Greenleaf Chickens

  (Forest City, Pennsylvania)
free ranging chickens good enough to eat
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Rainy and gray

Yesterday was bright and sunny.  A glorious day and I was able to get a lot of cleanup in the yard done.  As I lifted some of the broken wood up, I could see the frost and ice underneath.  While obviously Spring thaw is happening, it will be another 3 weeks before you can actually dig and plant the seeds that I am starting in the basement.

The growing season is unfortunately very short so I am looking for making some type of greenhouse outside -- lots of problems there though.  First there is the obvious problem of the chickens, that's always a problem.  Next after them is the wildlife -- last summer we had a large brutish raccoon patrolling the area, fat on garbage, but there are always rabbits and bear lurking about.  Some say that there are also deer though I cannot say I have seen any but all of these critters pose trouble for vegetables.

While getting the wood for the "greenhouse" is not a problem, get the manpower is, so I am looking for something easier to setup instead.  

Today it is a gray and rainy.  A drab brownish day though at 35F, still fairly warm considering the horrendous subzero days we had this past winter.  But with the ground so wet and muddy, not a day very conducive to doing much out there, so I think I will take my seeds and starts some more in the basement.

Sorry I cannot put up any pictures, LH seems to be snarky today.  I guess the weather has gotten it too./sep 

Brahmas Gone

It was a difficult decision because we decided to get rid of the flock of Brahmas we have -- all five of them.  They were nice birds, very genial and friendly.  Not one of them was ever really broody except for Loki and she was the poorest brood hen I ever saw, so from the egg laying perspective they were great layers.  

Two things though for us though were problematic.  The first was that they were real roamers.  No one did we read this, no one ever mentioned it, but we discovered always accidentally, our Brahma girls travelling all around the neighborhood.  It did not bother me at all.  I felt that they were doing a good service picking up bugs from the neighbors lawns and fertilizing them as they go, but the neighbors did not like it.  In fact one neighbor complained mightily about Loki and her little flock -- she always travelled the  team that she had raised, mainly Brahma hens like herself -- "soiling" her lawn.

I thought that funny because before I bought the birds, I had paid good money for fertilizer to nourish my vegetables and to be honest that was the one thing that I was rather suspicious about -- the girls picking up chemicals from other yards -- but this woman did not like it, so we put up a fence.

The fence has worked remarkably well but the Brahmas did not care for it and the minute there was a breach they would run for it and next thing I knew they were everywhere.  Herding them back was also problematic -- they could hide well so sometimes I had to go out with broom and torch searching for them.

The second thing that gave the Brahmas their death knell was their being upgraded by the Livestock Conservancy from "Threatened" to "Watch."

The Livestock Conservancy, one of the many poultry outfits for the preservation of "heritage" breeds, tracks how well each breed does each year as they recover from the years of agribusiness manipulation to create the best layer breed ever.  This has caused great changes in each breed, mainly in their ability to deal with strong weather conditions like we had this past winter (the Brahma girls were champs btw) as well as their ability to reproduce naturally -- most production girls are artificially inseminated and so many breeds have very low natural reproduction rates.

So we decided if we could, to sell the Brahmas as an unit.  I really did not want to break the five of them up unless I was forced to, and luckily a good family from Binghamton came down on a sunny day and carted them away.  Still I miss them, they were so sweet.

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