Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Down Home

My computer has not been cooperating with me, so I apologize about the spans between posts. I seem to be back in business for the now, so to fill you in on our latest farm happenings...

Last Saturday, I requested a "Sonja day"- a day where what I say goes. We do the projects weighing on my mind, be they large or small and with an enthusiastic "Yes, Ma'am" from Sean, all my wishes are granted. *Sigh* I love "Sonja Day". The projects weighing on my mind filled a sheet of paper and I knew the chances of completing all of them would be slim, but to have any of them finished would be wonderful. "Sonja Day" turned into "Sonja Weekend". I am so thankful for my hard-working husband and so proud of how much Sean and I accomplished together.

Among other things, we spent Saturday morning in our ministry work. During the morning break, we stopped in at the Brooks Farmer's Market. In part, I wanted to do some shopping AND I wanted to scope out the set up with a view for possibly joining the market myself next year. So many wonderful treats were available; yarns, pepperoni, lamb, hamburg, veggies, plants, eggs... the variety of things available was impressive! And, I noticed a sign advertising that the whole market participated in the SNAP (click for more information) Program offered by the State of Maine. Additionally, because of a grant, anyone who paid using their SNAP card, received an additional 50% discount from the total price. Organic Home Grown Hamburg at $4.50/lb became $2.25/lb. Apples for sale for $1.50/lb became only .75¢/lb. One of the biggest complaints I hear about eating healthy, organic food is its cost. With programs like this one, that is no longer an argument. I was so impressed with the entire operation. I know that for my family, we will be visiting more farmer's markets through the growing season to support our local farming families. You can visit this Farmer's Market on FACE BOOK (click here).

After that wonderful adventure, it was time for our scheduled thorough clean out of the chicken coop. This entails removing all the old bedding and composted waste, washing the floors, and replacing the bedding. We are still searching for what works the best for us. After reading articles on using hay vs straw vs pine shavings vs river sand vs deep litter systems vs deep composting litter systems (the list is nearly endless with possibilities) and trying some of these methods with varying amounts of success, we have decided to change back to using untreated pine shavings on the floor of the coop and straw in the nest boxes. It has worked for our hens in the past without causing respiratory issues and it seems to be the easiest to clean regularly... for now.

That messy job complete, we turned our attention to other matters. I mowed the back lawn and blew all the clippings into piles while Sean worked on repairing and repurposing the unused goat kid fencing to expand the main chicken coop yard. Last winter, we had only 20 birds and their yard measured approximately 15ft x 25 ft. When the piggies moved to their new home, we opened the fencing to expand the yard to approximately 30 ft x 25 ft in space. At mid summer, we added an additional two 10 foot panels to enlarge the yard. This weekend, Sean and I added another two 15 foot panels, which nearly doubled their yard size again. Our feathered friends now enjoy a safe fenced yard area measuring roughly 45 ft x 30 ft. It is a huge yard and they are very happy to have it.

We spent a lot of time with our chickens, ducks, and geese over the weekend, but rest assured, I'll have a nice long post about our goats progress in the days to come. ♥

Controversial Topics: Feeding Cut Grass

This came up over the weekend. We mow our grass on a mulching setting, which produces very tiny clippings of grass. We hand rake the fresh grass clippings and deposit them in a pile in the main coop yard. The birds love to nibble on the freshly cut untreated and unfertilized, grasses, dandelions, and clovers and spread it all around, scratching in it. It also provides a more attractive ground cover than the inevitable compacted dirt. Sound great, right? Except, grass clippings can cause potentially lethal complications of impacting a chicken's crop if the cut grasses are fed in strands. When chickens free range, they nip off tiny bits from the top of the grass, which is easily digestible for them. Even blades of grass 4-5 inches long can cause problems. CLICK for more information. So, while we do feed clippings to our chickens, we cannot recommend that you do this. Each chicken keeper needs to weigh the benefits of offering fresh greens with the possible dangers.

Have you had any positive or negative experiences regarding feeding grass clippings to your flocks?

I hope you enjoyed today's visit here on the farm. Thanks for stopping by!
Sean and Sonja ♥

REMINDER: If you haven't become a member and commented on THIS POST (click here), you need to do so before October 1st to be entered into the free drawing for Mrs. Cherie's lovely hand made donated quilt.


  1. Thank you for posting about feeding grass clippings to your chickens. We used to do this but noticed several were having issues with impacted crops, so we stopped. I do feel like it is a danger unless it is cut up very small like yours is.

    They love it so much that one time I resorted to cutting up the blades of grass with scissors so they could have a yummy treat. But I only did that once haha.

    1. I can picture you sitting outside, cutting your grass clipping into tiny pieces with scissors for your ladies. :)

  2. Love the idea of a sonja day, except mine would have to be a shell day. But it'd be hard to convince everyone at my house to go along with it lol.

    We do give our birds grass clippings occassionally. Luckily, we haven't had any problems yet.

  3. Really enjoyed the video!

  4. Great video. I am glad the chickens are happy with their bigger yard and clean house. Speaking of, I need to get off the internets and tidy up.