Monday, June 27, 2011


We have planted our vegetable garden! Over the weekend we finished turning over the garden and even planted our plants. We purchased San Marzano tomato plants for canning and just planted our seedlings. Based on the size of the tomato plants, you can see how far behind we were with our seeds... this only means we will have a shorter season. We changed the way we laid out the plants this year and hopefully it won't be so crowded like last year. We also scaled back on a few things compared to last year since we had way to much squash and zucchini last year. I think it will work out much better this year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Coming Along

So the vegetable garden is not all turned over yet. With the coop and Father's Day it was a busy weekend. I am almost finished but I still have about 1/3 to go. I should be able to get it done within the next few days... then adding compost and then planting! Should be done before July... I hope. :/

Coop is installed!

Aaron spent the majority of father's day installing the coop. We sank some blocks into the ground for our foundation and to deter and digging predators. We did the same thing around the run... which is small but it's only for when we aren't home. Since I am a stay at home Mom, this isn't too often. We will be fencing off our side yard for them to free range but will also let them out into the entire yard when we both Aaron and I are home. There are still a few things that need to be done before the chickens come but we are well on our way. We also purchased some supplies this weekend such as the feeder and waterer for the chicks as well as some chick starter. July 5th is coming up fast and I want to be sure we are ready for out chooks!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Robin's Nest.

All early spring we watched a Robin build her nest in a bush in our backyard. Then we watched her sit in that nest for a short while. Then we found little blue shells in our grass. Then we saw little beaks in that same nest. Then little heads and necks were attached to those beaks. Now, within 2 weeks of seeing those little beaks there are big birds that barely fit in that same nest. One decided to land on our window sill for a while. Then Mommy came and they flew off into our yard together. Right after Mommy fed Baby a worm. Love Birds!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coop Progress

The coop is fully assembled and caulked. Aaron and I just need to figure out how we are going to lay out the area in the backyard.We cannot decide where to put the coop or compost bin. I think we will need to get the coop out there and move it around and see what looks best.

seeds... finally!

Sheer laziness had prevented me from starting my seeds... until today! Only 5 days left of spring and I actually went and planted my seeds and have them under the lamp. I may move them from the basement to outdoors during nice weather, but today it is raining so I will leave them in for now. I didn't turn over any more of the garden today since we have rain but it WILL get done. Once the dirt is turned over we will get some compost and add that in. Once our seedlings get going we will move them into the garden and then we will be in business!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Half way there...

I am making, what I consider, good headway on the vegetable garden. I have successfully turned over half. I had my little helper Owen and we tackled one side of the garden. My arms feel like gumby since I haven't done that much yard work since before having my kids... its funny what 4 years of pregnancy and nursing will do to a woman. It did feel good to get some work done, my goal is to finish turning over the dirt and plant within the next 2 weeks. It's always better late than never!

Vegetable garden... or lack there of.

A month ago or so Aaron had gone outside and weeded the vegetable garden... we still haven't planted yet so the weeds are starting to come back. Yesterday I got out there and weeded for a bit and I think today I will be simply turning the soil over since the weeds left are very small and not worth picking. I looked around a bit yesterday for some plants but where I had looked had slim pickins! Serves us right for waiting until spring is almost over! I am going to plant some seeds tomorrow, if all goes as planned. If we wait any longer it won't happen so I need to get started! It's been a struggle this year with both kids and my husband has been focused on the chicken coop the past week so it's really up to me at this point. I am home all day but with 2 kids under the age of 3... it can be a challenge. Regardless, I will get this garden started this week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Get the Facts Straight

There are so very many misconceptions about chickens. People often think of chickens as noisy, filthy and diseased animals who all have salmonella. The fact of the matter is... this is all INCORRECT! Here are some Myth Busters for you:

Myth # 1) They are noisy.

Reality: Chicken hens are one of the quietest domestic animals. They cluck softly from time to time, and will often cluck to let you know they recently laid an egg. Unless they are in danger, they do not squawk. They sleep at night just as people do and are completely quiet from dusk to dawn. They are quiet because they want to be left alone to hunt and peck and do not want to attract attention to themselves. Roosters, on the other hand, can be quite noisy as this is their role in the flock.

Myth # 2) They are dirty.

Reality: Chickens are very clean animals. They will occasionally give themselves “dirt baths” but this is actually in order for them to preen their feathers and keep themselves clean and cool. Their droppings usually do not smell, especially if they are allowed to range freely in a grassy yard and are not caged or confined in a small area. The droppings are easily hosed off and break down into an excellent fertilizer for the lawn. Just like all pets and animals, chickens need responsible owners to keep the area tidy and clean out the living area from time to time.

Myth # 3) They are “3rd World creatures”.

Reality: Chickens have been given a bad rap. Because they are so low maintenance and cost so little to raise, many people view them as a social status symbol of the uncivilized or uncultured class. This is completely an image issue. Some areas of the world have problems with stray dogs. This is not because dogs are inherently “3rd World creatures”, but rather because the animal control laws of those countries are not adequate.

Myth # 4) They carry disease.

Reality: Chickens are just like any other animal including humans, dogs, cats and others when it comes to disease. They are not any more likely to carry disease than a dog. If they are well-cared for, fed, watered and kept in a clean environment, then they are more likely to stay healthy. Diseases are much more likely to be harbored in confined animal feeding operations due to their sheer size and tight conditions than in a healthy backyard setting.

Myth # 5) They attract pests.

Reality: To the contrary, chickens love to eat insects of all kinds including worms, beetles, grasshoppers, earwigs, mosquitoes and their larvae, fly larvae, ticks and more and are one of the best methods of insect control. Chickens have even been known from time to time to eat small mice! As long as their feed is properly stored just as dog or cat food should be, it will not attract added pests either.

Myth # 6) They attract predators.

Reality: It is true that predators such as foxes, skunks, racoons and hawks often eat chickens if they can catch them. However, these same predators might eat cats, rabbits and even small dogs if given the opportunity. Chickens do not attract predators any more than these other animals. They have instinctual defenses that protect them from these predators, such as sleeping in a protected area (coop) at night and making very little noise. Most family dogs and cats generally leave chickens alone and throughout the ages have all lived together in harmony.

Myth # 7) They need a lot of space.

Reality: Free range chickens need very little space. Most poultry associations designate that chickens need about 3 square feet of ranging area. Of course they will do even better with more, but an average-sized backyard would easily accommodate 4-6 chickens -no problem. Chickens are completely content to peck around in a fenced yard and have no reason to flap over fences, especially if they are not able to look through those fences at scrumptious bugs on the other side (privacy fencing works best). A small coop to sleep in at night is required. This can be very small if it is only used for sleeping. A coop that is 3x3x3 feet for about 4 chickens would be perfect if they are allowed to roam feely during the day. A coop of this size is about the same size as an average dog house.

Myth #8) They require a lot of equipment, work, or time.

Reality: Chickens are very low maintenance. They simply need water, food and shelter. They do not need to be groomed, washed, pet, walked, spayed, neutered, or trained. You can spend as little or as much time with them as you want. Their bedding area should be cleaned out about once a month which is not much of a problem.

Myth #9) Chickens are dangerous to have around children.

Reality: While chickens are thought to have evolved from the Tyrannosaurus Rex, chickens are definitely not dangerous. Most chickens have no interest in humans unless they are feeding them. They have no teeth and could not hurt a child as a dog or cat might.

Myth #10) You need a rooster in order to have eggs.

Reality: Roosters are unnecessary in the laying process and, in fact, are unnecessary to raising chickens. Chicken hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster. The only difference is that with a rooster, the eggs may be fertilized. Without a rooster they are not.

Info taken from lifetransplanet.

and one more myth to bust...

Myth #11) All chickens carry Salmonella.

Reality: Sometimes chickens, just like other animals, can have Salmonella bacteria. When hens are detected with the bacteria only a small number of hens seem to be infected at any given time, and an infected hen can lay many normal eggs while only occasionally laying an egg contaminated with the Salmonella bacterium. Here are just some of the other animals who can can carry salmonella: lizards, snakes, turtles, hamsters gerbils, birds, dogs, cats, ducks, horses and even Humans!

More info see

Get composting.

Since we are getting chickens and have our gardens, we figured it was due time to get a compost in. We decided to get a simple wood frame with a lid. Aaron could have built one but we decided to go the quick and lazy rout and buy one from Rona. It holds 400L and should be adequate for our needs. It was super easy to assemble and Aaron sealed it last night when he did the coop. The chickens waste (bedding, poop) will be a wonderful fertilizer and perfect for composting. Not much food waste will have to go into the compost since the chickens will eat most of the raw vegetable and fruit scraps... another great reason for Chickens.

Ordered Chicks!

I placed my order for 4, 2 week old Barred Plymouth Rocks today from the Harrow Feed store. I was told they will be delivered to the store on July 5th. I am not sure if they come 2 weeks old or if they stay at the feed store the the 2 weeks. I am hoping they will be ready to come home on the 5th. I am just so excited to get things up and running. I think we will be keeping the chicks in the garage during the nighttime and the coop and run during the day. I ordered some books for amazon and hope they come soon. they usually only take a few days to arrive. I can't wait to start reading up on things. The books I ordered were based on reviews as well as the preview of the book available on amazon as well.

I ordered:

I have already read so much online as well as joined a forum called Backyard Chickens. So far the people within the forum have been, for the most part, very helpful. Last night Aaron sealed our coop and run and hopefully tonight we will start getting it set up outside. I will have to have Aaron update about installing the coop and fencing. I know we will be putting down blocks as a base for the coop and we talked about putting blocks into the ground around the run as well for extra protection from predators as well as stabilization. More on the coop setup later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ten Facts About Chickens:

  1. It is thought that the nearest relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex is a chicken.
  2. A castrated male chicken is called a capon.
  3. Chickens will be less 'flighty' if while tending a pen or chicken house the caretaker walks backwards.
  4. You can literally hypnotize a chicken by holding it and drawing a line in the dirt over and over. The chicken will stay still right there as long as you do this.
  5. Some breeds of chickens can lay colored eggs.
  6. Christmas has different meanings in different countries. Christmas Eve in Japan is a good day to eat fried chicken and strawberry short-cake.
  7. The average hen lays 265 table eggs each year.
  8. There are more chickens on earth than there are humans.
  9. A chicken's gizzard will likely have gravel to help "chew" the food for digestion.
  10. A rooster will usually perform a special waltz or dance in an attempt to attract a mate.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another Nephew on the way = time for another blanket!

I have started a new baby blanket for my soon to arrive nephew Dominique. I chose a Tavern Green, Country Blue and Off white from Bernat Cotton-Ultrasoft (although I have not been albe to find the colours online; I purchased them from Zellers). I think it will turn out beautifully. I am doing a simple wave pattern and so far it is looking great. The pattern had said to carry each colour up the sides but so far I have chosen to drop each colour and stitch the ends in each time there is a colour change. This means lots of stitching but I think it will look better in the end since the blanket will not have edging. I may try stitching them up the sides rather than cut each time. We shall see how that works out. It is a work in pregress and I am learning as I go since I am still just learning the skill.


I simply have to mention that this spring we had a mother duck make her nest in a bush around our pool. We watched her sit for 2 weeks and then one faithful morning I looked out into our yard and there was Mommy duck and 11... YES 11 little ducklings! The kids both got to see them and watch them take their first swim in our pool. So cute. The celebration quickly changed to concern when they ended up stuck in our pool. I had to hop in and get them out with our skimmer net. Needless to say, they didn't stick around after that. I am sure they made their way to the river a block away or maybe the pond across the street. Either way, I did my good deed and saved them from drowning in our pool. The whole experience was part of the reason we are getting chickens.


We are taking a vacation! Aaron and I have decided to take a vacation in September to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We are going to stay at Queen's Landing and visit some wineries, doing some tours... maybe a bike tour, weather pending. We are also planning a guided fishing trip while up there. I think Aaron and I will have a great time catching some fish together. It will also be harvest season and so hopefully we can taste some grapes and drink some wine of the same vines from previous years. I think it will be such a great time and a well over due romantic trip for the two of us.

Chickens? What?

Aaron and I, in our quest to have some sort of self-sufficiency and fresh local food for our family have, made the decision to raise urban chickens in our yard. We are wanting to have as much control over the food we eat and where it comes from. We try to buy fresh, local produce when available as well as fresh local meat. Eggs are a major part of our children's diets not only a breakfast food with toast and bacon but are used in baking, salads, fritatas, and I could go on and on. If we are able to have fresh, hormone free eggs that come from clean, healthy hens then we will. We are looking into purchasing (hopefully) a coop for the yard and then getting 4 or so Hens. We have been doing plenty of research about raising hens and different breeds and such. As far as breed, I think we will go with Barred Plymouth Rock chicks. I would love to have some Polish Hens since they are so very cute but they aren't overly reliable layers. We have purchased our coop and plan on getting things up and running over the next few weeks.

Here is a photo without the nest boxes or run.

The quest for some self-sufficiency in an urban setting can be a bit of a challenge. We are taking baby steps but I do think we are on the right path.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Still no vegetable garden

Well, our vegetable garden has yet to be started. We cleaned out all the grass and weeds that had made their homes back there but never even started our seedlings. I think we will be heading out this month to get some plants form a local nursery. We will be keeping it simple back there this year. We definitely learned from our mistakes last year. I think the biggest lesson was not to plant too much of anything. Last year we had way too many zucchini and butternut squash plants... they squash literally overran our garden and made their way into our pool area. Only 1-2 zucchini and butternut squash plant for a family of four... unless you eat your weight in zucchini. We are too late for peas but most other things we should still be able to get going. We are going to directly sow our lettuce, carrots, and beets. We will buy tomato, cucumber, zucchini and maybe some pepper plants. Once we get out to the nurseries we will see what they have and what looks nice. Hopefully we can get it going this Sunday. ANY later and we may not be able to have much.