be stationed inside the back fenced pasture with the cattle. They will have a fence around them to keep the cows out of their coop but I expect they will range well beyond it's confines once they mature.  We had Ebony Star constantly climbing into the chicken coop or removing the stairs last year so we will put up a fence to keep miss cat-like-cow out of the in pasture chicken year this season.

We decided to try Buckeyes this year because they are on the threatened list and need to have breeding flocks established and so I am going to try to do that this year.  They are heavy feathered, brown egg layers and good at mousing and foraging by report so I think they should be perfect for our climate and scenario.  We shall see.  They are also the one breed of American chicken started by a woman.

Our wild birds are back too and I can't wait till it is warm enough to start opening the windows in the morning because our acreage is alive with sound again.  It is such a contrast to the quiet of winter.  The chickens are constantly calling to each other about each worm they find, and the pine tree tops each sport a red winged blackbird setting up territory for the season.  There are grackles and chickadees and downy and hairy woodpeckers too.  Ahh, it is spring!


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