Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

The Not-So-Glamorous Side of Farming

The Not-So-Glamorous Side of Farming

The peeps are getting their big chicken feathers and have just about doubled in size. I can tell the difference between the Barred Rocks and the Light Brahmas. The brooder box is too small for all of them, so when they reach this stage, we move them to a closed-off section of the coop. It’s big enough for them to run around in but keeps them safe from the big chickens. They will stay in there for another month or two until they are big enough to go outside. At that point, they will still be separated from the big chickens in a closed-off area of the chicken yard. It’s a fairly elegant system.

We follow the Polyface Farm system of manure management. The coop has a concrete floor that gets covered with straw and/or wood shavings. That soaks up all the liquids (chicken poop is pretty loose) and every so often, the husband adds another layer of organic matter. When it gets to be a couple of inches deep, he shovels it out and puts it in a pile behind the coop. The aged manure gets spread on all the gardens in the neighborhood.

The section of the coop where the chicks go needed to be mucked out. It was pretty deep in there. This is not generally one of my jobs; the husband often does it on Sundays when I am at church. He’s been slammed, though, with trying to get some concrete jobs underway and having to do it with one employee on vacation. I offered to go in and muck out that section so we could move the chicks. (It’s my farm, too.) This morning after breakfast, I put on my old clothes and my barn jacket and grabbed the shovel and small pitchfork and got to work. I also put on a mask.

I forgot. I forgot that I have a hard time with anything over my face ever since having to wear that BiPAP mask in the ICU last year. This job needed to be done, though, and I decided I would just have to power through the discomfort. As it turns out, the big barrel into which we dump the manure in order to haul it to the manure pile was so heavy that I could only fill it halfway. The amount of time it took to fill it halfway corresponded precisely with the point at which I had to get outside and take off the mask and breathe deeply.

I got it done. And when the husband came home after lunch, we moved the chicks into their new home:


They were a bit freaked out and all went and stood in the corner. One or two intrepid ones will start to explore, though, and the rest will follow. I won’t have to check on them as often now.

We were ably supervised the entire time by the big rooster:


He needs to know exactly what is happening in the coop at all times.


It’s still cold and rainy. The greenhouse is nice and toasty, though, and the seedlings are all doing really well. I am anticipating a bumper crop of tomatoes (this is one of three trays):


Such a difference from last year! Ali and Elysian have their seeds started in the greenhouse, too, and every so often the kids come over to check on them. Our renter brought his little girl over this afternoon to see the chickens. I think she would have picked them up and hugged them if he had let her. I love our little village.

Mastering the Meander with Angela Walters

Mastering the Meander with Angela Walters

Efficiency Expert

Efficiency Expert