New Cats

Old Cats

You may have read our two posts on our previous cats, Oscar and Coconut, or about how they ran away in August. They were great cats, and we missed them terribly. But now we knew what to do so that any more cats wouldn’t run away. So, we began our journey to new fluffy friends.

The Long Journey

First, we checked our local feed store’s postboard for free kittens. That was how we had gotten Oscar and Coco, and it was a great way to find cats.  But cats aren’t normally born in September, so there was only one cat available. We were very excited, but then the cat found a home without us.

And anyway, by then the time gap had closed, and our big travel month of October was nearing. (Sorry, that’s why we’ve been inactive for a while! International travel puts a lot on hold!) So, our journey ended…for a while.

But the Redeemed Homestead can’t go long without some cat buddies, so as soon as we arrived home, (actually, on the last days of the trip!) we started asking about new cats.

New Cats

Finally, our trip was over, we were home, and we could focus on new things, cats being one of them. About a week after we arrived home, Dad surprised the kids by teaming up with a cat-loving lady to bring us…Peanut and Jacob!



Jacob or Jake
Jacob (Jake)


But our adventures weren’t over yet! Jake promptly escaped and ran into the forest! It was ten days before we got him back. It was a cold night, and he would go around the house meowing, so we opened the door and mewed while he hesitantly walked inside. We shut the door, picked him up, and he was safely home.

Since then, both of the cats have adjusted to their new home, and love us very much. Since it’s winter, they stay in the garage, but they practice their hunting skills on cat toys. 🙂

Jake has escaped a few more times since then, but he always stays around to be mewed through the front door. He is pure muscle, and will be a great mouser when he grows up.

Peanut is especially endearing, with an occlusion (blockage) that makes him sound snuffly all the time. He is a quick little sidekick to deliberate, strong, Jake.

We will fix them both this time to prevent permanent run-aways, but it seems Jake has already learned to run away well: exploring and worrying us sick, while staying close to home, friend, and food. Peanut seems more inclined to explore and befriend Gopher and his back porch.


Nest Box Management

Okay, so these baby chicks have grown up and you are starting to get eggs, possibly lots of eggs.  You now have to think about the comfort and cleanliness of your nest boxes. How do you manage them and encourage the ladies (hens) to lay in the right spot and in a clean environment?

What Do The Hens Need?

    • Hens like a dark place to lay their eggs: private, dark, preferably quiet. I put a cardboard liner at the bottom of the nesting box, minimum, preferably cardboard sides too. If you are finding eggs random places in the chicken yard or coop, privacy/darkness or access to a nesting box is probably the issue.
    •  I’ve heard ratios like one nest box to 5-10 hens.  Our setup is 1 nest box to 8 chickens. We have four modified milk crate egg boxes in our ChickShaw for our 30-odd chickens
    • I either replace nesting material or add some every 3-4 days.  More often if you see droppings in the nest box. Just pinch some grass to pull out the chicken poo and toss it on the ground. We try to collect the eggs everyday late afternoon between 4-5pm and take a quick look at the nest box material and cleanliness.

Nesting Material

What kind of nesting material should you use?  What do you have on hand?

We have used wood shavings (the kind you buy in a big compression bag), old hay, plain cardboard, and grass clippings.

My favorite of all of these is grass clippings.  The wood shavings were too small and airy and too easy for the chickens to scrape out of the nesting box.  Hay works pretty good, except I don’t have it on hand consistently.  Grass clippings are everywhere in our yard.  I have a yard sweeper, so gathering grass clippings is no problem.  Or I could use a leaf rake to gather enough for the nesting boxes from a recent mowing.

I fill the nest boxes about 2/3 to 3/4 full of nesting material.  The chickens will form it into a nest and push the material out and shape the space to be comfortable for them.

We do not use roll-away egg boxes (even though I have been tempted at times) because of the influence of Joel Salatin and his book The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs.