Wednesday, September 23, 2015

whitewash + wishful Wednesday


Today I am the windshield, yesterday was definitely the bug. After a night of sad and troubling dreams, decided that an early morning bike ride to the grocery store was just the thing to clear away all the mental cobwebs. Riding home, someone had put out a big bucket of flowers in their parking strip, with a sign "free flowers - take just one so more people can enjoy them..." So our plucky heroine picked out a lovely sprig of Alstroemeria and pedaled back towards the cottage.

Almost home, and saw that there was leaf raking in progress at the big house on the corner, so I stopped and asked if they wanted their leaves, or were sending them away as yard waste... End result was the hens got a whole trash bin full of leaves, and I am welcome to rake up and keep any of their leaves in the future. Hope this positive momentum keeps going!
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Whilst out and about, I noticed this unusual fungus growing on a neighborhood tree... it is over 6" across, and a bright yellow orange. Not your usual local shelf fungus, and looked at from the side view, it seems positively architectural. Online consensus seems to be that it appears to be sulfur shelf polypore, aka chicken of the woods. (edible with caution, so I decided to simply leave it there to enjoy observing it, rather than take a chance on possible digestive dismay)
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side view and top view
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Whitewash for chicken house improvement was mixed up last night. 1 gallon H20, 7 cups hydrated lime, 2 cups salt. Rather than use my kitchen measures I simply used an 8oz canning jar, because glass is impermeable and non reactive. The whitewash sits overnight, though the lime and salt seemed to dissolve really quickly, and some online info says the overnight rest isn't needed. Later today, the brush hits the coop... This is the stick I used to stir up the whitewash last night. I thought it would be interesting to see what it looked like once the whitewash dried... color me pretty impressed

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This afternoon Freydis and I took brushes in hand and whitewashed the chicken coop, after I had cleared out all the former bedding and cobwebs and suchlike. The chickens were more curious about what the people were doing with the back of the hen house removed than about the new color of the walls...
Whitewashing is really messy to apply inside a confined space, and doing the inside of the roof meant that there was quite a lot of whitewash on me, up my sleeves and in my shoes. Fortunately it is non-toxic and water soluble. As it dried, it did brighten up the interior of the chicken house quite a bit; it goes on as a barely visible very drippy liquid but becomes more opaque as it dries...
There was quite a lot of whitewash leftover after doing the interior, so we whitewashed all of the exterior we could reach, which included half of the front. The difference between the right and left side is impressive, and I still have at least a half gallon or more of whitewash leftover. Not sure how long it keeps, as there is not much information online other than some recipes and a bit on how to apply it.
Next time I mix up some whitewash I will not start with a gallon of water, but about half as much, the little chicken house here is so much smaller than what most folks think of as a livestock shelter. I may just go out back and whitewash the rest of their house, there is certainly enough of the liquid still to cover it several times over!
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In addition to todays whitewashing of the chook house (and the hopefully-soon future new improved hen habitat) some improvements to the feeding and watering would be a nice addition. One of the imported "Grampa's Feeders" would be foolishly extravagant, (and overkill, for there are only two hens that live here). I actually like the "Chooktred" feeder better, the design of the hinge and panel seems better to me as well as the size:

Unfortunately they do not seem to be available here in the USA. There are some less spendy and less elaborate domestic models; another option would be building something similar, possibly like this one though unsure as to how well wooden feeders would hold up in this climate. I wonder about the possibility of building a metal feeder...  Another option would be this sort of "peck to release pellets" system from Trigger Happy Chickens.

While my hens seem quite satisfied with the basic large double wall galvanized waterer, the zinc coating is wearing off the drinking portion, and the water can get sort of rusty, which can't be ideal. I am considering some sort of either "nipple" drinkers or cup drinkers attached to a bucket reservoir, as that would keep the benefit of a large quantity of water, but keep the drinking water cleaner. Of course, in the winter, I have two smaller chook drinkers that I rotate in and out of the house to keep them from freezing, since running a very long electric extension cord into the backyard seems more troublesome than simply checking on them from time to time...
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Refilled the chooks oyster shell feeder this morning, and topped it with a nice helping of crushed baked* eggshells they came running over and started digging through it, a sure sign of laying hens that want their calcium, and that the eggshell calcium is more desirable than the oyster shell variety (I rinse and then bake the eggshells before crushing them and feeding them back to the hens, because that helps keep them from thinking oh, these eggs that somehow show up here in the chicken house are made of food...)
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September SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 apron dress for L linen closet doors bag to Goodwill
2 DM coronet shed roof patched bag to Goodwill
3 DM coronet front door latch bag to Goodwill
4 red top for Joan bike brake cable bag to Goodwill
5 Coptic stitch book bike kickstand bag to Goodwill
6 duct tape clone side yard work bag to Goodwill
7 whitewash back yard work bag to Goodwill
8 - whitewash henhouse bag to Goodwill
9 - - electronica x 2
10 - - yard waste bin

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