Thanks to a fox taking off two of our hens and then the would-be-butcher never getting back to us, we ended up keeping the six last chickens from what was to be a broiler flock. We now have eight hens and a very loving rooster. Needless to say, that left us needing to either add on to the old coop or gain a new one. We decided to go with a “new” one, or more specifically, to revamp the old wooden shed and build a new metal shed. We were able to scrounge a lot of the wood needed to alter the old shed. Only four 2X4s were purchased, and technically only two full ones were used.
Front of the shed showing the new chicken door.
The girls don’t seem to mind their new home. The surprising thing: NO fights!
Interior of the shed/mini-barn. The bottom half of the wall is a pallet that we had lying around, the chip board was extra from building the floor to the new shed, and the screen door was the old one from off the back of the house. The only “new” pieces here are the 2×4 bracing for the door and some of the hardware.
Inside shot of the nesting area. There are eight small nesting boxes made of four larger ones. The dividers are removable for easier cleaning. The roosting bar is from the chicken tractor and the plant hangers are extras we had from another project.
Water and feed area. I’ll have to do something different with this as they keep using the bar as a roost. For now I’ve been moving the containers at night.
We ended up having to close everyone in the new coop for a full day before they would go in on their own at night. (They had been circling the old coop and tractor like vultures. It made for a hassle carrying them to the new coop every night.) We haven’t lost any egg production with the change and, even better, we haven’t had to deal with frozen water at all as their new set up stays warmer at night.
We’ve officially had our first harvest here at the Raymond Homestead. I was able to pull out about 80% of my radish patch two days ago. The haul was great and tasty! The down side? I’m the only one that likes radishes. Oh, well. More for me!
In other gardening news, all the beds are doing well. We’re having a bit of an issues with the cucumbers this year as we tried a new location for them. Given that they’re not taking too well to it, I think we’ll be adding yet another garden on the south side of the house. The lettuce seed and beets seem to have all washed out early on, so I’ll be replanting those soon as well. (Most likely tonight or tomorrow.)
The most ironic part: the second bean and potato bed that we planted is doing well. When we moved our shed to a more stable and less floodable location we decided to throw in left over seed potatoes from this season and bush been seeds from two years ago into the dead area from the previous shed location. The only prepping we did was to till up enough of a workable hill to get the potatoes into the soil. The soil, by the way, is about 90% clay. It’s the type of Maine clay that you could sculpt out of, leave it in the sun, and then never break it. It will be really interesting to see what we get for a yield from it.
We’ve also come to the point where the chicks needed more room and have been separated into the two tractors. Five of them were a bit beaten up from the three bullies, so we put the bullies by themselves. Before long we’ll need to have a run between the two tractors…or figure something else out for space.
On an interesting note, the past two days we’ve been awoken to crowing by one of them. We think we have it narrowed down the most beaten of the five in the larger tractor. The comb on that one is much larger and redder than the others, not to mention the feathers have a bit of a luminosity to them that the other birds lack.
Posted in Animals, Frugal Living, Garden
Tagged animals, chicken, chickens, food, frugal, Garden, gardening, homestead, homesteading
We hit a bit of a snapfoo with the chicks. To start from the beginning, we decided to order through a local hardware store in hopes to avoid some of the issues that came with day old chicks – mostly dead arrivals and the nail biting of setting up day olds – in order to save me some sanity as Vaughn dictates my schedule right now.
When we called to place an order for our speckled sussexes, in mid March, we were told two weeks. Nothing was said about the store having to sell out of what they had first.
I called at the end of March. The order hadn’t been placed, but they were looking to place the order in the next few days and the chicks would be in around mid April.
Mid April comes, and we have no word from the hardware store. I call them and am told that they won’t be placing the order until the 28th. They will be in on the 29th. We call on the 29th and are told the chicks will be a day late. Nothing is mentioned about a hatching calendar and how speckled sussexes are a “speciality” under the hatchery that they order from.
Car troubles arise and we’re stuck with Joe having to jet out directly from work, drive close to 45 minutes to the hardware store while eating dinner in the car, only to find out the the 8 speckled sussexes that we had specifically ordered back in mid March are not there. There are no speckled sussexes are all. Nada. He’s given some run around by the assistant manager and comes home ripped. I don’t blame him. I was pretty peeved off myself.
Come to find out, apparently there’s a calendar that they have in the store of when speckled sussexes are available. Oh, and they also don’t place specialty orders unless they’re out of chicks at the store.
We ended up getting 8 Araucunas. This is the first and last time we try to work with this specific hardware store for chicks.
That’s right. Tonight we’ll be bringing home octoplets, if all goes smoothly. We decided that a good starter meat/layer combo for us would be speckled sussexes. They’re known to be very docile, which is great since this will be our first time raising them from chickhood. The game plan is to keep one, possibly two, for layers and have the rest butchered this fall. Here’s hoping my emotions don’t get too tangled up in these birds. It’s easy for others to say “don’t get attached” where they’re not the ones raising them.
Posted in Animals, DIY, Frugal Living
Tagged animals, chicken, chickens, eggs, food, frugal, homestead, homesteading, meat
Last fall we didn’t do such a good job winterizing the chicken tractors that the girls had spent the summer in before becoming free rangers. (Since we were both working days at the time, we wanted to girls to not be locked in the coop all day, thus the chicken tractors.) With spring around the corner and broiler birds on the horizon, I decided I would start checking out the tractors and working on them little by little to prep them.
One of them is still frozen in the ground. I cleaned what shavings were left from last year, gave it a quick once over, and called it good. The larger of the two will need a bit of love. The door’s falling off and one of the boards is popping off the back, but it’s definitely fixable. I was able to prop it up on bricks to get it up off the ground as it wasn’t frozen in. Where things were wrong came next…
Apparently we left a feeder with a cup or two of food in it. As the tractor was closed up, squirrels weren’t able to take the food and empty the feeder for us. The food in the feeder had been there since about August of last year…
It was disgusting and rancid. I dunked the feeder in the stream to wash out as much as I could. Then I had what I thought would be a bright idea.
Finishing washing the rotting chicken feed out in the bathtub. Which is in our bathroom. Which is in our house. Which we still can’t open all the windows in yet because it’s not warm enough out.
Needless to say, but bathroom reeked afterwards. It smelled as though someone had decided to dump an entire pile of rotting chicken manure in the room. (By the way, I now understand why non-free-ranging chicken poo reeks.)
Thanks to the all natural shower cleaner we use, out home now smells like a giant thyme bush is growing in the bathroom.
It’s a much better smell.