Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's so hot out you could fry an egg!

For much of the country we are dealing with extreme temperatures and many of us are really feeling the heat! Many of us know to take precautionary measures for ourselves as well as our pets. If you keep chickens this goes for them as well! Chickens have a normal internal body temp of around 109 degrees. This is great for the cold weather but they can easily get heat exhaustion and die if you do not provide them means to stay cool. As you can see with Henny Penny or Lucy above (which ever one it is) she is panting much like a dog does and is also holding out her wings both of which help to cool her body down. I thought (though many of us have already been enduring record temps this summer) that I would show you some ways to help keep your flock as cool and comfortable as possible.
  • It is really important that you provide them with some sort of shade. This could be a tree, a tarp or even better I found this stuff called Coolaroo Shade Fabric. This can be found on line such as or for those with Sam's Club memberships they have a large roll of this for around $35. This comes in several shades and though it allows light through it blocks up to 80% of UV rays and considerably lowers the temperature under it. Their are several ways to attach this as well depending on the need. I planned on doing this at the start of summer but this summer has been insanly busy which is why I haven't been on here lately.
  • Make sure they have cool fresh water everyday. Adding lots of ice will also greatly help to keep the water cooler longer. I often when temps reach into the 90's change their water by mid afternoon because it can get quite warm to even hot. I also try to keep water both in the coop as well as in the shade in the run. The water container can be anything I use a large pink chip bowl left over from my daughters birthday as it is easy to fill and clean out.
  •  Another thing is a mister. This can be the attachment to your hose or an actual mister. I have used for the last couple years a mister that I bought at Lowes but I just went out today and founf one of the nozzles is not working so I rigged up the mister from my hose attachment and it works just fine. This also really helps to cool the air down and the chickens seem to enjoy it.  I have mine near the coop door which I have left open to provide as much air circulation as possible. For some reason though it is hotter in the coop then tend to stay inside. It may be that the sand in the coop is cooler then the sand outside. Or perhaps they are just not too bright! The picture is foggy because the lens kept fogging up on me.

  • If you have the means to run a box fan or another type of fan out to your coop this is also another great way to cool down the coop and your hens. In my old coop I put it along the outside of the run in a cool spot and they loved sitting right in front of the fan at high speed. IN my new coop I have it in the coop above them pointing down but I am not sure it does a whole lot of good that way. I am going with another plan for next year. The fan does help with flies too which is nice little bonus!

Those are just a few tips on keeping your hens as cool and comfortable as possible in these extreme temps like todays 99 with a heat index of up to 111 degrees! They will still pant and hold their wings out but this is just their way of helping themselves to cool off. Giving them some cool treats like ice cold water melon will be a special treat and my girls sure do love them some nice cold water melon!

Just make sure they have plenty of water and a place to get out of the sun at the very least. They can overheat. Also their are breeds that do better in hot weather just as their are breeds that are better suited to cold weather or rather I should say can tolerate the heat or cold better then other breeds.

Another thing to remember your hens may stop laying when temps soar and this is completely normal just as they stop laying when they molt. If a hen is stressed they will often stop laying for awhile but this should pass. Just keep your eye on them and learn what is normal behavior and what is not. You can also give your flock vitamins (come in powder form that you mix with their water) that you can get at your local feed and seed or tractor supply. If you are unsure what it is as someone and they will help you. It is much like giving them gatorade. Another thing that is really good for them is organic applecider vinegar but do not give them this in a metal water container plastic only. You may want to check about this with the vitamins too. If you want to know more about the vinegar just shoot me an email and I will be happy to let you know more about it and how to go about givig it to your flock.


Stay safe and cool! God bless!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Well I am back! Where do I start?....

Well as I have said in other posts we have had one extremely busy year! I have seriously been nonstop since March and still going...

We headed to the Dominican Republic on June 3 to see our very dear and close friends the Weltins whom are missionaries there. We left for Orlando June 2 to spend the day at Sea World with my mother in law and my husbands great aunt. We had a wonderful day, beautiful weather and lots of fun! We flew out the very next morning out of Orlando to the DR. We spent 11 days there but were gone a total of 14 days! Everyone had such a great time, praise God it all went so well and never had one problem. It was definitely an experience we shall never forget filled with many wonderful memories! It was very hard to say goodbye to our friends but it was very good to be back home on American soil! So many things we take for granted here. Anyway, I will try to share some pictures from our trip.

Meanwhile I had my sister staying at my house to stay with my dog and chickens. I had asked her if she would please please water my plants while I was gone. She said yes, and for me not to worry but have a good time. Soooo we get home and I survey the yard.

Now before I tell you what I saw I would like to say a couple things on her behalf. One we have had NO rain since the end of March. None other then maybe one very small light shower that didn't amount to anything. Everything has been extremely dry, brown grass everywhere....I mean bone dry! Before I left I would have to water all my potted plants twice a day and the raised beds every other day then the rest of the garden and yard once a week and heavily soak it just to keep everything alive and looking decent. I also had and still have jp's really bad and doing quite a number on my roses and crepe myrtles. Ok now the second thing about my sister is she is NOT a plant person.

 Now with all that said I came back took one look around and wanted to cry! Plants so wilted, many brown and dead, my knockouts even looked horrible. 4 out of 5 were almost leafless and yellowing from lack of water and heat (we have had triple digits for weeks now) so stress had really gotten the best of them! 2 of them were really over grown. She says she watered them and I am sure she did but what she did was not enough. 

So we had gotten back on a Tuesday and on Sat. morning early (like I said triple digits though I am sure many of you are feeling it) I grab my pruners to try to bring my poor garden back to life. I started with the knockouts in the very front of the house. I get to the last one and was barely leaning forward when I get this excruciating pain in my back and drop to the ground! No one was home at the time, hubby and oldest child were at the Y and youngest was sleeping over my moms. I could not even get to my knees! Somehow with pain through the roof I get inside the house, grab my cell, fall to the floor, and call my husband to come help me. So I have spent the past week in bed barley able to move for 5 of those days! I have only just these past 2 days been able to get up and walk around carefully and boy does it feel good!

So I was not even back a week after being gone 14 days, garden in terrible shape, chicken coop had not been cleaned out since right before I left and here I was down again for another week! I had my son go out and at least water the lawn with the sprinkler as it was so browned and crispified and water the potted trees and roses. If I hadn't they would be dead for sure! So this morning I was feeling good enough to be able to walk around without much pain or help from anyone. So I went outside to see how much worse the yard looked. I really did cry this time! I know it is silly to cry over such trivial things but when you work so hard and take such time doing and caring for something you love and then have to see it looking as I did it was just heartbreaking! The garden is covered in weeds, dead plants, overgrown grass. The entire garden is going to take a heap load of work to bring it back to anything close to what it looked like before. I so badly wanted  to get out there and weed and prune but right now there is no way! So I will not have any pictures to share of my garden for awhile till I have something presentable sad to say. I don't even know how long it will be till I can really do some gardening. My husband has been waiting on me hand and foot taking good care of me and gave me strict orders not to do anything even laundry! lol He said he will mow the yard (which has really greened up with a couple deep waterings) and clean out the coop which normally only I do because I feel they are my responsibility, my girls and I enjoy taking care of them. Poor girls I feel bad for them. Never has the coop and run been so filthy! So I will have to remain on the side lines for a little while till I recover fully.

ok with before taking on my own flock. 

On a positive note I have yet another trip to look forward too Lord willing! My husband won a trip to Puerto Rico, just the two of us!! Woohoo! I am sooo very excited! We are leaving July 21 for 5 days to San Juan! This is such a wonderful surprise blessing and I'm very thankful for the opportunity!

So for now I will not be on hear much most likely but I will not stop blogging. In fact I am looking forward to getting things back to normal, getting back out in my garden and my chickens, and blogging about it all. I long for it in fact! After my little San Juan getaway of course!  I still have trees and roses to plant and that lasagna bed I told you about. I have lots of work that I would like to try to get done this fall so lots to blog about here soon I hope! In the mean time I will pray for rain and for some relief from the get myself back in tip top gardening shape and get my garden back to a healthy and hopefully beautiful garden once again! God bless you all! ~Meghan

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some pictures from around the yard

What a difference a little time makes.

'Happy Returns' Daylily

This is my driveway bed. The roses are not blooming as I have had a thripe infestation and deaheaded all the roses and buds. Upfront is 'Lamarque' with some daylilies that I forgot the name of. The rose to the left of that is 'Dutcher' with Mealy Cup Sage in front.
Taken several weeks back, we have Climbing Pinkie in the corner and Blush Noisette up front.
Close up of Cl. Pinkies flowers, I love how they change color!
Foxgloves I grew from seed. I just love them!
Foxgloves with Belinda's Dream behind it and behind that is The Charlestonian

'The Charlestonian'

This rose is a favorite of mine, wonderful strong fragrance, vigerous climber, excellent disease resistance.
Mealy Cup Sage, also known as Blue Salvia.

Mealy Cup Sage is a wonderful plant and makes an excellent border plant. It is grown as an annual in some parts of the country but here in my zone 8 garden in over winters just fine and returns year after year. It blooms all summer and is attractive to bees. It likes sun to part shade. A very easy to grow plant!
Close up
Nepta 'Walkers Low', I use this everywhere in the garden, love it!
Clematis 'Franziska Maria' this and the other clematis are new for me, this is there second year. This is pruning type 2. Big blue-purple beautiful flowers around 4-6" across. Blooms June-September and grows 5-7'. I have it growing up 'Sombrueil'.
Hollyhocks, sadly this year they are not doing good at all. The rust this year has been really bad! Not sure why. I plan to rip these out and start all over with new plants. Sad because the Hollyhocks are my favorite old fashion cottage garden plant.
That's it for now!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Back from my Smoky Mountain Vacation

It feels like forever since I last posted. I am still exhausted after our 5 day trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN but I enjoyed every minute of it! This was a large family vacation which included my parents, my sister and her 4 kids. We mainly went there to take the kids to Dollywood which we did a day and a half of but we also took a trip to Cades Cove. I just love the Blueridge Mountains, I love everything about it! Thankfully I don't live but a few hours away to enjoy it! So here are a few pictures from our trip and if you have never paid a visit to the beautiful Smoky Mountains I highly recommend a trip I promise you won't be sorry!

Uh, please excuse my fingers. You can see why they call it both the Blueridge and Smoky Mountains. Our first night there we stopped and had dinner at  The Old Mill Restaurant, which I must thank Connie for over at Hartwood Roses for posting this restaurant on her blog. We all really enjoyed it and the food!....oh my the food! Yum!...hint...wear something with an elastic me!

My son and nephew gives this place a thumbs up!

My son Tyler to the left and nephew Joshua on the right
The following are pictures from Cades Cove. Let me just say how beautiful and peaceful this place is! This place is pretty much left untouched. Wildlife everywhere! We saw 2 adult black bears and then right in front of us before we left was a mama black bear and her 3 tiny little bear cubs crossing the road (cars drive through almost at a crawl so not really any worries of them getting hit). They were the cutest sweetest little things you ever did see! I have a video that I think I will post but please turn the sound down so you don't hear me in my high pitched voiced going awwwwwww, look how cute ooohhhh, they are so cute, oooohhhh, how tiny....ok you get the point, it's very embarrassing but so you can see the bears I will be brave and post it....don't forget, sound down. We also saw LOADS of deer which I am sure many of you fellow gardeners see more of than you would like and don't have many nice things to say about them. For that I understand, if I had to battle with them in my garden I am sure I would feel the same way but I don't so I really enjoy getting up close to them. My husband on the other hand wished he had his shotgun! A hunters dream.

One of a million deer we saw that day

Ok so I posted a picture of me but this is extremely rare.
This was a little hike in the woods along a trail in Cades Cove. My father is the goofy one up front followed by some of the rest of my gang. No worry of startling bears with this gang! They could have heard us coming for miles!
This is the John Oliver Cabin built in 1822-23 by the coves first european settlers.
This Tom Turkey was calling out to us because we were all calling out to him.
Though not wildlife they are beautiful. I can never resist taking pictures of horses. These were horses from the riding stables at Cades Cove. The owners of this stable are decendants of the people who settled there. Next time we come I am going there to do Cades Cove on horseback. They were all right up along the fence so of course we all went over to pet them.

My daughter making friends.
One of the bears we saw taking a stroll in a field.
Ok since this is a blog about gardening I had to throw in a picture of a flower somewhere! This was on a tree but that's all I can tell you. The tree was covered in them and I thought it was a very interesting flower. No smell and the flower was pretty big. So if you know what this is please by all means leave a comment telling us!

This was the mama black bear I was talking about. Notice the idiot standing outside his car. This is a mama black bear with 3 cubs...hello! She stood there for a minute or two watching everyone before her cubs crossed. I'm sorry but you are crazy to be standing out of your car that close to a mother bear!

Ok now here is the video I told you I would post. This was shot with my camera and so please excuse the poor quality. Remember now sound off! lol

So that my friends was my a glimps of my vacation minus the Dollywood pictures (which I only took like 2 of as we were a little busy riding rides, which let me just say that the Mystery Mine is so AWSOME oh and Thunderhead LOVE IT! ok that's all...oh wait the new Barnstormer...did that like 5 times! Ok that's all). I miss getting into my garden, still have those 3 plum trees to plant and other plants to transplant around the garden and oh ya 4 roses that are still waiting to be planted. I will post some pictures of some plants I took pictures of in the garden before I left last week. So much to do and so little time as I am heading off to the Dominican Republic in 2 1/2 weeks for 12 days to see my dearest of dear friends who are there as missionaries to the Haitian living there. Thankfully the weather has still been beautiful here so maybe I can still get some good gardening time in before the humid summer weather kicks in! Thanks for stopping by hopefully I get some down time between schooling my kids and getting caught up on laundry to visit your blogs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Meet my "Girls"

I don't believe I have ever formally introduced my "girls" to you so here they are ...

This is ginger the last of my 3 original hens. She is also I am sorry to say the least handsome of the bunch. Her and Hannah (my favorite of the original 3 and also the one who died a few months ago) were like two peas in a pod. They did everything together, went everywhere together, even slept side by side. Ginger seems lost without her. She is the top of the pecking order and always has been but keeps to herself these days.
This is Henny Penny or at least I think it is but really I have no clue! I can tell all my hens apart but somewhere along the way I lost track of my 2 Rhode Island Reds. They look almost exactly alike and I don't know which is the true Henny Penny anymore. This isn't the most flattering picture of her either. It is hard to catch a good up close still picture of a chicken on the go with my camera! I threw down some carrots to try to get them a little less on the move but it didn't work very well.  Anyway Henny Penny as you might have already guessed is where the name came from for my blog. Rose cause well I LOVE roses and cottage mostly because it sounded nice all together but also because I love cottage gardens.
This is Lucy, at least we will call her that because again I have no clue which is which. Henny Penny and Lucy are very noisy hens that lay large brown eggs almost every day. They are also very beautiful hens with that gorgeous copper red color (well at least I think so anyway). 
Meet of my two Plymouth Barred Rocks. Emma is a very curious hen and likes to follow me around the yard whenever I let them out. She is also a very noisy hen, maybe the noisiest even. She can be a bit of a bully sometimes to my two sweet Easter Eggers and is #2 in the pecking order. I love her though and she enjoys being held and petted.
Though not a good shot of her this is my other Barred Rock, Ethel. It is hard to see in this picture but it is really easy to tell her apart from Emma. She has a deformed comb and wattle for some reason. Her comb is short and nothing like Emma's though it should be and her wattle (part that hangs down)which you can see in this picture is much shorter on one side then the other (in fact you can't even see the other side). Both Emma and Ethel are excellent egg layers and lay light brown eggs regularly.
This little girl is Prudence (named after Prudence Island in R.I) one of my Easter Eggers. They are called Easter Eggers because of the fact they lay pastel colored eggs. They are not pure bred but are actually a cross breed with the genes of either an Ameraucana or an Araucana which are pure bred. If you want a pure bred Ameraucana or Araucana you must get them from breeders because hatcheries do not carry them even though they sometimes list them as such (though you should also see them call the Easter Eggers along side because that is really what they are). They all have the cute little fluffy cheeks (muffs) and/or beards. The EE's look very close to the pure bred Ameraucanas but what sets them apart from the Araucanas is the tail end as they are rumpless. This gives them a very unique look. They all however lay the blue or green eggs and sometimes even a light pink. I just adore them! They are a bit flighty, but very sweet and mild tempered.  They are also much more quiet then the all of my other hens. They even squeak when another hen pecks at them. The bad thing is because of there small stature and timidness they are at the bottom of the pecking order and get picked on or shall I say pecked at.
Last but not least we have Patience (named after the other island in R.I). Again I love both my Easter Eggers! Both lay beautiful turquoise blue eggs. Which is such a treat when collecting eggs!
Here are some random pictures of them...
Henny Penny and Lucy or Lucy and Henny Penny
Oops you caught being where I'm not supposed to be!
Gathering around the ol' watering hole.
Checking out the nesting box...
Excuse me pardon me here...I want this box so move on out sister!
No wait I changed my mind I want whichever box you want so out you go Prudence! (this went on for some time back and forth, whichever box Prudence chose Emma would get up and move into her box kicking her out. This is what you get for being bottom of the pecking order!)
Look at that adorable fluffy chicken butt! I just adore chickens tushes don't you?!
Ahhh, an afternoon at the chicken spa with my friends!

There you have it, now you have met all my "girls" so in the future you will know whom I am talking about when I mention their names.