Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “dirt”

Chicken Fever

So, um… this might have happened today:

Two new chicks. What can I say? I had to stop for more chick feed, and there they were. Calling to me. Peep, peep, peep. My mom wanted leghorns, but they didn’t have any. In fact, they were almost out of chicks entirely (but they had a ton of ducklings and goslings—don’t even get me started on ducklings and goslings—you cannot even begin to know the strength of my restraint from that absolute cuteness), but they did have some Delawares. And wouldn’t you know it, but Delawares are on my list of chickens that I’d like to raise (along with Australorps, Buckeyes, Dominiques, Javas, and Sussex). How perfect!

They are only about 2.5 weeks old, but the guy who heads up the poultry section assured me that there would be no problem introducing the new chicks with the older Buff Orpingtons, and indeed, they get along just fine.  These two are actually very self-assured, curious, and not intimidated by the bigger chicks at all (not that the other chicks are that much bigger). And they are so pretty.

But you know what I’ve learned about chicks? They are super messy. Like, messy on steroids. I cleaned out their brooder pen and put everything in fresh—new bedding, new water, new food, new dish of dirt, and then I put all the chicks in. 5 minutes later (and not a minute more), their pen looked like this. So imagine what it looks like now. For realz.

Yes, that is a Buff Orpington on top of the feed jar.

Speaking of cleaning and chickens. I spring cleaned the big chicken house yesterday and today:

All the old bedding (and chicken poo) went out into the compost pile (which is now mighty), everything was scrubbed down with vinegar/water with a little dash of lemon essential oil, and then aired out.  Two words to make your chicken house cleaning way better: hinged roost. Brilliant idea (thanks, dad!) Lift that baby up, lock it in place, and the worst part of the coop is completely accessible and clean in no time. Today, I sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the floor and in the nesting boxes, spread fresh new bedding, and added some lovely rosemary and lavendar to the nesting boxes.  Because apparently chickens love herbs. And that makes me love them even more.

I think the chickens approve of their clean house.

Actually, it was like an episode of Clean House, lol. I locked the chickens out in their yard while I worked, and so the whole deal was a surprise for them. It was fun watching them during the ‘great reveal’. They were all about exploring their new digs.

This was a big job. I don’t know that I would have been so excited about it, except that by chance I found a website 3 days ago that totally fired me up, and I feel the need to tell the whole world about my favoritest new chicken blog ever in the history of the history: Fresh Eggs Daily. Lisa has created such a lovely and wonderful site that teaches how to raise chickens and ducks naturally. I love, love, love this line-up of posts on what she calls ‘The Basics‘, which was the fuel and inspiration behind my chicken house clean-up supplies—the DE, and the herbs, as well as the minced garlic, dirt for grit, probiotics, and raw apple cider vinegar in the water. So much good information. I’m implementing all the things and already see happier chicks and chickens. In addition to the chicken and duck guides, Lisa writes about other favoritest topics: gardening and herbalism. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Fresh Eggs Daily.

Chickens FTW!

 

 

A Hope-filled Plan: Dye Garden

For all the successes that I’ve had with welcoming volunteers into our yard, our raised bed gardens have failed miserably the last couple years.  In all fairness, the weather in St. Louis is shit for most of the “growing season”.  Last summer we had record droughts, a truly inhumane number of days over 100F, and record lows for the Mississippi river (which are still in effect).  I planted radishes in the beginning of June that finally germinated a month later and didn’t grow an inch until mid-September.  The harvest, if I’d picked it, would have come in October.  I kid you not.  Radishes typically go from seed to harvest in roughly a month.  That should tell you how bad it was.

So this year, I’m doing something totally different.  I’m planning a dye garden instead.  Who needs food, anyway?  It’s kind of surprising how few places have a fully stocked catalog of dye plants.  I ended up ordering seeds from 2 different places—The Woolery and Horizon Herbs.  After I’d already ordered from the other two, I found this shop.  Harold has a great assortment of seeds!  I look forward to ordering from this shop in the future.

Here’s what I got:

  1. Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)
  2. Madder (Rubia tinctorum)
  3. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
  4. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  5. Our Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum)
  6. Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
  7. Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
  8. Dyer’s Woodruff (Asperula tinctoria)
  9. Woad (Isatis tinctoria)
  10. Weld (Reseda luteola)

I’m hoping to add black hollyhock, coreopsis, and blue false indigo to the list, as well.  To my knowledge, none of the above plants are native to my region, although many have been naturalized.  However, coreopsis (coreopsis tinctoria) and false indigo (baptisia australis) are. There is a variety of nettle native to North America, but I didn’t find it offered at either of the seed companies I used.  My hope is to eventually have a dyer’s garden that is at least in part native varieties.  I already have pokeweed, goldenrod, and elderberry growing in my yard, and I’m trying to figure out what else I can grow.  The majority of native dye plants from this region (that I know of) are trees.  Not the easiest thing to toss into an urban garden.  But I think this will be a good start.  I kind of missed the boat for planting native seeds this year—most need a good period of wet/cold to germinate, and the recommended time to plant is in December or the very beginning of January.  I am hoping to add a number of native varieties this spring, though, by ordering actual plants  The very excellent (and friendly) Missouri Wildflowers Nursery sells both seed and plants.  My wish list is loooooooooong.  Lol.

Now, where to put it all…

Do any of you have dyer’s gardens?  What do you grow?  Any growing tips?  I’d love to hear!

Live happy, dye happy!  And get dirty!

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