Are They Slacking?

20130122-IMG_8330-Edit

This morning I found what appeared to be rat poo in the goat barn.  I haven’t seen a trace of rodents for months, thanks to my awesome barn cats, so this was disturbing to say the least.  If there’s one thing I’m deathly afraid of, it’s rats and mice.  Just the thought of them makes me shudder.  So I don’t know if the cats are getting fat and lazy or what, but this is intolerable.  I can’t put poison out, obviously, and there’s no way I could haul a trap out with a rodent in it.   I’ve decided I’m going to try a natural rodent repellent–peppermint.  I’ve heard that they hate the smell of it and won’t come near it.  Same thing with toilet blocks.  Apparently you can also spread used cat litter around, sprinkled with a little extra ammonia, to keep them away.  Tonight when I do chores I will spread several cottonballs soaked in peppermint essential oil along the walls where I saw the poo, and hopefully that’ll be the end of it.

Wild Weather

20130202-IMG_8486

All in the span of a few days last week we had temps in the 70s, followed by a powerful cold front that produced a tornado in our area, followed by snow.  I’ve read other bloggers accounts of their chickens not venturing out in the snow, but I didn’t even think to check on mine.  I was too excited about getting pictures of my horses in the snow and had to work quickly as the snow was gone about as fast as it came and will probably be the only snow we get!  I’m really curious if they did go out in it.

20130206-IMG_8536

We got our cold frame built and planted onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage and parsley.  I haven’t seen any signs of sprouting yet, though.  Because the soil is cooler than it would be in the house it’ll take longer.  How much longer I don’t know, this is an experiment.  I just don’t have room to start seeds in the house and haven’t had much luck doing it that way anyway.  They’re usually spindly and weak, even though I have them under lights.  On a sunny day the temperature in the cold frame rises quickly to 80 degrees or more, and I take the glass off to allow some air flow to cool it down.  Otherwise it stays around 50-70 degrees.  We used mostly scrap wood to build it and found the windows on Craigslist.

20130206-IMG_8538

We filled milk jugs with water and painted them black to help retain heat.  We stapled 1 inch chicken wire to a frame, laid that on top of the seed flat, planted a seed in each cell, and then covered the seeds with more seed starting mix.  I’m very hopeful we’ll have good luck with this method.