Melonie Corder

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since Dec 28, 2020
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Recent transplant for all the right reasons, now learning to live in all four seasons.
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Middle of South Dakota, 4a
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Recent posts by Melonie Corder

Rabbits will chew out of that in a hurry. I provide small pieces of wood for mine. I've watched them rip chunks out like mini beavers.

1x1 is too large of an opening for any rabbits feet as well. Full grown rabbits need support under their pads, even in wire cages with smaller openings most people provide a resting pad of flat wood or metal.
6 hours ago
Are your chickens free range?

This is the time of year they want to brood and will hide a nest site if able. It just takes one hen being broody and all the others seem to bend to her will.

Mine stopped laying a few weeks ago. A few days in I saw one hovering near our large hay bale. After some investigating I found they had built a nest under the tarp and it had all twenty-four eggs I was missing in it. Why use a safe, stable nest box when you can get creative?

If you are feeding them adequately, which it seems you are, that would be the next thing I check.
6 hours ago
We do a few kinds but our main is a cold compost pile. That's where the majority of the bulk I don't use as mulch goes.

Most of our food scraps go to chickens. Our compost is a mix of chicken litter, rabbit manure, grass and leaves. Before our fire we were growing mushrooms and had a ton of sawdust as well. We throw some ash in every now and then when we have a 'clean' burn. At the beginning of Spring I kind of dig out the underneath portion and stir up what has sat since last year.

The weeds I pull are invasive. Canadian Thistle, Japanese Bindweed and one of the rhizome grasses, assuming crab but unsure. Those all get submerged in water to make weed tea. I'll often add some rabbit poo for a kick.

I have a hot compost started and had great results with one before. This one is only being built/added to now as I mow and clean animal pens. I haven't started the cooking process but might have enough this week.

When I lived in the PNW I never understood why people bothered seemed we would add food and worms would work it in. A few weeks later, black gold! In this new climate it has been interesting to learn how differently things break down with less moisture. I mean, I understand the concept, but it's been fascinating to watch whole squash turn into hollow shells instead of piles of mush...

7 hours ago
Oh, yes, I feel you on all of this. My husband works FT and the only thing he see's as needs are maintaining the lawn area but does readily help when needed, that is something I'm grateful for.  It may be out of ignorance more than anything, I've been at this awhile longer. Each year he has gotten more involved with gardening, I think he enjoys erecting our trellising.

Sorry about your birds, it is one of a few good things about living in a town. We have a lot less predator pressure, coyotes are kept away by the local dogs (which are a problem themselves at times). We are hoping to get another pup that can protect the yard at night as we get more established. Our current boy is getting old.

After raising birds for many years in different places this is the first time it has gotten ahead of me.  I use to brag to my man about not having a chicken math wife, lol. There by the grace of God go I...The fire has really thrown a loop and with major food insecurities I'm not willing to go into winter without the freezer full so it got me. Small blessing by the fire was all the extra wood we recieved as the old ceiling came down to make way for the joist system. Lots of good quality 2x6, some 14'long! Recycling did slow it down though. So the majority of the coop was built with that, should hold up to our winter winds. Due to single income money holds me up a lot, I make a couple hundred in side jobs but that feeds the animals. I utilize our local dump often, pallets are used with scrap wood to hold up our cattle panel hoop houses. I move them often, changing the size and cover from tarp, shade cloth and plastic... My plan is to incorporate one on the south side of the coop for a covered winter run. Luckily I have a few months to get to it

I'm excited for your garden blooming, it's a great time of year. Hope next week brings sunny skies and warm breezes!

Michelle Heath wrote:Thankfully I've never experienced a fire but have had plenty of setbacks over the years.

I've come to realize that if something is going to get done around here, I will be the one to do it.   My hubby is great to help when I ask but to willingly tackle something that needs done--not so much.

I'm currently chicken-less due to the fact that coyotes are rampant and our former chicken house (garden shed now) is just too far from the house to offer any additional protection from predators. Plan is to build a smaller chicken house closer to our house using lumber from an old building we recently tore down,  I've learned the hard way to have accommodations for animals in place before introducing the animals.  Otherwise it's a scramble to get everything completed and just creates more stress.

Unfortunately I can't seem to transfer that line of thinking to the garden as I'm always creating new spaces to accommodate the plants that I have grown or acquire.  For instance,  my paste tomatoes are waiting for their bed to be completed before I can plant them.

Staying focused is a major problem for me as im a bit of a spontaneous soul.  However I constantly remind myself that if I want it done, I need to just get if done.  Also many projects get thwarted by lack of funding.   We are self-employed and to us that means that we are not guaranteed a regular paycheck and some months are better than others.  I'm a firm believer in reusing materials, but sometimes projects get held up by purchases that need to be made.  My hoophouse is officially into the second year of not getting setup due in part to changing how I want to do it but mostly because I need to make enough money to finish it.

I just had a frustrating week in which other obligations kept me from my home, garden and family for the most part.  I was feeling particularly aggravated until I went into the nursery area I have fenced off and too, marvel in all of the plants I've raised from seed, all the cuttings that are flourishing and all of the clearance plants, shrubs and bulbs I took a chance on in their playing dead state.  Although it will be a great deal of work getting them all planted, just knowing that they are thriving is a great morale booster.

So when things aren't going the way you intended or you're feeling overwhelmed,  find a happy place in you home or garden and just relax a bit.  It really does help.

4 days ago

Took a bit but I've gotten some things done and feeling capable right now :)

The coop took me forever and is only 90% but works. I need to add some support to the roof structure before winter. Already wishing I'd made it bigger but alas...
I've integrated the eleven teen birds with the older flock successfully and  working on the two smaller ones. A secure fence is in place so they'll stay out of planting areas.

Meat chickens arrived early, on the 26th, of course. So I scrambled and moved the two chicks into a rabbit tractor I have and got the meaties into the brooder. Cornish X and Royal Grey to try the breed out. By week two the Cornish were twice the size of the others, by week three they were squishing them at night. We repurposed another tub for the smaller birds until they were ready to go out. Last week I was able to move the two layers out into our old small coop and put meaties outside in tractors. They are rabbit tractors with wire on bottom but will work until I get the other ones built this week. The plans are made, wood is cut but I am out of wire. At least they are no longer stinking up the garage.

So far no sign of baby bunnies but rabbit still stays put. She appears to have dug herself a nice tunnel system, that will be intersting to fall into sometime. No babies are a good thing, until I catch up at least. Ha. Otherwise I need to take down the winter tunnel and reappropriate for the season.  I'm hoping to have all rabbits in tractors by July but have to find a vet first to spay some of them.

The garden is really starting to burst and I'm so excited each time another perennial makes its appearance. Purple and yellow flowers are definitely winning right now. Been finding lots of baby honey locusts I hope to relocate into a fodder patch as well. All winter dead has been chopped and dropped, along with lots of grass. My main weeds are Japanese bindweed, crabgrass and Canadian thistle so I don't chop and drop those often. Sometimes, if I'm in a rush and I'll try to pull the root the next time around. All of those get turned into plant food via soaking or squeezing the matter.

The fence is on pause. We set our posts deep but have had an extra wet Spring here. Pulling the fencing when the ground is so wet may not be wise so we are waiting it out.
Everything else seems to be moving forward. Contractor has been around, meeting with our adjuster to make needed changes and get some questions answered. Hoping this positive feeling sticks.

Melonie Corder wrote:

Rabbits. I have a rabbit that was loose for awhile and may have given birth once back in the hoop. She just roams the floor because I was short cages. IF she has kits in the tunnel they are about to start emerging so I need to trap them and relocate with mama. Then I have two tractors to build and want to butcher three more adults before too much longer. We just put four in the freezer a week ago. Those furs need to be thawed and tanned as well.

Garden. Of course this is where I want to spend my time now. Hoping the soil will soothe my mind. I'm dividing a large previously tilled area into layered beds, hoping to have that done today. I've been working on it here and there.  All my small tree guilds need the dead cut back after winter still. I did get the currants pruned and strawberry beds cleaned up in the past couple weeks. We are also building a fence but that is weekends only while my other half is here.

Home. We had a fire last year and are in the middle of rebuilding. The large amount of choices to be made boggle my mind, I wasn't ready for this adventure at all. We loved our old home and there is no way to get it back really. The itemizing personal item part of the insurance has become overwhelming, to say the least. We are super blessed to have had proper coverage, as well as many other resources. It's still depressing to sit down to every time but it needs to be completed and so it's on the list. The mental health issues the situation caused have taken a huge toll on my productivity in all areas.

Garage/Detached shop. After the incident mentioned above it's become our defacto home. We are staying at a neighbors but have so many things there. It desperately needs cleaned and organized. This will most likely be last priority, done during the heat of summer or on a stormy day.

So there it is.  I'm really trying to spend some time on the coop today in between homeschooling and running to ice skating. My hand is healed now and we are down to days before I need to play musical chickens so I think it's what is needed next. I'll try to get some pictures up in the comments.

4 days ago
Thank you for all the feedback. So far has been okayish. The two little ones have had access to the outside for long periods, today is day three. There is the little hatch but because it has wire over part they seem to have a hard time finding it while panicking. I heard them yelling for help and saw the more timid chick jump through the hatch but the other chick was kind of cornered by the teen birds on both sides and couldn't get in.

I didn't see any actual aggression from the older birds but they definitely roam in gangs.  I've seen the braver younger one foraging next to our Roo and he didn't react at all.

Today I'll be breaking down one of our slash piles and plan to give build up more hiding places so if they are stuck out they can still find safety. Might build a little tunnel in/out of the hatch to help them find it? Also added a new grow box for grains so that will keep some interest of the older birds for awhile. Still keeping an eye on things. A couple of my Americanas seem like they could be awnry.

Also, wanted to add how I went about integrating the teens with larger birds in case anyone ever wonders. The teens were in a tractor with an animal carrier for a coop. The older birds had been around them alot while they free ranged during early Spring. When I moved the adults from their smaller coop (the one the two chicks are now in) to the larger coop I moved the tractor in the run at the same time and let out the teen chicks. For about a week I let the birds get to know each other in the "yard" which was technically new to all. Then I removed the tractor and left the carrier next to the coop door. That evening I went and took the teen birds from the animal crate (that they now all pile on each other into as they outgrew it) and put them into the coop. They first kept coming back out but after repeatedly putting each back I think it finally got too dark for them to see what they were doing. They next night they were perched in there as if it was no thing.
5 days ago

Jay Angler wrote:How closely can you supervise the first "visits"?

Will you be on property and able to do the first visit for a short period, like an hour?

Do you own a water gun? (small pistol size is fine) When my friends it doing integrating, she has the water gun loaded and near by. Chickens *really* don't like being sprayed. A hose is really bigger than ideal, although I have used it at times. I expect a certain amount of pecking, but there are times when a hen is just plain too aggressive and water usually gets them to stop.

I agree with all the points Karen Lee Mack said. Because personality is a factor, I have found there's simply no guaranteed approach. Observing and having a number of things in your tool-kit is important.

Oh, I should've mentioned. Yes, I can be on the property most of the time. Today I gave them the option for a couple hours and it went well with one younger chick venturing out on her own. Love the water gun idea, I often splash water at our Roo if he gets too riled up.
1 week ago

Karen Lee Mack wrote:It might be enough. Unfortunately it depends on the personalities of the chickens involved particularly the ability of the two younger birds to get to cover.

Another technique I have used, sometimes successfully, is to switch and put some of the older birds in the small pen when I let out the younger birds.
Especially helpful if you identify some of the higher ups on the pecking order.
If you possibly have another pen, I'd do both of these at the same time.
And if you have anything else that can act as cover - like something too short for
the older birds to get under easily, also use that. Even more things to go around can help.

Yet one more thing, I used to hang strips of bacon in the pen to cut down on pecking.
Anything that distracts your birds will help.

Wishing you every bit of luck with integrating your chickens.

Their run is outfitted with some random branches attached to a pallet, other evergreen branches leaning on fence for shade/cover as well as the tiny coop within and it's little run. Today we did a trial and one of the younger chicks did venture out, much to the dismay of the other I added their daily scraps to busy the older birds. It even made it to the scrap pile where it was quickly shown it's place and ran back to try to find it's way back in, which was not successful. The older birds did not pursue so that was positive, I expect a bit of chastising.

1 week ago
Chicken math caught up with me this year. I've managed to keep it under control until now. In March I started with one Roo and Six hens.

Now I have:

One Roo, Six Hens --2 years old
Nine hens, two Roos?? -- 2.5 months old
2 Hens??-- 1.5 months old

Ten Cornish X
Eleven Royal now, two months later, almost 40 birds. Ugh.

Okay, the actual question has to do with integrating the youngest two hens with the older bunch. I integrated the 2.5 month olds last week. I believe their numbers helped them avoid getting to picked on by the larger birds. The younger two are much smaller then the 18 older birds though they do need to go out.

Currently they've been in a small pen inside they larger pen for the past week. They pace the pen all day wanting to get out and play in the run. I've always gotten my birds all at once or integrated adults, this is the first time smaller chicks are being added. I do have the ability to open a tiny hatch on the smaller pen allowing the smaller chicks out and the larger birds cannot get in, so they have a place to escape IF they can find that hatch again. Do you think that is enough?  

1 week ago

Delyla Wilson wrote:The problem Elle faced with their  first LGD is why I stress good breeding. Humans have an amazing ability to breed instinct right out of dogs as we breed them toward being pets instead of partners. This is why a dog raised with livestock can be terrible while one raised as a house dog can turn into amazing guardians. I don't believe we can teach them to be guardians - they either have the inherited ability or not - what we teach them is how to live with us.

And Andrew's concerns about barking are one of the major challenges faced by folks with small farmsteads, neighbors who don't want to listen to a dog bark all night. One of the reasons I am in love with Karakachans is that, due to the nomadic nature of the peoples that bred them, they are significantly less barky than our sweet GP even though she raised him so I though he would surely follow her lead.

Hi Delyla,

Are you still working with these dogs? What size is a small homestead to you? We are currently in talks for a new pup, our current boy is getting up in the years and he really misses his late sister, it's been a few years now. We have had an unfenced property and our old boy just stays put, doubt a puppy would have so much self control. But now that is changing and our fence is half installed.

While we would love a LGD for our chickens and rabbits back there, I run them in tractors, we just assumed our one acre isn't enough. In the future we may have livestock on acreage away from our home and may want them there. Is it possible to have a happy LDG in a half acre backyard at night? During the day they would have access to the other half in the front as well but we have an alley running through our land so fence will need closed.

1 week ago