No, I want the dry Canadian air masses that bring warm DRY Fall air and crisp Fall nights. The night weather where you leave the windows open for the fresh air and at 3 am get too cold, even wrapped like a giant burrito, and you refuse to simply expose a disposable limb to reach over and close the window - or Heaven forbid, get out of bed altogether and get another blanket. Dry and warm, cool and crisp, yup, that's what I am ready for.
But to get to that, we in the Prairielands, have to pay for that for a couple of months. I call it Mother Nature's Menopause. We have stretches of days that mind numbingly hot and idiotically humid, then a cold front will swing through and give us a couple of days that are downright tolerable. As soon we get it into our heads that, "hey, I could do with this kind of weather for a few days. GOODBYE Icky Summer!" A low pressure system will pulse across the plains, pulling up moisture and heat from the Gulf, and we're back to a living in a sauna. This great swing in both directions brings our second round of severe weather of the year. Luckily, we've been on the pretty viewers side of the storms, so far.
After that blew through, parts of Lincoln had 5 inches of rain. We had .04" inches. It was cooler. Sadly the humidity didn't go with it. Which left us with FOG. Lots of fog.
Sigh. The rooster, he's certifiably INSANE! I am convinced it is some wacky surge in cockerel hormones. Have I mentioned he hates my ankles? He flogs my ankles. This week, while sitting quietly in a chair, he wandered over and took a bite out of my ankles. I know, all my friends are yelling, "stew POT!" But he only does it to me, so I put up with it. If he starts up with The Boy, he's soup. For the boy, he comes over, hops on his lap, and naps. He must see me as another rooster. So for now, he gets the other end of the horse crop, and snuggles.
We've already covered the insanity of the birds in a previous post, so we won't tread into that pool this week. I am going to speak towards the changing seasons and chicken care. I know it's September and the days are still warm, and the cold weather seems to be SO far away. But like so often happens, time just FLIES by. Work, family, chores, school, or fall fun always seem to make the ever shortening days go even faster. And honestly, most people don't want to think about the mighty cold creep, the deep freeze, the mighty chill. This is, however, the best time to be thinking about what you need to do to get ready for the rapidly approaching season. I'd rather work a little in the warmth (not the blazing heat), than to try to get outdoor work done in the freezer.
There are many things that need done this time of year. The garden is on its last legs. I will be picking and storing the green tomatoes on Friday. The sorghum is about a week away from being cut and hung to dry for winter treats. The cantaloupe vines needs pulled. The corn stubble needs pulled and tossed into the compost pile, which needs turned and dumped into the garden and allowed to mellow over winter. The new pile needs started with the still green rubbish of the garden. And MOST importantly, the coop needs cleaned and set up for winterization. UGH, the "W" word.
I deep clean the coop twice a year: April, when the days warm and the funk of a closed up winter needs chased away, and October, when bedding needs replaced, corners need dusted for mites and flies, the run flooring gets swapped out.
As the weather will be decent this weekend, I may just tackle the run and the compost pile and get it out of the way. The run is a deep liter run. It started as 6 inches of cypress mulch on top of lawn. Over the summer, it has seen spilled feed, treats, lots of green hay meadow clippings, melon rinds, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and poo - lots and LOTS of chicken poo. I will rake out the larger pieces of mulch and loosen the rest with one of those twist tine garden tools. I will remove most of this and place it in the garden to mellow over winter and some in the new compost pile to jump start it. I will groom the whole area, and add the old large pieces back and toss in a bunch of scratch to encourage exploration, and then some more FRESH cypress mulch. That's it :D That will hold us until Spring when we do the whole thing again.
I will also install the run and coop winter lighting this weekend. We are loosing daylight FAST! I will not let the lights run all winter, as I want the girls to have a break. But the current sunrise at 630 and pitch black by 8pm isn't working for me. LOL. All it is a 50 foot string of soft white LED Christmas lights. Just enough to gently wake them up and keep them from going comatose at 730pm.
I need to really tackle how I am going to cover the outside of the run for the winter months. I have a general plan, so I'll update on that later.
The inside of the coop needs a little weekly TLC. With all the extra humidity and little wind, it is getting mildly stinky. Not odiferous, but a little wet chicken, hot chicken, chicken poo stinky. Besides a general sweeping and sprinkling of the coop with more DE, I also use a vinegar mix spray that I ferment myself and use to spray down anything that doesn't run away. It not only knocks down the stinkies, but it won't harm the birds or their delicate fluffy lungs.
I simply take a quart (or half gallon) mason jar (or any generic) with a good lid. I keep it in the refrigerator as we finish off oranges, lemons, or limes, I toss in the rinds. When it is about 80% full I toss in some rosemary, some cinnamon, thyme, mint leaves, basil, vanilla beans, or whatever I think will smell fabulous or have on hand. I then top the whole thing off to within half an inch of the top with white, distilled 5% vinegar. I let this sit for a month at room temperature. After that, I transfer the strained liquid to a large horse spray bottle and just keep it in the coop. I spray down the windows, the chicken mirror, roosts, and nests boxes and anything else while the girls are out playing.
I also take this opportunity to check the condition of the nest boxes. Do the pads need replaced or cleaned? I sweep out the boxes, and sprinkle DE into the deep dark corners. I wash the washable pads and hang them in the sunshine to dry. When I return them to the boxes I sprinkle a liberal amount of my coopouri blend. Yup, just like people potpourri, but chicken safe and for the coop only (especially since I live in a house full of allergy boys.)
Last Spring I found a FABULOUS herb company online. I still don't remember HOW I found it, but I DO remember that I found it by complete accident. The Mountain Rose Herbs company has been not only a wonderful resource, but their customer service, product, and packaging is TOP NOTCH!
I ordered Calendula Flowers, bay leaf, catnip, chamomile, cinnamon chips, eucalyptus, lemon balm, orange peel, oregano, peppermint, pink roses, spearmint, tansy, wormwood, pennyroyal, and sage. I had planned to plant marigolds this summer, but somehow missed that boat! LOL.
I took great handfuls of dried herbs, and mixed them together and crumbled bigger into smaller bits and placed the resulting product into 2 gallon size zip top bags. I sprinkle a couple of handfuls around the coop and in the nest boxes whenever I clean, or the mood strikes me. In the nest boxes, the girls play with and adjust the bits.