It is getting to the time of year to switch our garden from Summer veggies to fall veggies. Which makes for a very happy flock, when we give them the plants and leftovers. We give them garden scraps throughout the growing season, broken plants, or extra leaves. But at the end of the season, in order to prep our beds for the next planting round, we pull up all the plants – this time, zucchini and cucumber. It is incredible to see the quick work they make of the massive plants.
The garden scraps are not just a nice treat to make for some happy girls, they provide a boost in a variety of different nutrients. Since they omnivores, they will eat most anything – which means YOU have to be sure to only give them things that won’t make them sick. For most part, as long as it’s not moldy, they can have everything we grow. They especially love the squash blossoms that didn’t turn into full grown squashes. Its funny to watch them chase each other around trying to get a nibble of one.
There are a few common things to avoid – the leaves and vines of tomatoes, avocados, raw rice and raw beans. The rice and beans fall into this category because they get stuck in a chicken’s craw. The craw is the sack in their neck that they use to breakdown food. Chickens don’t have teeth, so they rely on their craw to start the digestion process. They eat small pebbles and pieces of grit that will stay in their craw and work as a grinder. If organic material (like raw rice and beans), gets stuck in the craw it can start to essentially ferment – which can cause infections. That’s why the saying “Stuck in my Craw” implies a distaste or disliking of something.
All of this fresh green vegetation results in some beautifully golden egg yolks! They even sometime border on orange. We get a variety of shell colors – from white to green/blue. The brown ones also run the spectrum of browns from a very pale cream to a much darker brown. The color of the egg is determined by the breed – white, brown or “Easter Egger” (which is the blue and greens). But the shade of the egg shell as well as the yolk can give you hints about their health. If the yolk is very pale yellow – they are getting the bare minimum (in terms of nutrients) to even produce eggs.
The ducks also really love to get in on the garden scrape – but they were a bit camera shy this time around. It may had something to do with Sequoia – our Aussiedoodle – deciding that she needed to bark at the mountain of zucchini plant. Maybe she thought she was protecting them!
Meet the Girls:
Almost all of them have names (and they all start with ‘S’, which is a silly story), with the exception of the barred rocks and the speckled sussex. This is because we have 2 sets of 2 barred rocks (one we call the old twins and one we call the young twins) and a set of 2 speckled sussex that we just call both speckled, because honestly you cannot tell them apart. The rest are in groups. We have the ‘Singers’ – Shania, Shakira and Sally. We have the Firestarters (again a story for another day) – Smokey, Sparky and Sizzle. We then have Savvy – which we saved from a round of meat chickens, when we realized that she might not have been meant to be a meat chicken. And at the moment only one of our ducks is named – Sandy. The 3 ducklings we have are not yet old enough to know for sure if they are girls (egg layers) or boys (meat producers), so we won’t name them till we know for sure. But at the moment the names on the table are Spaghetti, Strawberry, Sage, Sasha and Sammy.
Do you or have your raised your own chickens? Do you have any questions you want answers or topics you would like to see me cover in this series?
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