Breakfast at TBN Ranch

Meal worms and lettuce. No thanks I’ll pass, but the hens are sure happy! Summer has arrived and although we’ve been experiencing cooler than normal temperatures, today will will be around 100 degrees. Well it was nice while it lasted, next week 103, next month, 110-115.  Month after, monsoon floods, wicked winds, and dust storms. Yes, I moved here on purpose, lol.

My garden is blooming, this stunning wall of flowers will thrive all summer and well into November.




Garden Woes

TBN Ranch Bunnies

After planting a billion sunflower seeds the last surviving seedling has been devoured by rabbits. I have a rabbit problem here, they live and breed everywhere, in the hay room, under the feed shed, even the chicken coops. This morning a new litter of tiny bunnies were found under one of the chicken shelters.

I’m beginning to realize what I can plant and what’s a big waste of time. Cactus are never bothered, so I thought maybe all thorny vegetation would survive and planted a beautiful pink rose bush.  Well yesterday morning it was nothing more than a near naked bald stick in the ground.  Off to the shed I went and got four stakes and some chicken wire in hopes of saving it.

Pink Rose Bush
Pink rose stick bush

I hate chicken wire, handling this jagged and unruly material is like volunteering to bleed to death. By the time this unscheduled chore was complete the temperature was 95 degrees, my arms were half shredded and I was toast.

And another thing,  why are wire cutters always substandard? I now have four pair, even the expensive ones work hardly better than if I chewed the wire off with my teeth. Ibuprofen should be shrink wrapped to this inadequate time consuming tendonitis causing tool. So all  this drama for one little rose bush. Maybe I’m overlooking the obvious… perhaps my forte is raising rabbits, not gardens.

Chicken Coop Housekeeping

Deep Litter Method in the Chicken Coop

For less maintenance, the deep litter method is something you may want to consider. The best way is to use wood pellets, or pine shavings. Every few days or so you’ll need to turn the litter using a rake or shovel.  The chickens will scratch around in it which helps, but it’s better to stir the top droppings to the underneath to assist in the decomposing process.

As the bedding and droppings decompose underneath, the amount of bedding will shrink, so about every three months you’ll need to add more, keeping the depth to about six inches. Using this method the odor is minimal, and is an excellent heat source in cold weather as decomposing litter produces heat similar to composting.  This is a great alternative to daily cleaning, and a real time saver considering you’ll only need to clean out the coop or chicken enclosure twice a year. I don’t recommend this method during the summer months, it makes good sense to avoid a heat source during elevated temperatures.

Don’t forget that the decomposed litter from the coop is perfect for the garden, adding rich nutrients to the soil!  Or, continue to compost until it is reusable as clean dirt. You may want to return it to your chicken yard to replace/add to existing ground footing.

Learn more about composting:

• Wood Shavings
Like straw, wood shavings are available in bale form. They are soft and good for drainage, however, wood shavings are usually slightly more expensive than straw. The layers of shavings and chicken mess do not adhere together quite as thoroughly as layers of straw, making wood shaving-lined chicken runs easier to clean than those lined with straw.

Pine shavings, available at your local feed store.

• Wood Pellets
Wood pellets are small chunks of compressed sawdust that are available at any barbecue or heating supply store. Though they are generally sold to be a heat source or cooking fuel, unused pellets can also be used as chicken run bedding either on their own or mixed with wood shavings. Wood pellets will last longer than straw or shavings, but they are also more expensive.

Wood pellets, available at Home Depot, Lowes, and sometimes feed stores.