Nest Boxes and Pickles

We had yet another packed weekend – there isn’t one that goes by that doesn’t have a checklist of chores and projects of some kind that we are endeavoring to get done. Our chicken coop has needed some attention, and so that was the focus over the past couple of days. We moved the nest boxes so that instead of being stacked high vertically:

The old nest box configuration

These are now sitting at single-height, because we think the birds are more likely to make use of all of them. When we originally put them up, we had visions of creating roosts on the boxes, too, so that these would be a dual-purpose structure. Since there would be roosts, we thought the higher boxes would be easy to reach, particularly for the Bantams, who are quite able fliers. However, we’ve since realized that this is the better setup:

The new nest box configuration

We are working on getting the electrical in the coop completed too, and made good progress on that as well. While working in the coop, we were able to catch our one Welsummer hen (who has stubbornly refused to lay inside the nest boxes) in the act of nesting in the corner. We were persistent in removing her and placing her in a nest box – and it finally paid off. She laid her first egg in the nest box, and it seems like she gets it now. We are hoping that there will be no more egg scavenger hunts required. Of course, who knows – with all of these juvenile birds coming into laying age soon, we are hoping that they have observed the adults plenty and will use the nest boxes accordingly. Speaking of juvenile birds coming of age, our little Mille Fleur rooster, Billy Badass, is walking with 73% more strut lately. He’s just got more ego than should be contained in that small of a body. When he sees our seven-month-old Welsummer Roo mating with one of the hens, he starts flying up in their business, as if he’s taunting Roo, “You call THAT fertilizing an egg?? Pffft!” I keep trying to catch it on video, but he never does it when I have the camera, and frankly, I’m concerned about being able to hold the thing stable when it does happen, as I’m laughing so hard. I made dill pickles from cucumbers on Friday – 19 quarts of whole, slices, and spears. And I have more cukes now that need to be made into bread & butter pickles.

Pickles!

We’ve also tied up some of our plethora of heirloom tomato vines. I’m really hoping that all of this green fruit starts to turn red soon. I’m concerned that we got the plants in too late in the season (first week of June) and the frost will come before they can ripen. Last year, the summer was so cold and wet, they had trouble ripening, and I had to bring them to red in brown paper bags, and they made lovely sauce, but I am really hoping for a real sun-ripened crop this year. We didn’t grow our own corn this year, but I did get some from another local farm this afternoon. I’m looking forward to enjoying some at dinnertime, and as it’s coming up quickly, I should wrap things up here so that I can get that started!

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