We have four lovely chickens and two ducks. Lately, I’ve noticed the chickens seem a little bored. The ducks spend most of the day happily swimming in the pond. I keep finding the chickens standing on the steps to the duck pond just looking in. I don’t expect the chickens to take up swimming. Instead, I made them a swing.
I’ve seen chicken swings on the web before and the design seemed simple enough for me to make. I found a branch about the diameter they like to perch on and long enough they could all sit on it at once. I simply tied some rope to each end of the branch and then tied the other end to a branch on the apple tree growing in their run.
The chickens paid no attention to the swing, so we put the “queen” chicken, Pearl, on the swing first. She is very calm and doesn’t seem to mind being handled. Pearl sat on the swing for a bit then jumped off. We put each of the other chickens on the swing one at a time. Pearl is the only one who will sit on it for any length of time. I believe they will warm up to it and I feel better that they have something else to do besides watching the ducks swim.
A few weeks after transplanting outside, one of my tomato plants started developing yellow leaves. I thought maybe I hadn’t watered it enough. Another week passed with more water and more yellow leaves. Something is wrong here. I checked the leaves for aphids and didn’t see any. Not all the leaves are turning yellow and they didn’t start from the bottom. The yellowing seems to spread around the plant. According to some of the plant health sites I visited this could be a fungus or some other pest, but I’m really not sure. I usually have good luck with tomatoes.
I’m not fond of using pesticides, fungicides or other chemicals on my plants, so I decided on another approach. I cut off all the yellow leaves and threw them away. The plant looks better, but I can tell it’s not thriving. I’ll let it continue to grow as long as it will, but once fall comes, I’m going to cover the soil in that garden with plastic to sterilize what ever is in there that is not friendly. I’m also planning a new garden with a little more direct sun. I’ve grown tomatoes in the same spot for 3 years now. It’s probably a good time to rotate and grow them elsewhere. We’ll see what happens.
Why do my chickens always try to escape their run? They have a large roomy run complete with apple trees, grass, dust bath, compost pile and duck pond. I’m even in the process of building a chicken swing for them. Still they dig along the fence line, they push on the gate, they try to squeeze out any opening they can find. I found one chicken, Apple, laying eggs near the woodpile. She was guarding close to a dozen eggs. Another chicken, Clair, has a taste for the leeks in my garden. Pearl prefers the watermelon patch and Juniper loves hiding under the pine trees, go figure. They all end up standing at the back patio door – looking in. A true sign our chickens are pets. They really just want in the house with us.
Gardening is great exercise. Yesterday I moved about 100 bricks making a triple spiral garden border. I know it was a workout because my legs are really sore today. I try to spend a couple of hours a day in the garden. There are always weeds to pull and something that needs fixed.
On days I’m not able to garden I spend at least 30 minutes on the elliptical. I love the elliptical because it’s in my living room and I can ride it when I want – but I think gardening is better. I get bored on the elliptical. The garden is so fun. Today and for as many days as I can, the garden is my fitness.
I must be a hippie gardener. The straight lines and boundaries of some gardens seem so restrictive. I like a more relaxed approach. Something natural. More like the plants would grow if the seeds just fell to the ground.
I have garden chickens that work for me and they don’t even know it! I have three large garden plots and rotate the chicken run in each of them every year. Last years run had many large sunflowers growing in it. The chicken ate some of the seeds but many fell onto the ground. We’ve had a long wet, cold spring here making it hard to get seeds planted. Since the chicken run was move I planned on planting a 3 sisters garden. That is corn, beans and squash. These three plants grow well together.
Before I could even work the ground sunflowers started popping up. I just don’t have the heart to chop them down. From what I’ve read, sunflowers are friendly to the 3 sisters. The Hippie 4 Sisters Garden was born.
We scattered corn, beans and pumpkin seeds all around the sunflowers. There are no rows or hills. No rigid boundaries. It will be beautiful. I will take pictures. I can’t wait.