A Sandbox for the Chickens

Chickens like to scratch in the dirt, leaf litter and other areas to look for bugs to eat. To help them exercise their natural instincts, we decided to build a sandbox for the chickens near their coop.

Here is a video of the chickens enjoying their sandbox for the first time last fall. You can see them scratching at the surface and then looking for anything that might be edible.

The construction was very simple and cheap. We used 4 logs from downed trees on our property. We just placed them into a rectangle.

The sandbox.

Then, for the sand to fill the sandbox, we used excess sand that was kicked up from the drilling rig when it drilled the holes for our geothermal heating system. I used the loader on the tractor to move the sand. It cleaned up the excess sand in the yard and helped the chickens at the same time.

Chickens explore the sandbox.

Occasionally we rake the top layer if the sand becomes too packed. We also throw some seeds or other food on top of the sandbox to re-generate interest in the sand from the chickens.

Chickens in the Sandbox in the distance.

Snow!

Last winter was very mild overall – we only received around half of the typical snowfall totals (just over 60 inches where normal is over 120 inches). This winter started off on a different note.

First big snowstorm of winter 2016-2017.

The first big storm came right before Thanksgiving – we received almost 30 inches in the first big snowstorm alone.

Here is a picture measuring the snowfall total during the first night of the storm – it was close to 20 inches the first night and near 30 inches when it stopped snowing.

Measuring the snowfall.

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Rainie settles in

Rainie (short for her registered name of “JT’s Elegant Rain”) has now been at her new home for several weeks and has started to settle in.

Her journey from Canada took most of a day – although only about 5 hours of driving – there was an additional multi-hour delay at the border crossing for customs paperwork.  We used a horse transport company that was familiar with the process that made it easy on us to arrange. We used The Horse Limo from Ontario. If you need to ship a horse to or from their neck of the woods, check them out!

I wasn’t quick enough to get any pictures of Rainie actually on the trailer before she was unloaded – but I did manage to get a single shot of the trailer as it pulled away after dropping her off.  Due to a cancellation for another horse and the unique locations on both ends of the route, Rainie got to ride in a large 4 horse trailer by herself which was helpful as Rainie doesn’t like small or cramped trailers.

Horse trailer that delivered Rainie.

After her first night settling in, we stopped by the stable to get to know Rainie better and decided to groom her.

Here is a picture of Rainie about to get groomed – you can see her curly coat.

Rainie preparing for grooming.

Here is a close-up of Rainie’s coat – you can see how her hair is wavy with a little curl.

Close-up of Rainie’s hair.

After a few days of settling in, my wife was able to take Rainie for her first ride since her arrival.

Rainie on a ride.

Both horse and (mostly) rider have a lot to learn and need to get used to each other.

A Horse!

We bought a horse!

Rainie preparing for a test ride.

We spent several weekends in the late fall traveling around the region looking for a horse. Due to horse allergies, we needed to locate a specific breed of horse which is more hypoallergenic than normal horses. That breed is the Bashkir Curly, also called the North American Curly Horse, or simply Curlies. Curlies have finer, curly hair (somewhat similar to a poodle or other hypoallergenic dog) compared to other horse breeds.

After several weekend trips the northeast U.S., we took a trip to Ontario, Canada to visit several more Curly breeders / owners. It was there that we met Rainie, a 9-year old Bay-colored Curly-Friesian cross.

Rainie out on a test ride.

Rainie out on a test ride.

Click through for more pictures, video and information about Rainie.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Lucky Penny Acres!

It is hard to picture Thanksgiving without thinking of turkey.

We have a local flock of wild turkeys that visits our yard every few days, especially during the spring and summer. This year, the primary visitors were a single hen with around 4 poults (baby turkeys).  Occasionally, the flock would consist of several hens with even more young turkeys.

They tend to avoid people and if anyone tries to approach too closely, they usually scatter into the trees.

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Wild turkeys in the front yard.

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Wild turkeys in the backyard.

Happy Halloween from Lucky Penny Acres!

Happy Halloween from Lucky Penny Acres!

This year the goats decided to dress up for Halloween with Beanie and Harriet the most excited to join in without eating their costume!

Beanie wearing a witch hat.

Boo!

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Harriet dons a costume.

The dogs refused to be left out of the fun. Here is Shaffron wearing her witch costume.

Shaffron in costume.

Shaffron in costume.

Click through for pictures of the fearsome Pennyguin!

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Integrating the New Hens

You may recall that we picked up a couple of new hens from the NY State Fair earlier in the fall. We quarantined them in the chicken tractor for a few weeks to make sure they settled in to the new area and they were healthy.

After a couple of weeks and no signs of illness, we moved the chicken tractor into the field with the main flock so the new hens could see and smell the main flock while safely in the chicken tractor. Many members of the main flock crowded around the chicken tractor to meet the new hens.

The main flock meets the new hens.

The main flock meets the new hens.

Neither the main flock nor the new hens seemed troubled by each other and we were hopeful that the full integration would be successful.

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Defending the Homestead

Out in the country, traditional home defense products, like standard alarm systems, aren’t as effective because of the long distance and time before assistance can arrive. So, you have to go back to what worked in simpler times.

After some thought, we decided to build a moat around the house. Here are some pictures of the preparations for the moat going about 1/3 of the way around the house. It is approximately 10 feet wide and about 6 feet deep.

A view of the moat in progress.

A view of the moat in progress.

Another view of the moat.

Another view of the moat.

Another view of the moat with the backhoe.

Another view of the moat with the backhoe.

Click through for more information about the moat.

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The Cows Head Home

With the summer winding down, it was time for the 3 tenant cows to head back to their home farm for breeding before winter.  Now the goats get to have the run of the pastures until spring.

Here is a close-up of the cows at their water trough a few days before they went back home. Bell comes up close to check out the camera.

Click through for more pictures of the cows.

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