Monday, July 19, 2010

Take one down, pass it around, 41 chicks in the coop on my farm...

There is a certain feeling of failure when one loses a critter. I just lost #3 (one of the white meat birds), which isn't a terrible record, but I still am not terribly happy about it. This one was fluffed up and limping last night, and after a thunderstorm blew through, I went to visit the chickens and found him gone. Ah, shoot.

Well, 41 still with me. I wish it would cool down a bit so they wouldn't be so stressed. Weeks of 90+ temps is hard on anything.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My latest sewing project

No, really. I sewed that together with fishing wire. There are multiple panels on each part of the run, and I spent about a day and a half in the nice hot, 90+ degree weather, stitching them together. It may not look like much, but I am damn proud of it. I even built the door, which was a first for me.

And now, chickens in their new coop. Starting with Henry and then some of the fluffy chicks who are looking more and more like muppets every day:

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Coop: Or how refurbishing can sometimes be as big of a pain as building from scratch.

Gratuitous shot of Henry sitting in my hands. I can't help myself.

Sources can be misleading. For example, many sources said "your chickens will be fine in their initial container for up to 6 weeks!"

Well. I don't think they were expecting us to have 42 of the little buggers, and apparently I am feeding them something that makes them enormous very quickly (enormous being relative to how tiny they were when they arrived), so after the first week, Daven and I started working on the coop.

Step one: Plot, then purchase some lumber, chicken wire and bird netting. Dig fence post holes. (This was done by Daven, thankfully, since he has described the ground as having the consistency of sun-hardened clay, which, incidentally, it is.) He ended up using a pick axe for some of it. I love my husband so very very much.

Step two: Fall in 18" deep post hole. Acquire bone bruise, but do not manage to break leg. Spend the rest of the day drinking wine, applying RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and napping.

Step three: Have sister and her family come visit for a week. I accomplish almost nothing for the week aside from hang out with sister, nephew and brother-in-law. Daven sets all of the fence posts and puts up top beams.

Gavin learned the word "chicken", and was absolutely infatuated with the little cheepers. He's not quite 2. I'm such a proud aunt, and an excellent bad influence.

Step four: Change plot. Purchase more lumber and other supplies. Realize that what you have purchased Will Not Work. (Wallboard. Great for areas where the residents don't constantly try to eat the walls, but not so good for chickens, who will.) Cuss. Plot to return wallboard, remember that we are going to be finishing another room, and keep it anyway.

Step five: Purchase more lumber. Be amazed at how much money can be spent on refurbishing a crappy chicken coop to make it not suck.

When we started, it was filled with the following:
1 nasty nesting box
1 raised box that kind of looked like a rabbit hutch, if it was really crappy
1 giant pile of old gross wood
1 giant pile of straw/chicken shit/assorted other nasty things
1 dead cat, in the rabbit hutch. My dad found it (it was the source of the Aura of Funky that was emanating from the coop area), Daven buried it, and I never had to see it. Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?

Step six: Struggle with chicken wire. I popped for the expensive kind that should hopefully keep diggers out of the coop. My construction is not perfect. It is not even very good, imo. But hopefully it will be serviceable, and that's all that matters. Spend two days putting up wire. Acquire some interesting scratches on arms and (because chicken wire is tricksy) my left ear. Daven laid the groundwork for the new raised floor in the coop, and has over half of the floor down now. I finished the chicken wire and put up a section of the astonishingly stretchy bird netting. I had these thoughts that the netting was going to be attached at the top of the loafing shed, but, really, all we need is for us to be able to walk under it, and for birds of prey (we have a lot around here) not to eat my damn chickens. So, it will be applied at just over the height of the door into the coop, which will make life much much simpler.

Of course, we are on a bloody time limit, at least in terms of having Mr. Helpfulpants around, as he is heading off on Sunday to DC for a business trip for the next week. I'll be able to do a lot of this stuff, but it really is easier having him here to help. But, chicken's growth waits for no business trips, so they'll go in with just a floor, and no insulated walls yet. Those can come...later. The same can be said for the photos of the coop. I didn't take any before pictures, so you don't get any progress pictures. I'll just spam you with finished shots, whenever that happens.