As the hours of daylight wane with the sun’s march toward Winter, the time that I have to get up to let the chickens out gets later and later. Chickens always get up with the sun. I always get up at about 4:45 a.m. to cook breakfast for Bud, iron his shirt and pack his lunch, but during Fall and Winter I get to sleep in on the weekends since the chickens sleep late.
This morning, I awoke with a start. Something was wrong! I could feel it. My head shot up, I sucked in my breath, grabbed my alarm clock and pulled it closer so that I could see what time it was. It was 6:30 a.m.! I jumped out of bed, my adrenaline rushing, and I yelled out, “HONEY! I think I overslept!”
I could hear his voice. I noticed the light was on in ‘the man cave’ and stumbled in, squinting against the bright light. Bud was at his computer, and reassured me that he had let me sleep in. He had woken up early on his own, and fixed his own breakfast so I could sleep in a little. Today is ‘casual’ day at work, so he wore a t-shirt and he took last night’s leftovers in his lunch. I love that man. That is my entry into my Gratitude Journal today.
I have tried to spare y’all of doting posts about my chickens, but my chickens are my favorite subject. They keep me moving on the hard days that feel like I’m traversing thick sludge on my path toward the end of the day. They can make me smile, even on my worst days.
I have mentioned before that we got these chickens at the Feed Store, and that is not advisable. You have no idea what their genetics are like, how well they have been taken care of, or what their health is like. This has been a flock that is prone to illness, most likely because their first months of life were spent in dirty, overcrowded conditions.
I have been trying to find ways that I can boost their immune systems. Sometimes I will put vitamins and electrolytes into their water, but lately, I’ve been putting a Tablespoon per gallon of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Bragg’s is a brand name I like to buy. It has ‘the mother’ in it, which is used to culture the apple cider, and it retains all of the vitamins, minerals, etc., that are missing in the pasteurized ACV. It’s supposed to aid digestion, and has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It’s good for chickens with lung ailments (which chickens are prone to) as it thins mucous secretions.
Sprouts are high in vitamins, and though I have never given the chickens sprouts, I’ve read that they love them. I just learned an easy way to do it. I had always used a mason jar with a special lid to do sprouts, but learned of a new method that I’m trying.
Put the beans or seeds in a colander that will fit inside a bowl. Completely cover the seeds or beans that you want to sprout with water. Cover with a towel, and soak them overnight. In the morning, lift the colander out of the water, and rinse the beans.
From this point on, you will need to keep them out of water and draining, and exposed to light, but you need to rinse them twice a day. Keep doing this until the sprouts are as big as you want them. I’m going to cover them overnight since it will be dark anyway.
After the first night of soaking, you can already start to see tiny little nubs of sprouts coming out.
I decided to put some wood shavings underneath the chickens’ favorite bush. This is where they like to lounge. In no time at all, they had them all over the place. Chickens can’t resist a pile o’ stuff. It just begs to be dug into.
I’ve heard that hay used as bedding material can easily mold. I use the wood shavings in the hen house, and though they like it under their bush, it’s not a good long term solution. I have used pine needles in the past, but we don’t have enough right now. I might investigate to see if I can find some straw, which is less inclined to mold. For now, they seem to be enjoying the nice fluffy bed under the bush instead of the dirt.
I have a confession to make. Before I do, I should let you know that the rumor I’ve heard is true: Chickens are addicting. You always want more. I have been wanting more for a long time. We started with 8 hens, and we have lost two due to illness. These hens are about 3 years old, and though they are still laying, that is past their egg-laying prime. Most people cull the flock when their best years are over. There is no way that I will cull. These hens will be with me until the good Lord takes them.
Someone on Bud’s Facebook apparently got the Chicken Addiction, too, and she advertised that she needs someone to take some of them because it’s more than she can handle. I can easily see how this can happen, so I’m not judging. Bud is the only thing that keeps me in check with my chicken addiction. When Bud read to me his FB friend’s status update about needing to let some of her chickens go, my whole body started buzzing, and my brain started spinning. CHICKENS! I wanted them ALL, but Bud drew the line at 3. Needless to say, I’m very excited! We are going to pick them up on Saturday.
“Lord, I commit my day to You and ask You to be in charge of it from beginning to end. Enable me to do all I need to do successfully and well. Thank You that You are in control of all that happens—including all of the surprises and the unexpected. I know I cannot do what I need to do in my day without Your help.” ~Stormie O’Martian