A Simple ‘Six on Saturday’

Hi there, and welcome to my blog! Although I have not posted here in a while, I have indeed been working in my garden. So much has been growing! Honestly, I didn’t know what to write about first since there’s been so much going on in the garden. I therefore thought it would be fun to join in on The Propagator‘s meme of ‘Six on Saturday’, to get me back into the groove. You can check out lots of ‘Six on Saturday’ posts at The Propagator’s site, where we all list our links in the comments. I’ll be screeching in to the end of it at this late stage of the day! Here are my six:

  1. Pink lupine. This huge bunch (almost looking like a clump) of pink and yellow flowers has provided the most lovely display for a number of weeks. It is just fabulous, and I’m so happy with it. This contrasts with a pink and white variety, which I originally preferred because of the coloring, but was lack luster with its blooming.
Full pink lupine plant early June
Pink and yellow lupine on the left (vs. pink and white on the right)

2. Plum colored bearded iris: Benton Storrington. I transplanted this bearded iris late this past fall, in a new bed that was created after planting some birch trees. I wasn’t sure how they’d do, given how late in the year it was. Thankfully, just about every plant flowered and bloomed. They are really quite pretty!

Benton Storrington Iris full sun
Bearded iris: Benton Storrington
Pink lupine and Iris Benton Storrington early June
Pink lupine and plum colored bearded iris Benton Storrington

3. Siberian Iris: Shirley Pope. This sweet little flower joined our garden way back in 2017. Unfortunately, it was in a bed that had very poor quality soil (the lavender does great in there). It has never bloomed until this year! What a beauty it is. Worth the wait.

Siberian iris Shirley Pope
Siberian and Bearded Iris with Birch trees
Siberian iris Shirley Pope in front of birch trees with Iris Benton Storrington in the background

4. Cream colored David Austin Roses: Lichfield Angel. I love roses. Sure what’s not to love? These in particular have centers that remind me of swirled piped icing on cupcakes! They are super ‘ruffly’ with a seemingly endless amount of petals. I believe my area has ideal conditions for black spot, though, and this rose would suffer from it. I do my best with my milk/water combination spraying, which is fine by me. They are so beautiful that I think they are worth it.

Lichfield angel hand bouquet
A hand held bouquet of Creamy white Lichfield Angel David Austin roses, with a backdrop of James Austin roses.
Lichfield Angel David Austin Rose end of June
The centers of the Lichfield Angel David Austin roses are what I find intriguing!

5. Pink Paeonia lactiflora: Sea Shell. Last year during lockdown, through one of my retail therapy sessions (almost all of which were garden related, by the way), this gorgeous peony joined my garden from Leamore nursery. It is pink, delicate and simply lovely. Funny enough, I had to move it this past spring, and it still bloomed!

Paeonia lactiflora Sea Shell
Paeonia lactiflora Sea Shell

6. Last, but not least, coming in at number six, are my six chickens! The big news is that three young hens have joined us over the past month. They are Daisybell, Maran, and Bluebelle varieties, and are just lovely. They join my three Rhode Island Red (hybrids), who are really not happy about the newcomers. They were separated by a fence for a week, but still the pecking order has to be established. That is still ongoing, unfortunately. I’m hopeful that they will all get along well one day soon!

Daisybell, Maran and Bluebelle chickens
The Daisybell, Maran and Bluebelle chickens joined us this month!
4 Rhode Island Red chickens
This picture is from November, when I had four Rhode Island Red (hybrid) chickens. They are now bossing the new girls around!

I hope you have enjoyed my ‘Six on Saturday’! It was a great way to jump back into blogging again! Have a lovely week!

In Peace,
Dana

Raising Chickens: What I’ve learned so far

Hi there! Welcome to my blog, where this week I’m just going to gush all about my chickens! I figured that after getting chickens a year and a half ago, I could share with you what I’ve learned so far. It truly has been a joy raising chickens.

I’m not exactly sure why, but when we moved to Ireland I decided that I wanted to have chickens. It took a little bit longer than anticipated, but about 10 years later I did get my chickens. Good things come to those who wait, right? 🙂 I wasn’t interested in hatching eggs and the work involved in that aspect, so I purchased chickens that were almost ready to start laying, which for these girls was around 23 weeks old. Another way to know if they are ready to start laying eggs is if their comb and wattle are developed. The farmer suggested that if I took them right before they are due to start laying, the transition would go smoother. If I waited to take them until after they started laying, they would most likely stop laying until they were fully settled in.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about a chicken run – a place for them to walk about and stay safe – for our four chickens. Their hen house, which I think is really cute, had an enclosure that, even with the extension, was rather small. We started letting them out of their house to roam our yard. I can tell you that once you start doing that, they will not want to stop! They stayed in our yard for the first 3 months or so. But then they started roaming to our neighboring fields. Every day they would go wandering through the fields and every night they would make their way home and go into their house to sleep. But when the fields were being harvested, and grain was left on the roads after falling from trailers, our chickens would stay in the road to eat the grain. Sadly, we lost two chickens this way. It was a tough lesson, but it was the impetus we needed to get our run made.

Ideally, a safe run has covering, which ours does not. Someday I do hope to get covering, but for now the girls can take cover under the hedge, or under their house. We have fencing on the back side of our hedge, so they can’t get out and hopefully no predator can get in. For us, our main concern is that they are enclosed in their house every single night. It is above the ground, with a sliding door closure, so hopefully they are safe from predators. Their house has a window for ventilation, and two nesting boxes. I can tell you that the chickens are not supposed to sleep in the nest boxes – mainly because they poo all night long and then the nest is a mess for their eggs in the morning. Our first batch of chickens did not originally sleep in the nesting boxes. They started this bad habit in the winter when it was just the two of them, and since I felt badly about there only being two, I didn’t try to stop them from doing this. Then, when we added the two new girls the following spring, they all slept in the nest boxes! It is more work for me to clean it out every morning, but that is ok. The house is easier to clean as the tray below the perches slides out and just takes a quick wipe to clean. I use straw in the nest boxes, so it is a bit precarious getting the poo out among the straw (TMI?).

The girls have two watering containers – one under the house and one in their run. They have a food container under their house, and I also throw their layer pellets in the grass, as they like to eat it that way. I rarely give them ‘treats’ as it is better for them to eat their pellet food than ‘treats’. But having said that, they do love fish skins! There is also a container of crushed oyster shells, which they eat on a daily basis. This helps to ensure that their egg shells are strong. They don’t eat to bulk up and stay warm. The process of them eating actually helps them to keep warm. I also have to wonder if they enjoy each other’s warmth when they sleep together in the nest boxes. Smarty chickens.

We have 4 Rhode Island Red hybrids, which are the best egg layers. They do not disappoint, and we get one egg a day from each of them. One of our girls, Rose, will sometimes not lay an egg. Twice when she didn’t lay an egg, she became ‘egg bound’ (when the egg gets stuck). It was easy to spot that she wasn’t doing well. They almost always stay together throughout the day, and on those two occasions, she stayed away from the others, and hid under the hedge. Both times I took her into our house overnight and gave her some special attention. Thankfully, she was fine both times and was able to pass her egg. It can be fatal if they don’t. The next morning I put her back with the others and you’d never know she wasn’t well the day before!

The other issue I’ve had to deal with is bullying. In the first group, the main bully was killed, and poor Daisy was finally free of her. But when the second two girls arrived, Rose stepped up to be the bully and Iris has received the brunt of most of her antics. What does she do? She will peck Iris on the head for no reason, she’ll jump on her back and peck her, or she’ll chase her from the food or water dish. The ‘pecking order’ is well established, and the younger ones won’t stand up for themselves or fight back. If it was constant, I would separate the bully from the group. For now, I try and keep an eye on them and make sure that Iris is safe.

I really enjoyed when the girls were free range. They would follow us around in the garden. They seem to be curious creatures and always wanted to know what we were doing – even in the house! Funny enough, Daisy had managed to figure out how to fly out of the run. She’d done it about 5 or so times before the new girls arrived. She only ever flew out when we were home, which is quite lucky for us. Rose never managed to fly out. But since the new girls arrived this past spring, Daisy has not flown out a single time. Maybe she was just looking for some more company? 🙂

I’m so glad to have the chickens as pets. They are quite manageable. They are lovely to watch, and honestly, fresh eggs are the best! They are quite sweet to listen to, as well.

I hope you are keeping well. We’re coming up to Thanksgiving in the States. It is tough being far away from friends and family, especially around the holidays. If you celebrate it, I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! Stay safe and healthy.

In Peace,
Dana

hen house sunny morning November
A beautiful morning in the country.
chicken in the house
A view of the inside of the hen house.
Henhouse enclosure
A view under the hen house. The girls will either go here or under the hedge when it is raining hard. They don’t really mind a light rain.
sleeping chickens
Nap time! (at least for three of them)
Chickens hiding from sun
This is where they go to get some shade (or under the hedge).
chickens and their run
They have a lot of space to walk around.
four hens in the turtle
They usually stay together.
chickens at the compost
Free ranging at the compost.
two chicken bums
Is there anything more fluffy than this?
two young hens
The two new hens (the comb and wattle aren’t fully developed).
Young hens house
We separated the young hens for about a week, to keep them safe from the older hens. We possibly should have done this for 2 weeks.
two and two chickens
In the early days, the two young hens kept apart from the two older hens.
two old together two young
The two on the left are the older chickens (lighter coloring).
Three hens in nest box
Now, they’ll all mix in together!
Rose and Daisy at the door
Rose and Daisy would ‘knock’ at the door to come in!
hens and pheasant
The girls were not impressed with their male visitor.
Daisy on the fence
Daisy hasn’t flown out of the run since the new hens arrived this past spring.
rose and her two eggs
This time that Rose was egg bound, she ended up passing a normal sized egg and a very large soft shelled egg, in one night! No wonder she was uncomfortable.
three in one eggs
They usually lay their eggs all in one nest. This was unusual to see one on the right.
egghouse
This is my egg house. I pencil the date on the eggs to keep track, but they are usually eaten within a few days.
all sized eggs
This was before my egg house – you can see all different sized eggs! The younger hens lay smaller eggs.
poached eggs and quinoa
It’s not all about poached eggs on toast! Quinoa with poached eggs and dressing is delicious, too!
chicken under house
It is relaxing to just watch them.
two girls under hedge
Here is a younger hen on the left and an older one on the right, resting.
two older chickens resting
The two older hens resting together. You’ll notice that most pictures are of them resting! It’s much harder to capture good pictures of them on the go!
handfull of eggs
It’s not just about the eggs, but the eggs sure are a wonderful part of raising chickens!

Thanks so much for visiting! I hope you enjoyed my little chicken story. Take care! 🙂

It’s O.K. to make mistakes

anemone mr fokker

Anemone ‘Mr. Fokker’ blooms all winter

Hello there! You are always welcome to my Mom in the Garden blog, where I’ll chat about the garden, or my chickens, or anything at all, really! Something happened this week that just had me thinking about some personal struggles that, thankfully, I’m slowly getting over. It was an email ad, actually, that my husband had received from a huge international company, advertising a new breakfast special. But the price was a pound, and we live in the Republic of Ireland and we don’t use pounds, we use euros. Sure enough, a little while later my husband received another email ad, with an ‘Oops!’ and a correction of the price from pound to euro. Not a big deal, really, just a mistake.

I’m going to back up a few years, to my life prior to going back to work. I was a stay at home mom for 16 years. Loved it. Did lots. Never bored. Then the time came, and I returned to work outside of the home. I won’t even talk about how different the world was from when I left the work force, but I had changed. I was now holding myself to an unreasonable standard, where mistakes were simply unacceptable. Holy cow, the pressure I put myself under! Even writing an email had my palms all sweaty (What if I said the wrong thing? or didn’t ‘cc’ the right people?). It was debilitating. And it took a long time to learn that everyone, and I mean everyone, makes mistakes. And that is O.K.! You deal with the mistake, you learn from the mistake, and you move on from the mistake. End of story.

So I had to laugh when my husband told me about the email ad. Just another reminder that even the marketing departments in big, international corporations make mistakes.

I’m getting better at moving on after mistakes. There is still room for improvement, but I’m in a much healthier place than the impossible ‘mistake free’ mentality I had.

I hope you are having a mistake-free day – and that if you do make a mistake, you’ll know it is O.K.. 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

two chickens ashes dirt bath

My two girls, Daisy and Rose, underneath their house, having a dirt bath with ashes.

two eggs and two chickens

Our girls provide us with two fabulous eggs, nearly every day.

Cat on wall in sun

This is Kitty. She doesn’t like to look at the camera, but likes to be in the picture.

Frilly Isabelle Feb

This hellebore, Frilly Isabelle, is one of my favorite shades of pink, and is covered with blooms.

wild fennel in February morning sunlight

Wild fennel in morning sunlight

Playhouse in February morning sun and frost

The morning sunlight was simply magical here – the side of the playhouse roof – the fronds of the ornamental grass, the fields – the lighting was amazing!