Spring Cleaning!

21 May

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It’s been a muddy, wet and cold spring here in Boulder, and while our girls love scratching around in the mud for bugs, it makes for quite the mess.  Now that the weather seems to have calmed down and dried out (for now at least), it’s time for a good old spring coop cleaning.  Particularly given the close proximity of coop-to-house, it’s important for urban farmers to keep a clean coop.  It cuts down on flies and other unwanted critters, keeps things smelling nice, and most importantly keeps the girls healthy.  So here’s a quick rundown of a solid cleaning for our henhouse.

Step One: Get it all out! Chickens, bedding, roosting bars, nest box material, and any coop accessories you might have (we have baby chick pictures from when the girls were little as well as mirrors, curtains, and a pink chandelier).

Step Two:  Choose your cleaner! We choose not to use heavy chemicals like bleach, but still want a super clean and disinfected end product.  Instead we mix up a bucket of diluted WHITE vinegar (not apple cider vinegar, as this attracts fruit flies)  with warm water at about a 1:1 ratio. Vinegar is a great cleaning agent that can be used for all kinds of things, and if the smell isn’t your favorite, you can add a few things to help – tea tree oil (also a natural disinfectant), or let citrus peels and cinnamon sticks sit in the vinegar/water solution for 30 days or so and then clean (congrats, you just made your own cleaning solution).

Step 3:  Start scrubbing, making sure to get in all the hard to reach spots – up high, in the corners, everywhere.  Also be sure to scrub your nest boxes, and roosting bar, and any other items that live in the coop.  Don’t forget windows and ramps to the coop, and now’s a great time to do a good scrub on feeders and founts.

Step 4:  Rinse and let dry! We have to help hard-to-drain spaces dry by using old rags or paper towels.  Once dry, put some nice new fluffy bedding in the coop and nest boxes (we use hay in the nest boxes, as it’s thinner and less hollow than straw, and therefore harder for mites to inhabit).  You can take it to a whole new level of luxury for your hens if you want to herbs to their nesting boxes, but this is a topic for another post!

Step 5:  Rake and sweep chicken run area.  Make sure feeders and founts are sitting in secure and clean locations, and rebuild or secure any roosts, stumps or fixtures you may have in your run.

Step 6: Return chickens to their beautiful, clean coop, and feel good knowing that they feel good!  Best to do this kind of clean at least twice a year, and always keep up on the quick cleans throughout the year.

Happy Chicken keeping!

Agritourism. The New Tourism?

1 May

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Us Folks at The Savvy Hen are bursting at the seams to open our doors.  We just can’t wait.  But sometimes we have to wait.  Lucky for us, the shop will be located in a beautifully restored late 1800’s building.  The restoration process however, has brought some surprises, and therefore, delays.  So instead of fretting about things that are beyond our control, we felt a last minute trip was in order, and that trip should be in honor of The Savvy Hen.  So, we headed on down to Belcampo Lodge in southern Belize for a short, but magical trip.

A true agritourism destination, Belcampo includes 3,000 acres within a 12,000 acre preserve.  The lodge has chickens, pigs, and extensive gardens and orchards which provide food for guests and employees.  Additionally, they have just planted sugar cane so that they can produce their own rum, as well as cacao trees from which they are making delicious chocolate.  This farm, easily one of the largest employers in the area, also works hard to support other local and smaller farmers as well.  They regularly visit town market days to supplement their menu, and export much of their coffee and cacao (and will do the same with the rum), as not to undercut other local and smaller producers.  It was an inspiring experience, and highlights the importance of local, sustainable, and responsible agricultural practices no matter where the location.  Having experienced this, I know our future travels will incorporate agritourism whenever possible, and we encourage you all to try the same….

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Spring Is Here!

15 Apr

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Spring is finally here, and we are getting excited to open our doors!  We have a fantastic location on Pearl Street, just a few blocks east of the walking mall, and renovations are underway to restore this great historic building.  We’ll be opening later this spring, and can’t wait to bring you all types of urban farming products – from feeds to seeds, we’ll help you make your urban farm as productive and beautiful as possible.  For the aspiring urban farmers, we’ll be offering occasional classes to help get you off to a great start.  In the mean time, check out our website, http://www.thesavvyhen.com to learn more about what we’ll be offering, and like us on Facebook! Check back here often for all kinds of stories, tips and thoughts on our own urban farming adventures.  We can’t wait to meet you all soon!

The Savvy Hen