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Hen House #2 – Mine

Our henhouse 12-2

When we moved into our house I was thrilled that there was also a hen house in the back yard.  The building is about 30 feet long, divided into three sections. We store the feed, kept in metal garbage cans, as well as bales of shavings, in the first section. We also brood our chicks in that section when they arrive around the first of June. There is a chicken door that allows the chicks to go outdoors into a separate fenced yard when they get old enough.

Our henhouse, second section

The second section has egg boxes, waterers and feeders for the chickens. During the winter when the waterers freeze I rotate them through our house where they can thaw.

You can see that neither the exterior, nor the interior are objects of beauty.  However, the building is functional. We have used it ever since our first spring here in 1980.  You cannot really tell, but I do use the ‘deep litter’ technique.  I only clean the henhouse out once a year, in the spring. Over the summer and fall the bedding and the chicken manure build up and begin to compost. The manure and the composting  create some heat which helps keep the chickens warm in the winter. The manue and bedding also encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that helps keep the chickens healthy, although their access to fresh air and sun are also important to their health. Everyone always comments on the rich yellow color of our eggs.

Our chickens in their yard

I throw cracked corn to the chickens outdoors every day. You can see we have a mixed flock. I have several Araucanas; they are not especially pretty, but they are great egg layers. Blue eggs!  They lay longer for us, into their second and third year.  I also have barred rocks, and New Hampshire Reds. I love having chickens because of the eggs, and because of knowing that our eggs come from happy and healthy chickens.

In case you were wondering about the third and longest section – that is not used. It is missing the end wall which was OK when we had pigs out there. Pigs only need housing for four or five months, but the space is not suitable for our hens.

I’ll be showing more hen houses built by some thoughtful people.  Don’t forget to leave comments on yesterday’s post to have a  chance at winning a copy of Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. today is my exact third blogoversary and I am celebrating the commenters who visit, and the other bloggers I have met over these past years. Please celebrate with me. This Giveaway ends Saturday at midnight, but two more books are coming through the generosity of Storey Publishing.

We Have a Winner!

Layanee of Ledge and Gardens is the winner, chosen at random by a disinterested party, of the Fiskars tool organizer. Congratulations Layanee!

On the next three Mondays, December 6 (which is the actual anniversary of my first post, the 13th and 20th, I’ll have a new Giveaway.  Plenty of time to win a present for yourself, or for a gardening friend.

Celebratory Fiskars Giveaway

In December of 2007 (!) I began my career as a garden blogger.  I hardly knew what a blog was in those days. I had just discovered Garden Rant, and my friend BJ Roche at Fiftyshift said that as a writer I had to have  a blog. And so commonweeder was born.

What I knew about garden blogs – a blog was a place to share information and experiences and opinions through the Internet.

I did not imagine that a blog would make me think more about my garden, and the place of gardens in the world. I did not think it would bring me to a different understanding about food production, environmental dangers, or the rewards of travel. I did not think a blog would bring me wise and funny friends who loved being in the garden as much as I did. I leapt into the blogosphere and all this was unexpectedly mine.

With the help of Fiskars and Storey Publishing I am celebrating my Third Blogoversary with four Giveaways! If you leave a comment on this posting, possibly telling me about a favorite tool that you might put in this wonderful Fiskars tool tote that fits in a bucket you will have a chance to win this sturdy tool organizer.  Fiskars was founded in 1649 in Finland so they have had a lot of practice at making sturdy and efficient tools that will meet every need of the gardener. Including the need to give a useful gift at this season. If you already have a Fiskars organizer, you might know someone who would appreciate this organizer. It fits a 5 gallon bucket with straps that wrap snugly around the outside of your bucket which can either hold further supplies, or weeds as you work your way through the garden.

Leave a comment on this post, even as the week progresses. The Giveaway ends on Saturday night at midnight. A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday and I’ll ask for the winner’s mailing address. Next week I’ll start Giving Away three books from Storey Publishing.

Last Chance

It’s not yet 9 am and the temperature is slowly climbing. It was 10 degrees when we got up, but now it is almost 15 degrees with still gusting winds. Still it is beautiful outside.

The sun is shining and I love admiring the beauty of the landscape. From inside. Close to the fire.

You don’t need to go outside to take this last chance to enter my drawing for Right Rose Right Place by Peter Schneider and 2 dozen CowPots for spring seed starting.  Leave a comment by midnight tonight and I’ll have my drawing tomorrow morning. I want to thank Storey Publishing and Liquid Fence for making this celebratory Giveaway possible.  Many thanks to both of them.

Snow is Snowing

And the wind is blowing. I barely made it out to the hen house and back.

This is a day for staying home, browsing through Right Rose Right Place by Peter Schneider and considering what roses I want to add to The Rose Walk in the spring.  My daughter Kate in Texas suggested I build a wish list on the Antique Rose Emporium website. So I did. I hope someone looks.

You all have a chance to win that excellent book, Right Rose Right Place if you leave a comment before midnight December 11. On December 12 I’ll have a drawing and the winner will get the book and 2 dozen CowPots for their spring seed starting. Storey Publishing and Liquid Fence have made this celebration of my second blogoversary possible. Thank you both.

Another Celebratory Giveaway

Right Rose Right Place

Right Rose Right Place

Because it is my second Blogoversary, both Storey Publishing and CowPots are making it possible to have two Give Aways.  Right Rose, Right Place: 359 Perfect Choices by rose lover and expert Peter Schneider will be a lovely and useful holiday treat for any rose gardener, or would-be rose gardener. There is advice here for the experienced gardener as well as for the novice.  I have already added a number of roses I never knew about to my must-have list. They are all marked reliable because I still don’t trust my warming climate. Schneider talks about every kind of rose, old roses, modern roses, climbing roses, tree roses, and roses for containers.  Just leave a comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing that will be held in the morning on Saturday, December 12.



But the CowPots people also wanted to help me celebrate twice. I have another two dozen Cowpots to send along with Right Rose Right Place.  Peat pots for seed starting help to deplete peat bogs, but cow manure is definitley a renewable resources.  CowPots are made of composted manure that will add fertilizer to your garden when they are planted, and will get your seeds off to a really good start. They are made by the Liquid Fence people who also make a line of products like Deer and Rabbit Repellent. I’ll be using this as the winter progresses to keep hungry deer away from my rhododendrons.

For those of you who have begun your holiday shopping, I have a local resource – Artspace on Mill Street is holding its annual Holiday Shop with gifts made by local artists and artisans. You will not be surpised to know that I could not resist notecards featuring a porcupine.

I’d rather have porcupines on cardstock rather than in my compost bin and keep them as a lovely country memory.  There are lots of other beautiful cards for sale, as well as art prints, blown glass ornaments, beautiful candles, jewelry, honey, CDs by local musicians and much much more. Gifts are priced under $50 with many under $25.  Shopping at Artspace supports arts education and artists – and the local economy. The Holiday Shop will continue through December 13, every day, 10 am to 6 pm except Sunday 1-6 pm.

And Christmas Begins



When rose the eastern star, the birds came from a-far,
in that full might of glory.
With one melodious voice they sweetly did rejoice
and sang the wonderous story,
sang, praising God on high, enthroned above the sky,
and his fair mother Mary.

The eagle left his lair, came winging through the air,
his message loud arising.
And to his joyous cry the sparrow made reply,
his answer sweetly voicing.
“Overcome are death and strife, this night is born new life”,
the robin sang rejoicing.
When rose the eastern star, the birds came from a-far.
                                      The Carol of the Birds

Yesterday the thermometer made it up to 60 degrees, but I went out to bring in the greens and arrange my annual 12 foot ‘swag’ above the big south windows in our living room.  One year I realized I had a number of Christmas tree bird ornaments – which deserved more attention. Some birds are feathered (and I use the word loosely) bought at Michael’s craft store, some are hand carved and painted by a man in our church and some are sparkly birds with brushy tails. Some are tiny, and some are quite large/life size. I’ve hung a few sparkly pine cones ornaments as well. Aside from our tree this constitutes the major part of our holiday decoration.

And so the Christmas preparations begin. I have an extra celebration on December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, when instead of cookies or a shoe full of coal some lucky gardener will win Nan Ondra’s new book, The Perennial Care Manual, and 2 dozen CowPots.  You still have a chance to leave a comment, and tell me about one of your favorite books, or seed starting tip.  Entries close at midnight tomorrow.

My Blogaversary Giveaway

Now that Thanksgiving has been celebrated in riotous style (23 for dinner!) it is time to move on to the next celebration.

On December 6, 2007 I asked myself the question, as posed by another blog, whether I was too old to blog. The only way to find out was to begin the, and I guess the answer is no, because I am still standing. Or kneeling, bending, stretching, digging, weeding, in the garden and sitting at the computer.

To help me celebrate this blogoversary two companies are giving YOU a present.  My very premiere post, coming during a very wintery season, was about a book, Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi. The particular section was about the approach of two very different gardeners, E.F. Benson and Henry James to the same garden. I have written about many books since then including excellent volumes by Storey Publications who has given me The Perennial Care Manual, the newest book by our sister blogger Nan Ondra to Giveaway. I challenge you to come up with a question that Nan doesn’t answer in this useful and beautiful book with photos by Rob Cardillo.



IN ADDITION! Liquid Fence is giving away two sets of CowPots. There is a box of 3 inch CowPots, and a box of 4 inch Cowpots that will give an extra boost to seed starting in the spring.  You see the number two is key in all these gifts. CowPots are a way to get our plants off to a good start, and avoid transplant shock because the seedling in its CowPot goes right into the garden where it will continue to nourish the seedling with its composted cow manure. Unlike peat pots, CowPots are made from an ever renewable resource!

Just leave a comment here and tell me what garden book you have most enjoyed or found especially useful OR the best seed starting tip you ever got.  On my blogoversary, December 6, I will draw the winning name. Once I have the winner’s home address I will put the book and CowPots in the mail. Then I will also announce a second Giveaway for the following week. A different book, and more CowPots.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

On December 6 last year I launched the Commonweeder blog. I had only discovered garden blogs a short time before and I was fascinated by a subject that was commented on at length (I can’t remember which blog) about whether older experienced gardeners were too old to blog or read blogs – and thus help younger gardeners. Well, of course, I never feel too old to do anything I want to do, so I began a new life as the Commonweeder.

It has been a wonderful year. I can’t say I have been the swiftest student in the flower beds or at the computer desk, but I have learned a lot. My garden does show the benefits of what I have learned about plants and issues in the garden and general environment.

Along the way I have been instructed by the Garden Ranters, and even got to be a virtual colleague of Susan Harris for a while at Organic Gardener, an Australian website. Kathy Purdy at Cold Climate Gardening inspired by her example and with her blogging tips. I’ve participated in Bloom Day and Muse Day, First Snowfall of the Year and Blog Action Day. I’m so grateful to the bloggers who invent these days and provide a super way a making new friends.

I’ve checked out Blotanical and all the Mouse and Trowel winning blogs to see what I can learn about content and design. Of course, I can’t begin to talk about the pleasures I’ve had visiting and being visited by garden bloggers all over the world. It has been amazing and delightful.

By trial and error and conversation with techie people in my neighborhood, most especially my own personal tech support, my husband. I’ve learned how to take, adjust and import pictures, add links, run Google analytics (WOW!)
The photo above is our house seen from The Rose Walk, with the flowery mead I call a lawn, embroidered with dandelions, that most commonweed. It would persist, even if I tried to weed it out which is one of the reasons I like it. Beautiful and persevering. Not a bad model.
Now it is on to my second year of blogging pleasure. Thank you, all you readers.