Managing Our Broody Hen

Broody California White

Sometimes hens go broody at the wrong time of year.

We were surprised when one of our California White hens started acting strangely.  She puffed up her feathers, clucked in an unusual tone, and spent hours patiently sitting in a nest box. But. we know she’s not sick. She’s broody and wants to be a mom.


We are not surprised when one of our large brown egg laying hens gets broody.  Some breeds have a very strong maternal instinct and often show the maternal instinct.   But California Whites are a hybrid of the white egg laying Leghorn breed, which rarely goes broody.   In years of chicken keeping, this is the first time a white egg layer has shown a maternal instinct.

When one of our hens goes broody we do one of two things.

Discourage her:

Sometimes a hen goes broody at the wrong time, like December.  Since the incubation time for a chicken egg is 21 days, 

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Americans Waste Food!

We were astounded to read a news story stating that 20% of Iowa’s trash is food waste. That’s about 556,000 tons of food tossed out by our state’s people, and Iowan’s aren’t unusual.    Americans everywhere discard food into the trash or grind it in the garbage disposal and send it off to the sewer plant. Other solutions exist! 

Winding Pathways isn’t a contributor to this vast waste because we manage our family food carefully. Our main way of reducing waste is buying carefully so we don’t end up with more perishables than we can eat in a reasonable time. It saves money at the market, but still, a lot of scraps result from meal preparation.

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Possum visits

Below is a guest blog by Arianne Waseen about a visit by an opossum.  Thanks, Arianne!


“Possum come aknockin’ at the door.”

“I went out in the afternoon a few weeks ago to look for eggs.  I opened up the large door on the front of our coop, and in the nest box was something grey and furry and curled up in a little ball.  My first thought was that it was a cat, but looking more closely it was definitely possum fur.  I yelled and jumped a bit, and ran in to tell my husband and mother-in-law to come take a look.  By the time we got back the possum had woken up.  We opened up a little door we have at the back of the nest box and my mother in law encouraged the possum to jump down by prodding it with a broom from the front of the nest box.  It jumped down and ran off.  The opossum has come back a few times, and while it has not harmed our chickens, we are getting fewer eggs than we should be, and the possum has suspiciously glossy fur.”

Enjoying Rhubarb

Rhubarb Leaves

Rhubarb thrives in almost any soil.

About seven years ago we moved from a small house near downtown to Winding Pathways. We looked forward to our new home but didn’t want to leave some plants we’d cared for in the former yard. One was rhubarb. Fortunately, our move happened in early spring, so we were able to dig up dormant roots and plant them in our new yard.  Now, they are thriving.

Rhubarb grows wild in parts of China but was domesticated centuries ago. It has been a valued garden and yard plant in temperate climates ever since. It is vigorous, attractive, and makes delicious food. Because it’s a perennial, it never needs replanting and pops out of the ground like magic each spring.

The plant thrives in rich soil and full sun but isn’t fussy. As long as it gets some daily sunshine and moisture, rhubarb grows well nearly everywhere. Few pests bother it, although deer eat the leaves in late summer or fall.  Deer somehow resist toxins in rhubarb leaves that can sicken people. Fortunately, the stalks are delicious and nonpoisonous to humans.

Rhubarb is useful in landscaping and delicious in recipes.

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Wapsi-Ana Gardeners Visit

What fun Winding Pathways and the Wapsi-Ana Garden Club had on July 26th! Charlene George gathered fifteen avid gardeners and close friends who followed “rooster” Rich around like chicks. They chatted about gardens and childhood experiences, explored the yard with a “Treasure Hunt”, learned about solar and rain barrels and took in the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth. The members used their senses as they listened to various natural and human sounds.  They judiciously tasted plants on their “Treasure Hunt”. Many verified that healthy lawns have diverse plants.  Great descriptions of the phallic looking “Stinkhorn” fungus. Cicadas and Rattlesnake Master fascinated members. These amateur sleuths would have impressed Sherlock Holmes himself with their collective knowledge and hilarious manners.

Enjoy the photo gallery below of our morning with the Wapsi-Ana Garden Club. Come again!

High Summer Labyrinth Walks

What fun hosting  Bankers Trust staff and clients and welcoming an out of town visitor to the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.  Tuesday, July 11 was steamy and threatening storms.  But, the hardy crew engaged in lively discussions and asked probing questions about the more simple lifestyle we embrace at Winding Pathways.  Now, simple does not mean easy.  Tending a large yard and five circuit labyrinth are work.  Rewarding work. And, people are curious about chickens, managing small gardens, maximizing space, retaining water on our property, heating with wood, and creating diversity that welcomes wildlife. Topics like ways to save energy which saves money to be invested or used caught their attention. And questions on managing pests like ground hogs and deer. We touched on a lot and had a great time.

Go to 1080 Labyrinth for a photo album of the afternoon and evening.

Then, with storms obviously to the south showing off cumulus and anvil clouds but no threat, all walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.  Mike T’s comment summed it all up.  As he and Terri entered the center a cool breeze touched their faces.  Mike paused and said, “I never want to leave.”

Thanks Terri Doyle for organizing and promoting!