Puppy Power

Everyone talks about crazy cat people….but very rarely do you hear about the crazy dog people. We have 3. May, our 14 year old Jack Russell, Molly, our 4 year old Beagle/Springer, and Mikey, our 3 year old Basset/Dachshund mix. The rescue that we work with, Recycled Tails, where we got Mikey from, had a litter of black lab puppies come up from South Carolina. Well….uh….we kind of got one! We now have a black lab puppy, making our 3, 4. Of course, he had to have an “M” name to go with the rest of the crew. After some trial names and back and forth, we landed on Murphy, Murphy George to be exact. In true Swenda fashion, Murphy has turned into “Mur,” “Murph,” “Murphle,” and “Derp.” Our dogs will never have normal names.

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He is exceptionally smart and is taking to potty training very well. Murphy is the happiest little puppy. He is the best little cuddle bug and I am soaking in all of the love and affection and the ability to carry him around while he is still so little.

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Sooo, we didn’t get chickens this summer, but we did end up with another dog!

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If you are interested in adopting a new friend, volunteering, fostering, or just helping out, you can see my interview with Heidi Evans, founder of Recycled Tails HERE! The application to foster/adopt can be found HERE! You can follow them on Facebook HERE!

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Recycled Tails with Heidi Evans

I LOVE dogs. My whole family loves dogs. We actually just love animals in general. We are definitely “zoo” people. We like to visit the zoo and like to think we have one at our house. One thing that we have always been passionate about is rescuing dogs. For years I watched Animal Planet, loving every moment an animal was rescued by the Animal Cops and adopted out to a new and loving home. You can imagine our excitement to start working with a local rescue, Recycled Tails, between our school and work schedules. Father’s Day weekend 2013 we adopted our third dog, Mikey, from Recycled Tails.
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He’s definitely more thrilled to be snuggled than he looks here. We had also previously rescue Molly and May from other rescues.

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I am required to do an interview as a project for school, and thought that if I was going to interview somebody and have to put it on a public platform, it might as well be about something I love, be beneficial and do some good! Somehow in the midst of crazy schedules, Heidi and I found a time that worked for both of us for me to go to the dog lady’s house and interview her!

AS- ME, Anna Swenda HE- Heidi Evans

AS: When did you start RT?
HE: I started Recycled Tails in 2011 after having worked with another rescue since 2005. I’ve been rescuing forever though.

AS: How/why did you start RT?
HE: I’ve rescued animals since I was on my own at 18. If there was an animal somebody didn’t want, I took it in. I was rescuing cats, but cats are a lot harder to adopt out, which is why I kinda switched over to dogs. I had tons of free time and decided to go all out and start my own rescue.

AS: How do you find/receive animals that you get, and where do they come from?
HE: They find me. I get emails everyday all day long. Today I just got an email with 30 dogs from South Carolina that need to go or they get put down. It was literally 30 pictures of dogs with their name, whether they are heart worm positive/negative, do they like other dogs or not and what the cost of rescuing them is. Sometimes people sponsor them which is when people pay the $35 dollars or what ever to get them out of the shelter. So a lot of our dogs come from the south but recently we have been pulling from Camden, New Jersey because they need a lot of help. Or turn ins, people who just can’t keep their dogs anymore.

AS: What kinds of animals do you rescue?
HE: Everything and anything. Everything from exotic birds to horses to pot belly pigs to lizards to rabbits, chinchillas if we have the ability to house them and care for them appropriately we rescue them.

AS: What is the craziest kind of animal you have been asked to rescue/help?
HE: An emu. I got called because if her owner didn’t find a home by Thanksgiving her husband was going to eat her. She had raised this emu from an egg in her house. It was like an ostrich in my barn, I was going to keep her but she didn’t like other farm animals. I found her a place that already had emus and she was terrified of the other emus! She finally went to a family with no other pets. She loved getting sprayed with water, you could pet her- it was one of the neatest experiences of my life. She was that friendly from being hand raised.

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In case you don’t know what an emu looks like…

AS: Do they go through a process once they come to you?
HE: We don’t have a black and white process. I like to keep them for at least a week so that I know if they’re ok with other dogs, if they’re crate trained- kinda test the waters and try to place them in foster homes. I take every animal based on whether or not I personally have space for them. I don’t ever take dogs and go “Oh crap, we have no place to put this dog.” I will never take a dog that I don’t personally have the space to house. From there, after they’ve kind of been evaluated, I try to get them into foster homes.

AS: About how many foster homes/volunteers do you have?
HE: I’d say we have a good 10 regular volunteers who help do stuff. I have a woman who processes applications for me which is a huge help and another woman who does all of the technical stuff for us. She does PetFinder, Facebook, all of that stuff. She can’t foster so that is her contribution, she loves doing it and I am very grateful that she does. Those two woman are my most constant volunteers. Everyone else helps foster, comes to events that kind of thing.

AS:What does being a foster home entail?
HE: You do an application like you are going to adopt a dog. We check with your vet to make sure your other animals are up to date on shots and everything and then they can foster. During foster care all they need to do is take care of the dog. We can even provide food if they want food. They don’t have to pay for vet care, food, anything- just love, care and shelter. That is one of our biggest advertisements because people are afraid it’s going to cost money. It doesn’t have to cost you anything, we appreciate the help, flea and tick medicine, what ever you need we will provide it for you.

AS: What is the average length of time you have an animal before they are adopted?
HE: We get dogs that are adopted in 3 days and others that take a year. 2-3 months would probably be the average. When we get puppies in they fly off the shelves. Older dogs take a bit longer. A white pit bull will minimally take one year. A lot of rescues look at the adoptability of a dog, I don’t. Sometimes I have too, but I will take in older dogs. The longest I had a dog was a year and a half, and it was a pit bull.

AS: What is the average cost per animal for medical/boarding while they are with you?
HE: If they come from the South, it is about $75 to vet them- spay/neuter, vaccinate, and then $75-$100 for professional transport. There are volunteer transports, but it’s drive a bit, switch cars, drive a bit switch cars and dogs can escape. That method tends to be a bit more traumatizing for the dogs. It takes two days versus an overnight trip with the professional transporters. If they come up and they have been honest, it’s about $175-$200 a dog in total. I recently had a dog come up that needed groomed, extensive dental work, neutered, heart worm positive, by the time he’s all said and done he will cost us about $1,000 because they lied about him. The average is $200-$300, but if I get dogs from Camden they are completely vetted and they are volunteer transport so they don’t cost us anything. That’s how we balance out the money, the dogs that cost a lot verse the dogs that are low-cost.

AS: How many animals have you been able to relocate to new homes?
HE: I couldn’t even fathom. I can tell you that my goal now is 5-10 dogs a month because we are such a small operation. Some months are better, some are worse. When I worked at the bigger rescue, we could have 15+ adoptions a week. I wish I had kept track, because I’m sure it’s insane. By the time they go through the process it’s relatively time-consuming. There are places that bring dogs up from the south and have them pre-adopted for when they get here, how many returns do you think they get? I don’t get returns. I don’t want dogs to come back, so I make sure that they are with the right people.

AS: What is your favorite part of the job?
HE: The dogs. And that’s why I’m so glad that I have someone to do the internet part for me, and the paper part for me because I don’t enjoy that. It’s the dogs. It’s caring for the dogs, getting to know the dogs, seeing them fattened after they come in as skeletons, and watching them go to their new homes after being saved from death row. So many of the dogs I get I rescue from a post that says “this dog needs rescued tonight or has until 4pm today,” and all I have to say is “yes” and that dog gets spared. I may not see that dog for two weeks, but it’s alive because, I said yes. So I love meeting new dogs, and making them healthy because we get dogs that have been hit by cars, that are skeletons, that are old, and getting to help them.

AS: What are your biggest challenges facilitating RT?
HE: Finding foster homes. That is my absolute biggest challenge. Finding homes that are committed. People say “I can watch a dog for two weeks” which helps, short-term, but it doesn’t open up a space for me to get a new dog. It’s definitely finding foster homes, and finding people you can trust.

AS: Do you have a favorite adoption story?
HE: My most recent one would probably be Poppy. He was a white pit bull that I had for about a year. He ran free here, no leash, no fence. He was just going to live here forever if he didn’t get adopted. I couldn’t bring him in because he hated cats, but he is definitely one of my most recent favorites. He went to a home where they are willing to put up with anything and take care of him. He definitely fell into the right place.

Poppy!

Poppy!

AS: What fundraising/events do you do for RT?
HE: We just did, what’s become a yearly fundraiser at PJ Ryan’s [in Phoenixville]. They’re great, they let us keep the door entry fee, they don’t charge us to be there or use the space. We’re going to do another one at the Great American Pub in Phoenixville. They are turning their parking lot into a bar, they are letting us close it off, charge a fee, have bands, same type of thing as PJ’s but it’s all going to be outside. We don’t do a ton of fundraising. We live off of our adoption fees and personal donations. Basically, we charge adoption fees and hope that it balances out with the dogs that cost us a whole lot verse the dogs that cost us little to nothing. We try to stay at zero. We never have any extra, but we try to not owe anybody money.

AS: What are some other ways people can help/get involved?
HE: We always have our adoptions nights like down at First Fridays [in Phoenixville], we always need extra hands for that. We also need a fundraising coordinator. I would love that. To have someone just figuring out ways to raise money whether it’s selling pizzas or spaghetti night or what ever. It’s just too much for me to do by myself. So that would be a huge help. But there’s always ways to help. There are events, there’s a girl that comes on Sundays just to walk the dogs. I don’t always have time for that, and she can tell me how they do on the leash and that kind of thing. People are more than welcome to come and just do something like that.

AS: What are some of the most common mistakes people make after they adopt a new animal?
HE: Haha. Over-whelming the animal. Inviting everyone in the neighborhood over and being surprised when it acts out. I always tell people to treat your new animal like a new baby from the hospital. Don’t take it to PetSmart, or all over the place- you don’t know them and they don’t know you. If you get in the shower, put it in the crate, you can’t watch it. Don’t leave it with your children. A dog might be great with my kid, but interpret your child differently and act differently. You have to build trust and assess their behavior for a while. I once had people adopt a black lab, take it right to their friend’s house, the friend reached in to pet him and the dog snapped at him. They tried to put their hand near/in his food bowl the first day and he wasn’t too friendly about it. They wanted to try to bring him back, and I explained that I could not adopt him again since he had “bitten someone,” when they were the ones who had made the poor decision. And they still have him. I check in once in a while and he’s doing great, after they adjusted and realized that they needed to let him settle and get used to everyone and everything first. I always tell people to contact me if they have any issues, I’m a resource. I’m here for you.

AS: Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about adoption or have recently adopted a new pet?
HE: I would say about 98% of our adoptions are foster to adopt. I always push for that, I want to make sure this dog is a good fit for you. It’s like a lease to buy. So many rescues shove their dogs out, and I don’t want to do that. Before you are going to sign an adoption agreement and pay to take a dog for the rest of its life, I want you to make sure that it’s a good fit, before you commit and realize it’s not what you want it to be. I want to make sure the dog is a perfect fit for your home, and if it’s not a perfect dog, that you’re willing to work with it. Just like I said above, make sure it’s a good fit and you are willing to put in the time and effort. And again, I always tell people to contact me if they have any issues, I’m a resource. I’m here for you.

*Foster to adopt is EXACTLY how we ended up with Mikey!!!*

AS: What is the adoption process and about how long does it take?
HE: Super quick because I have somebody else processing applications! We process applications same day. We had one come in today, they’ve already been processed. The first thing we do is call your vet. If your vet gives you an excellent review it’s like you’re already pre-approved. Then we have a meeting, we interview you, you meet the dog. Generally it goes very quickly and it gets done in a couple of days. There is a $250 adoption fee that covers the cost of transport, any vet treatments they need while they are with us, and any general costs for things like food. Some times people are a little farther away so it takes longer. Sometimes they’ll come and meet a dog earlier in the week and then pick them up on Friday so that they are home for the weekend with them. As soon as a dog is adopted and taken home, I am looking to fill that spot already. If I have an inkling, I’ll wait a bit. Even when a dog goes to foster, I wait a bit to make sure that it works out before I fill that spot.

AS: Where can current adoptable animals be found/viewed?
HE: PetFinder.com, RecycledTails.org and we post many of them on our Facebook Page.

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Here are some quick links for the adoption/foster application, RT Swag, and a place to give monetary/supply donations! Be sure to like Recycled Tails on Facebook to learn about upcoming events and keep up with new critters coming in and to celebrate those that find their furever homes! For any questions, you can contact RT at recycledtails@hotmail.com

Thank you so much to Heidi for taking the time to sit down to chat with me and share her heart for rescue! Another HUGE thank you to all of her volunteers and those that make time to participate in RT events, foster, or just give their time to help give the animals that come through a second chance for a fulfilling and happy furever home!

Apple Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Our house has lots of critters. 3 of them to be exact. They drive me crazy. Most of the time I question our sanity and why we even thought having 3 of them would be a good idea. Until they all cuddle up on the couch together to take an afternoon nap and they are adorable. Then I remember why we got them and decide to spoil them with homemade doggy treats. 🙂 This recipe is a bit different than the last dog treat recipe I posted; there is no egg, more apple sauce and much fluffier. Yes, that is Mo sleeping on the arm of the chair with her head on the side table…cuz ya know…manners right?

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Ingredients:

1 cup of flour

1/4 cup oats

1/2 tablepoon of baking powder

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup apple sauce (I used my Homemade)

1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350

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1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If it seems too dry add a tablespoons of water until it is a cookie-dough like consistency. I started using a spoon and switched to mixing with my hand to really make sure everything was incorporated.

2. Sprinkle flour on a surface and roll out to about 1/2 of an inch thick. You can use a cookie cutter, knife or what ever you want to make the desired shape/size of your treats. I used a mini bell cookie cutter.

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3. Place baking paper or a baking mat on a cookie sheet. Place the treats on the sheet leaving a bit of room between them. They won’t expand too much.

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4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before tossing them to the dogs!

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They are completely edible and safe for human consumption….they look pretty close to a recipe for a healthy snack you might see on pinterest actually…. I doubled the recipe knowing that we will be giving them out for Christmas to some of our fury friend lovers. The doubled recipe made about 40. This is dependent on what cookie cutter you use and how thick you roll out the dough. 🙂

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They waited so nicely as I mixed the dough, placed them on the cookie sheets, baked them, and let them cool, of course they each got one…or three for waiting!

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We put some in pretzel baggies to give away for Christmas! They are the perfect size with the perfect amount! 🙂

Gobble Gobble Turkey Time

No. I am not making turkey for dinner. It’s not Thanksgiving. In my family we literally only eat turkey as lunch meat or on Thanksgiving. Which is weird because we like turkey a lot in my house. Hmm.

The other night Eric and I took a pit stop to his grandparent’s farm. Back in the day they had cows. horses, chickens, acres of gardens, all different berries, orchards- the whole nine yards. Now that they have gotten up there in age they keep smaller gardens, some berry bushes and the trees they’ve had for years.

Of course as we walked around we had to stop and check out the blueberries. They’re a bit on the sour side right now still though.

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They do still have chickens AND turkeys. The turkeys are really Eric’s Uncle Watsy’s, but they hang out on the farm none the less.

We took a walk down to the far side of the cleared property to say hello to the chickens. They have a few Red Sexlinks that look pretty darn close to our Rhode Island Reds. We then made our stop at the turkey run. Uncle Wats has 5 hens and one male Wild American Turkey. Can I just tell you, male turkeys are probably one of the ugliest creatures on Earth. Don’t get me wrong, their feathers and tails are pretty cool, but that blue face that turns red is scary. They could make horror movies out of those ugly things. The hens ran around the pen docile and chattering amongst themselves. Willy, the male decided to put on a show and puff himself out. He is a few years old so his gobble isn’t quite as boisterous as it once was.

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We had a jolly good time trying to make turkey noises back at him. The best part was, he answered like we were all having one big conversation. All the same. He’s ugly. Uncle Wats saw that we had stopped by and rode down to meet us.

“Want to see the babies?”

“OF COURSE I WANT TO SEE THE BABY TURKEY’S!”

Being that there is a male in the pen with the females, there are some fertilized eggs now and again. Uncle Wats has 5 little turkeys running around that he has had since eggs. THEY ARE ADORABLE! It beats me how such cute little things can turn into such ugly looking big turkeys. They have completely imprinted on him being that he was the first thing they saw as they pecked out of their shells. They follow him around in a clutch as he makes noises at them almost like a mother hen. It’s absolutely precious. They never wander too far away from him and were quite wary of making our acquaintance. They also never stop moving. I was able to snap just a few blurry pictures of the little guys and gals scurrying around the yard. They also LOVE meal worms, just like chickens. Shocking, I know.

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I can now say that baby turkeys are super cute. Adults aren’t attractive at all. They sure do taste yummy either way! 😀

*Uncle Wats does not ever eat any of this turkeys, nor does anyone else in the rest of the family.*

Babies! And Not Just the Chickens!

We have lots of “little” things around the gardens this week! I can assure you I am NOT growing one myself. Just wanted to clarify so that my mother doesn’t have a heart attack. 🙂 We are hitting that point in the summer where everything is really starting to grow. We have more than just green beans and strawberries coming in! Though, let’s face it, nobody is complaining about either of those things!

First, we’ll check in with the strawberries! They are due for another shoot cut off and bury day in the very near future! They are producing like crazy and it’s wonderful! I love going outside to pick breakfast FRESH every morning!

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Next, the mater plants. It’s like a forest. We have beautiful baby green tomatoes! By the time I get back from my mission trip the first week in August they will be ripe and ready to turn into SAUCE! 😀

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Baby watermelons are the cutest. They’re just adorable. Our watermelon plants are monsters this year and I have a feeling we will have some monster melons to go with them!

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We trimmed the pumpkin back a TON so that the main plant, some choice leaves and the blooms have been left. This helps ensure that the good stuff can go towards making PUMPKINS! 😀

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We’ve got fuzzy little sprouts on a number of our corn plants. Whether or not we get some real ears this year will be the real question! They’re growing like weeds and looking good so we’re hoping we get SOMETHING from them!

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Last, but certainly not least- the ACTUAL babies! THE CHICKENS! I don’t think I can quite call them babies anymore being that they have all of their big girl feathers. They aren’t quite laying yet but we should be getting our first eggs by the end of August! They also, after well over a month, have figured out that they can roost all together in a row on the hockey stick, seen in the first photo in the top right corner. They have all turned gorgeous shades of red, mahogany and brown. Women pay big bucks to have their hair dyed the colors of these girls. Their combs are turning red and their beaks are getting darker. They have totally made friends with Miller, through the fence of course.

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The gardens are producing, growing, and taking over. There is something humbling, earthing, and beautiful about being able to go outside and get fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh green beans for dinner.

Jeremiah 29:5 “ Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;”

Throw the Dog a Bone

We love ALL of our critters and spoil them absolutely rotten. Most people don’t really pay attention to what is in dog treats at their local pet store, because if the pet store is selling it, it can’t really be bad for them right? Kinda like, if the grocery store is selling it, it can’t be bad for us humans, RIGHT!? Home made dog treats are so easy and most people have all of the ingredients to make their fluffy friends a swell treat and they don’t even realize it. Again, most dog treat recipes can be altered and personalized to what you have and your dogs taste buds. Carrots, beef or chicken stock, and apples are just a few doggy favorites that can easily be added into most recipes. This is what we used.

2 tablespoons plain applesauce (3 tablespoons if you want softer treats) I used 3

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1 cup whole wheat/all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup rolled oats

Dash of Cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. The mix is more on the dry side. I added a teaspoon of water to make sure mine was moist enough. A bit more applesauce could have been used as well.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, glass or knife, cut out what ever shapes you’d like your treats to be in.

*I just pulled out some dough, rolled it in my hand and pressed it a bit flat. No need to get the counter all messy!*

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5. Place on a parchment covered cookie sheet at 325 for 15-20 minutes.

Let cool and toss a few to your loving pooch. I have a feeling ours won’t last very long….

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They were obviously super excited to try them!

PS- These treats are just as good for humans as pets. Just a thought. Because really, if you won’t eat it, how can you expect your dog too as well? 😉 And now adorable pictures of them all because, THEY’RE JUST TOO CUTE!

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New Additions

Eric had a brilliant idea. Our girls love roosting together in a row and the balusters we set up aren’t too long. So he put an old hockey stick for them. GENIUS! Of course they weren’t hanging out on it when I went out to take pictures.

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Our gardens have some new additions as well! We have our first baby beans starting to burst through!

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Eric’s tomato plant was the first of them to have a mater bud.

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And the strawberries are coming in strong!

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I plucked a few before work. I meant to take pictures of them but uhhh oops! They were delicious!

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Meeting the Neighbor

Our super nice neighbors have a super adorable dog named Miller. Miller is our friendly bud who loves to run over to our side of the yard to say hi…all of the time. He also LOVES swimming. They too have a pool and he has learned how to use the ladder to get both in and out when he’s not super-dog jumping in. He’s an absolute sweetheart and while Eric and I were out checking on the girls, Miller decided to pay a visit.

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He just wanted to play with them! He had been around chickens before, so he was very aware of them. The pen stood up to his gentle giant pawing, in his feeble attempt to say “hi.” I’m now pretty confident that the pen and coop are predator proof. 😉 And being the sassy ladies that they are, they stood right along the fence taunting the poor guy like the knew he couldn’t bust through and get them.

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They also discovered the nesting boxes. Their first few days they stayed on the lower level and grass. Eric went out and plopped them all up there the day before so that they would figure it out. By this evening they were “flying” up and down, not even using the ramp. By the time we said goodnight to Miller (and the neighbors) the four of them were all settled up in their boxes for the evening.

The other great entertainment of the day was watching one of the girls get a worm while the other three chased her around the run in an attempt to get a piece of the delicious new treat.

I believe I can officially say the chickens have made a fully successful transition into their new home.

Early Summer Harvest and Chicken Changes

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WE GOT POTATOES! We had a few plants that were ready to be dug up and by golly we did it! Our biggest ones were about the size of a small lemon all the way down to about a marble. Eric was so excited I made stew with them the other night. It got chilly up here with the rain, and so that was his request. We still have about half of our tater plants in the ground so hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be pulling some more.

Some things we’ll do differently ned year-

SAND! We always add a bit of sand to the soil to help loosen it up, but being that potatoes grow underground, we’re pretty sure they only grew so much because the ground was a bit too hard. We will be cultivating a specific area with extra sand and till the ground a bit more in that specific area. Hopefully with these little changes we’ll have some bigger ones!

Not too shabby for our first time growing them!

The rest of the garden is in full bloom!

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We spent a good half hour weeding and working the strawberry patch. Eric covered shoots, transplanted whole plants and worked the whole patch. It’s suddenly gotten a bit out of hand! We had a good passing storm that uncovered half of them so we had to go back out and re-cover the shoots. Quite a few had finally taken root and were ready to be “cut off” from the mother plant. You can learn more about controlling a strawberry patch in my post Root and Shoot.

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Once again our pumpkin plant is kicking butt! Hopefully these big leaves will turn into big blooms and giant pumpkins this fall!

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We’ve got some friends hanging around the gardens too. We have little pencil toads EVERYWHERE! Hundreds of them. In the grass, around the pool, in the gardens, the chicken run- EVERYWHERE! We also have a mating pair of doves in close proximity. This pretty lady hung out in our green bean sea while we worked in the strawberry patch. She probably would have let me touch her I was able to get so close. Pandora, chatting, and walking around and through the gardens didn’t bother her one bit. It’s like she knew we wouldn’t bother or hurt her.

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AND the most exciting part of the weekend!? THE BABIES ARE OUT! They have finally been transported from their heat lamp, cozy little crate to the big outdoors! They spent the first 12 hours or so huddled in the coop in a corner. They hadn’t ever seen or been on grass before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. They sat and stared at their food and water dishes across the run for hours. By the next morning they were running around like they owned the place. One of them finally took the plunge to the great expanse of their new home. They thoroughly enjoy smooshing themselves all onto one roosting baluster and knock each other off. They are now LOVING the grass and are settling in quite nicely. It’s getting much harder to tell them apart now that their big girl feathers are all coming in! No more blondies in the group.

Coop and Poop but the Chickens are CUTE!

While the babies have been inside growing and hanging out under the heat lamp, Eric and I have been hard at work putting together their new home. And by Eric and I being hard at work I mean mostly Eric. 😉 Thankfully, though we no longer have Penny, we have lots of containment items from when we had her! We had a 6×8 chain link outdoor pen with a door that was no longer in use. We removed one of these sides to install the coop at the open end. By doing this the chickens have a good bit of area to cluck around and the coop isn’t taking up any ground space. We then took plywood and 2x4s to fashion the bones of the coop. The roof of the coop is on hinges to allow us access to the nesting boxes and eggs.

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We made upper level nesting boxes and roosting/hangout space on the bottom. With the pen having a door and the coop having the hinged roof, cleaning is a breeze.

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Like the idea of a removable pan in a dog crate, we created the same concept in the coop to make cleaning easy.

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Due to our semi-rural location, we do have predators like skunks, fox, and snakes. EEK! To add extra layers of protection, we added tiny wire fencing around the entirety of the pen/coop about 2 feet high to make getting in extremely hard and our chickens can’t quite poke their heads out. The whole structure is also sitting on 4x4s to deter diggers from getting under the fencing. Essentially- Predator proof.

The girls will finally be getting to move into their new home by the end of the week! Now that they have had a solid 2 weeks or so under the lamp, they have grown almost double since we got them and my 2 blondies are going red!