Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘chicken coop

Bigger Digs

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The chickens are out of the brooder and into the coop! They seemed pretty happy with all the new space, if a little bit confused over the unfamiliar surroundings.

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Our weather has turned the corner finally, and the warmth of April sunshine is making a big difference. Time for me to stop whining about the suffering we’ve endured in the face of the extended winter that has blanketed our region.

Look at that.

I don’t have anything to whine about, and I can’t think of anything else to write.

It’ll probably be too hot outside today.

 

Written by johnwhays

April 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

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Let’s Move

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When they started out in the brooder five weeks ago, our chicks had plenty of room. They are now getting a little testy with each other over their lack of space.

It’s time to move to the coop.

We probably would have already moved them, except it’s been so cold and snowy.

Now we are expecting a run of warmer weather and they are going to be movin’ on up.

You can see in the photo that they are sprouting enough feathers to reveal their eventual colors. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are showing that golden lacing nicely. They all have a long way to go before maturing into their wattles and combs.

By that time, we will need to have decided whether to let them roam free or keep them confined to protect them from predators. For a while there we felt okay with last year’s experiment, but with the rash of springtime attacks polishing off the last of that brood, it doesn’t feel quite right to not try something different.

We’ll move on that decision when they start to out-grow the coop in a month or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Wind Wins

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There is no question about who has the upper hand in our never-ending battle against the wind. I figure we are running about 2-to-1 against, between us and the wind in the years we’ve been here.

One of the more spectacular fails we experienced happened in 2014 when my first version of our wood shed was tossed over by a particularly blustery thunderstorm.

We have lost more trees and limbs to wind than I can count.

The winter wind has created havoc on our driveway numerous times, filling it with drifted snow that piles up multiple times the amount that actually falls out of the sky.

Monday’s blizzard of snow and wind racked up another victory over our feeble attempts to protect ourselves and our animals from the ravages of the gusts.

Cyndie reported that upon opening one of the doors to the barn yesterday morning, she needed to shovel a drift… on the inside.

The chicken coop suffered a more evenly distributed coating of snow on the inside. My ingenious design of the mesh ceiling beneath the roof panels was no match for blowing snow at the angle and rate mother nature dished out for hours on end.

I asked Cyndie what the chickens thought about the situation.

She reported a cacophony of upset hens.

I guess I understand their angst, after our forcibly removing them from the expansive barn (despite the one drift) to the extremely permeable confines of their small coop.

I bow to the prowess of the wind.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

She Survives

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Much to our surprise, our Buff Orpington appears to be functioning normally after enduring a dangerous encounter which drew blood on Saturday in a fracas with our Belgian Tervuren Shepherd, Delilah.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie witnessed the hen drinking water and eating food in the coop, and when I peeked in on the chickens, our hero was in one of the nesting boxes, cooing.

I don’t know how she does it.

Looking back over the whole experience of deciding to make the blind leap into having chickens, despite knowing we had a dog who would do everything in her power to foil our plan, I am in awe of these three survivors who have endured every calamity of our inaugural year.

We thought it would be good to have chickens to help control flies, but we didn’t have a coop. So, I built a chicken coop. Then we just needed to get chickens. Cyndie ordered three each of three breeds from an online site.

Therein started our crash course in caring for chickens. Absolutely every challenge that arose was a first for us. Cyndie learned how to clean baby chicken butts when several of them developed problems.

We gambled on moving them to the coop before the weather had really warmed up consistently. We basically guessed our way through training them to free range, yet return to the coop. Finally, we left them completely on their own to avoid any number of potential passing predators.

Unfortunately, the losses started with Delilah, who ended up producing our first fatality when she broke free and grabbed a Rhode Island Red by the neck. Then in June, we lost six birds all in one horrible evening to an unseen attacker.

Somehow, the three that have survived all the challenges are closing in on their first birthday next month. I feel like they are doing it almost in spite of us.

After what the Buff has just been through, she has earned the bragging rights as toughest of them all.

Here’s hoping they all channel the survival skills gained in their first year into long and prosperous lives, and more importantly, that they might teach any new chicks that happen to show up, how to do the same.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Not Chickens

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It appears our great survivors, the three chickens, are not interested in what winter has to offer. Since Monday night when the weather made that snap decision to swing from balmy to frigid, covering the land with an ice-crust topped with a layer of wind-whipped snow, our chickens have not left the confines of their coop.

Cyndie opens the small door for them, but they don’t venture out.

These little footsteps Cyndie photographed in a framing that looks very “John-like,” are not from our once-brave venturers.

These cute prints are those of a turkey. The wild turkeys haven’t let a little snow and frozen ground stop them from strolling around the property.

Have you ever wondered where wild turkeys are laying their eggs? Maybe we should invite the wild birds to stop by our coop to convince the chickens that winter isn’t so bad, and while they are there, they can lay an egg for us.

Cyndie also captured the shot below of a loner on its way off our property, into the underbrush of the neighbor’s woods.

They certainly don’t have that same friendly demeanor as our domesticated chickens. The excited wobbling sprint toward us that our chickens do when they find us outside is really something to behold.

I’m hoping we don’t have to wait for spring before they come out of the coop and run around again.

The weekend forecast is hinting of a possible above-freezing high temperature on Sunday, so maybe that will inspire a chicken outing.

I’m home today and on my own for the weekend, because Cyndie is traveling out-of-town for a conference. The chickens won’t have momma home to look after them. I expect it will be no shock to them that I do things differently than Cyndie.

I’ve witnessed the horses adjusting their behavior to our different styles of processing the steps to feed and clean up after them. I think the chickens probably respond similarly.

I suppose the same thing is happening with Delilah, but my perception of the change in her is a little different. It seems less like she is reacting differently to me and more like she is moping at the door for hours on end in desperate anticipation that momma might be returning soon.

Hopefully, I won’t be bothering the dog with all my ‘bachelor-weekend’ wild behavior. I’m gonna drink milk out of the bottle and leave my stuff on whichever surface it lands. I may walk in the house with my boots on and leave drawers open in the bathroom.

By Sunday night, it’ll be back to the disciplined life of being a well-fed married man and the chickens can get back to their pleasure of in-coop full-service hospitality.

Huzzah!

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Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2017 at 7:00 am

Low View

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If you are thinking about visiting Wintervale this weekend to get a taste of forest management and tree removal, don’t for a minute wonder whether you will get to spend some time with our horses or chickens. They are essential ambassadors of the healthy loving energy available here every day.

When I was sitting with the horses in the paddock last weekend, eye-level with the chickens, I captured some images from the atypical vantage point.

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If the horses decide not to wander across the hay-field to see what we are up to by the road, I’ll make sure breaks from the lumberjack work will include a stop at the barn.

The chickens won’t wait. I’ll be surprised if they haven’t offered a greeting before visitors have time to walk away from their vehicles upon arrival. Our three survivors have mastered the ability to show up in a blink, or silently disappear like ghosts when our heads are turned.

I expect that has contributed to their free-ranging longevity.

On Tuesday, as I made the final turn onto our road coming home from work, I spotted a stray dog that looked very guilty and appeared to be chewing on something at the edge of a recently harvested corn field. I was very glad to hear from Cyndie that our three were home, and safe.

Speaking of potential threats to chickens, Cyndie says she and Delilah came upon a bobcat recently while on their morning walk. It gave them a moment of a stare, and then bounded off into the woods. This was before Cyndie had opened the coop for the day, so the chickens weren’t immediately at risk.

Honestly, I don’t know how they’ve lasted as long as they have since that fateful evening of June 16th when something took six hens before they had settled into the coop for the night.

These three really are survivors.

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Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2017 at 7:00 am

Finishing Something

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Far be it for me to stay on one project all the way to fruition. Instead of finishing the fence we started on Friday, I let the weather move my focus to something else. Luckily, the change of direction let me toward the completion of wiring AC power to the chicken coop.

Like so many other occasions, after accomplishing the hardest part of the job – like getting the wire buried between the coop and barn– I have a tendency to lose momentum. That initial dose of job-satisfaction can be enough that my sense of urgency to complete tasks dissipates.

Just when the end of a tunnel is in sight, I discover a side route that hijacks my attention.

This day, I headed back down the primary path in the tunnel of electrifying the coop.

First, I removed the panel of the circuit breaker box and made connections to a GFI breaker.

Next, I set about getting the electrical box mounted in the coop. This only required two extra trips back to the shop for tools, hardware, and a modification to the box.

Things were progressing slower than I wanted, but without any insurmountable problems. The one big interruption I needed to work around was the unplanned arrival of a chicken.

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It was late enough in the day that I assumed I wouldn’t be a bother to the chickens while I worked, but our Buff Orpington proved me wrong. She puttered around in the nest box right beneath where I was working, so I just kept at it, hoping she wouldn’t be bothered by me.

After she started to stress out a bit, I took the hint and agreed to take a break, closing things up enough to give her all the privacy I thought she might need.

For whatever unknown reason, that wasn’t enough. After watching the last quarter of the Vikings game, I came back to take my project across the finish line, only to find the hen still in the nest box. Really.

Not to be deterred, I assembled a few objects into a barrier for her so I could forge ahead with my work. It is the first time I ever listened to a chicken lay an egg.

Before the day was over, the coop outlet was live, everything was buttoned up, and all tools were put away.

Yes, finished. That’s a special level of satisfaction.

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Written by johnwhays

October 16, 2017 at 6:00 am