Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chicken coop

Damage Found

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We were pretty surprised that the dramatic hail storm we experienced last week didn’t result in any obvious damage. It took a few days, but Cyndie finally did notice some wounds to the chicken coop.

On Tuesday, as we sat down to dinner during the early stages of that night’s flooding rain storm, Cyndie remembered to tell me about her find. She showed me a picture on her phone that was taken so close I couldn’t completely discern the angle of what I was seeing.

She said there were holes in the plastic on the coop and my mind jumped immediately to the roof panels. I freaked. How could she be so calm when there were holes in the roof and it was raining like crazy?

She said she didn’t think it would be a problem. I couldn’t understand her reasoning and hopped up from dinner to run out in the rain and see for myself. I was thinking we had to, at the very least, try putting a tarp over the roof.

It wasn’t the roof.

It was the window cover.

They are much thinner plastic than the roof panels. Actually, I’m impressed that the roof panels withstood the beating by such large hail stones.

Since only that one window cover was damaged, we now have a pretty good idea of the angle from which the hail fell.

Cyndie was right. Those holes weren’t a problem during the overnight deluge.

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Written by johnwhays

September 7, 2018 at 6:00 am

Aw Heck

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Two chickens missing at bed check last night. No evidence visible in the low light of evening to account for their absence.

We knew this was likely to occur eventually, but, of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Cyndie’s audit identified the missing birds as a buff orpington and a golden laced wyandotte.

A survey for any sign of feathers dropped will commence after daylight this morning.

It’s enough to make you shake your head, going bonkers…

Hunter knows how to do it. That’s his cow face.

I think he was shaking off flies when I happened to snap that photo.

Those pesky flies love the eyes.

I bet the horses know what happened to the two missing chickens. I haven’t mastered the level of communication with them that would enable me to hear their version of the story.

Well after dark last night, I thought I might have heard coyotes in the distance. Maybe it was just my mind’s effort to provide an explanation for the unknown. Coyotes would seem a logical possibility, although, a certain fox would be an even more plausible alternative.

There was no memory card in the trail cam at the time, so the culprit(s) will probably remain unidentified.

For the immediate future, the plan for the 10 chickens still with us is to confine them to their coop. There’s no reason to believe this will solve anything, but it just feels better to take some kind of action against an unknown foe.

Maybe this will spur the hens on to make full use of those fabulous nest boxes in there. We’ve still only found 4 of the small eggs associated with the start of their laying career. That leaves six who have yet to reach this milestone of maturity.

We are even more vested now in hoping the rest will live long enough to get there.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Quickly Fixed

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The chickens finally did in the ramp of woven sticks leading up to their door into the coop. In trying to mend it, the outer braces let loose and I pretty much ended up rebuilding the whole thing.

Unfortunately, many of the old twigs had lost the necessary flexibility. They snapped before I could bend them into position. Cyndie showed up and helped scout some greener specimens among the random growth nearby.

Then she grabbed my camera and documented the process.

Luckily, there is no sound with the images, so my verbal frustration over the breaking sticks was not captured.

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Just like that, it is complete again. I asked the chickens to leave it alone this time.

I’ll let you know how well that works out.

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Written by johnwhays

July 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

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Eggs Soon?

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Lately, we’ve been wondering how close our chickens are getting to their egg laying stage. One of the signs is when the wattle and comb develop and reach full color. Ours are growing at various rates.

Even among the single Buff Orpington breed, there is a range of maturity.

I checked my blog posts from last year to see when the first egg showed up. It was August 8. This year’s batch were all born a week earlier, so if their growth is similar, the beginning of next month could be the start of the daily egg gathering adventures.

I sure hope the predators around here stay focused on wild game for a good long time.

The other day I noticed these twelve have taken an interest in dismantling my woven stick ramp into the coop.

I’ve patched it up a few times, but they always go back to pulling out sticks. If they keep it up, it’s going to be a BIG step to get in to roost at night.

Maybe they know something I don’t. How big a gap would it take to discourage snakes from wandering up to get inside?

Just because they are chickens doesn’t mean they aren’t able to make an occasional intelligent decision, don’t you know!

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Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

Night Visitors

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I finally relocated the trail camera. It’s still viewing the same general area, but it now sees from the other direction. Instead of facing the coop, I attached it to one of the legs so it is facing out from the coop.

If there was any question about whether the fox was still hanging around, or not, we got our definitive answer Monday night.

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I think it’s cute to see how the fox tips its nose up in the direction of the coop window. Might be picking up a familiar aroma there…

There are still plenty of rabbit sightings, and last night there were a couple of dark figures in the distance that defy positive identification. I get the impression that one of them was a local barn cat. Cyndie didn’t seem convinced, although neighbor cats are frequent visible visitors around our place.

There was no question about one other regular attendee to the coop area, although there are likely many more than just one trekking past throughout the night. Exhibit A:

I found some online advice yesterday about ways to keep foxes away. One farmer swears 100% success with his method. It’s urine. But, there’s a trick to it. The instructions insist you have to actually pee on the fox’s den. Oh, I suppose you could just collect specimens and dump them on there, but where’s the fun in that?

My problem with that solution is that I have no idea where the fox’s den is located. I should have followed tracks when there was still snow on the ground.

Putting out a live trap would catch more barn cats and raccoons than fox. The common opinion is that a fox is too smart to fall for that trick.

Last evening, after Cyndie brushed Delilah, she took all the dog hair down and distributed it around the coop. Delilah can’t stand guard there, but her scent can hang around all it wants, for whatever good that might do.

Frankly, we are growing more wary every day that a daylight attack on the chickens, similar to what occurred about this time last year, is not only possible, but likely.

In last night’s fading sunlight, I was hanging out with the flock as they lolled about between the coop and the paddock. Many of them showed a fondness for perching on the bottom board of the paddock fence, which reminded me of the behavior of last year’s flock, right before the June 16th massacre that dwindled their number.

For the time being, we’ve still got twelve chickens, and we are enjoying each of them to the fullest. And they seem to be enjoying us, as measured by their cute little hustle of approach when we are in their vicinity.

I wonder if they know how many visitors show up to their coop every night while they are sleeping.

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Written by johnwhays

June 6, 2018 at 6:00 am

Aim High

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She who rules the roost achieves the highest perch. It appears the Golden Laced Wyandottes are vying for the title. Well, three of them last night, anyway.

When I headed down to button up the coop for the night, all twelve birds were already on the roosts or squeezed onto the window ledge above.

That is such a nice moment of the day, having them all safely secured in the coop for the night. When that little door slides shut, we can release the small tension that builds up during their day-long free-range at-risk time.

This morning, the pheasant that has been a frequent roadside sight around here lately was being very vocal in the field just south of us. I’m hoping that bodes well for our birds, implying a temporary serenity and safety from threats for a while.

That thought is supported by the sighting of the two spotted fawns hopping around the Labyrinth on Friday.

Just as we suffer and struggle with loss during tough times, we can and should embrace and revel the periods like now when our animals are healthy and the energy of spring is bursting forth with an inspiring zest.

Maybe it’s a manifestation of aiming high!

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2018 at 10:03 am

Uninvited Visitor

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We like to be very open and welcoming around here, but some guests from the animal kingdom are a little less welcome than others. I am not much of a fan of snakes, despite all the wonderful things about them.

Something deep in my brain holds an aversion and I’ve never found an urge to get over it.

For the most part, I try to ignore them and leave them be, hoping they are busy helping keep our other crawling critter populations in balance.

Lucky for me, I wasn’t the one who opened the big door to the chicken coop yesterday morning to be greeted by a healthy looking garter snake. That treat was reserved for Jackie, who happens to share my disdain for the creatures.

Cyndie reported using some sticks to evict the unwelcome intruder.

Our guess is the snake slithered up the ramp to the chicken door. Maybe, in its defense, it was after a mouse that had invaded. I hope it wasn’t thinking it could find an egg to eat. Too early for that. Our birds haven’t reached that level of maturity yet.

Since it was discovered first thing in the morning while they were opening the door, we suspect it had been in there all night. I’m told the chickens didn’t show any signs of distress over the intruder.

Although, maybe that explains why more of the birds are seeking high perches finally. Cyndie said she found two had made their way to the narrow ledge above the window, which makes them top chicks over the rest who settled for the two roost branches.

We saw this same behavior from last year’s flock when they were young. I’m guessing small space becomes a less appealing spot when they get to be full-sized.

So far, the twelve new birds have avoided calamity and are now beginning to show signs of social interest in our presence. I think it is related to their growing confidence in the territory they have mastered around the coop. As a group, they are starting to expand the distance of their excursions, and show a willingness to follow us more and more.

That’s one of the behaviors we particularly enjoyed with last year’s batch. It is nice to have the return of that added pleasure in our activities around this paradise.

Stumbling unexpectedly upon the presence of a snake… not so much.

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Written by johnwhays

June 2, 2018 at 9:09 am