Chicken Visitor and Starting Over

DSCF5016For several weeks now we have had a chicken visitor.  Charlotte, as we have come to call her, first showed up one cold winter day.  My daughters were worried about her.  She had been pecked in spots and looked weak.  She ended up heading back home though which isn’t far from ours.  Our neighbor behind us and a few houses over has chickens, and not just a few chickens, LOTS of chickens.  They free range without any real coop.  They make their home under the porch, which is surrounded by hay bales.  Months went by before we saw Charlotte again, but one day she was in our back yard, looking healthier than before.  My three year old kept saying “Oh No” and babbling on about a chicken.  She thought one of our chickens had escaped, but nope, it was Charlotte.

Charlotte likes to peck where our chicken coop has previously been.  She finds bits of feed and loves circling our coop while our chickens puff up trying to look tough.  Charlotte will sometimes try to eat the feed right at the edge of the run door and my hens in return will try to peck at her.  I think as time goes by though they are all growing more comfortable with each other.  My hens are a pretty tight group though and they still will cluck and the uninvited visitor.

I’m not quite sure what to do with Charlotte.  I thought over time the neighbor’s other chickens would wander over as well, but Charlotte seems to be keeping the secret to herself, because day after day she is comes into the yard, all by her lonesome.  When I try to catch her she usually will head back to the fence and hop over.  I caught her tonight, but at a loss what to do with her I gently placed her at the top of her fence so she could fly back into her yard.  While Charlotte is quite cute, I’m worried as she continues to visit that she will find our garden a good source of food.  One of the reasons we keep our chickens in their run is so we can still garden.  We let them free range from time to time, but only with supervision, mostly for their safety.

So I’m at a bit of a conundrum.  Another neighbor suggested we put chicken wire around our garden, but that seems like a lot of work just to protect our garden from the neighbor’s wayward hen.  Do I catch her, knock on the neighbor’s door and tell him his chicken keeps getting loose?  If I do that though what is he going to do?  He hasn’t built any sort of home for his chickens besides placing hay bales.  Do I catch her, throw her in with my hens, and then let the neighbor know he can come get his chicken?  This would be a solution if the neighbor isn’t home, but brings up other concerns.  What if she is sick and gets my hens sick?  What if my hens attack her?  I don’t want to call animal services.  I’m in a bit of a conundrum.  What would you do?

Another problem I ran into this season is my seeds.  I have had very few sprouts come up in my greenhouse. I’m not sure if it has been the temperature fluctuations, but they just haven’t been happy enough to come up.  I did get two zucchini sprouts.  One is looking pretty good, but the other one died after a really cold night.    Feeling discouraged, but not giving up I decided to start some seeds inside this past Saturday.

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Thankfully I hadn’t used all of my seeds with the last planting and had enough to replant my entire summer crop and even planted some herbs.  I watered them thoroughly and covered them with the clear cover.  I think though the conditions at first were too humid and moist because I began to get white fuzz on some of the dirt, probably fungus.  I quickly uncovered them and placed them in the sun.  I also sprinkled them with cinnamon , a tip I picked up from Little House on the Beltline http://littlehouseonthebeltline.com/.  I am just praying I get healthy sprouts soon.  I just planted this last Saturday, so I know it is still early.   I do have one little oregano sprout, but what I’m really hoping for is my heirloom seeds.  I haven’t given up yet, and trust me I won’t, but sometimes I wish things went smoother on the garden front.  I am constantly learning and it can be hard.

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I’ve also run into a problem with the 3rd grade cabbage.  I opened up the green house today before heading into work.  I knew the day was going to warm up which would be devastating for the cabbage if left sweltering.  I flipped the clear plastic up and over the top of the greenhouse, but when I got home I noticed the cover had slid back down.  Sure enough the cabbage was a wilted mess.  I quickly brought in the poor plant and watered it thoroughly.  It is now resting comfortably on the kitchen windowsill.  Surprisingly it has perked up quite a bit, so it may just pull through.  My poor daughter felt horribly guilty, so hopefully she will take a more active role in its care.

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Despite many failures, we have had some success on the garden front.  Everything that has been planted directly outside is sprouting nicely.  The spinach, kale, peas, cilantro and even dill are coming up nicely.  The dill is an especially wonderful surprise.  The seeds were from a dried stalk of dill I had from last year, and I’m so pleased they are coming up.  I love fresh dill with my eggs.  The success with direct ground planting makes me want to skip sprouting indoors altogether.  I think it is probably unwise to go straight to the ground though with the summer crops.  If this next round of seeds fail me though I may just go that direction.  Wish me luck!

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