Thursday, September 21
The days are growing shorter and I'm finding it difficult to find enough time (and light) to use the camera. I felt I owed my (loyal) readership an update on the poultry housing I talked about building of so long ago.
Back in mid-July, with the help of my Dad and one of my Uncles, we completed the hen house. It was supposed to only house the guineas we had purchased. The plan was to let the guineas free range and close them up in the house at night. Of course the plan of action changed when Jennifer purchased and brought home a whole flock of chickens. Now I needed a fence for the chickens. We did decide to let a few of the bigger chickens free range. the Old English Game birds seem to be able to fend for themselves. But the rest of the younger chickens were to remain in the coop.
That was then, and I've since completed the fence. I used 2x8's for the top and bottom rails and mounted them to wooden posts I cemented in the ground. That was the easy part. Unrolling and dealing with the chicken wire proved to be a time consuming task. But with my wife's help we got it all stretched up and mounted. In the picture you can see multiple feeders and waterers (inside the coop and out). The spans between the posts are a bit long (15' for one section) and I need to reinforce the top rail. I'll do that before too long.
After taking this picture I was embarrassed by the unkept appearance of area, I'll have to work on that this weekend if it's not storming. I didn't want to wait to clean up the area before making this post, however.
The two trash cans contain chicken feed and scratch. We also store the vitamins and medication in trash cans as well. The water hose is lazily draped over the fence in order to make filling the multiple waters easier.
On a farm there never seems to be enough buckets, and at our farm it's apparently because they're all at the chicken coop. I see one in this image and I cropped out another one slight off to the left. We end up using the buckets to carry vegetable garden scraps or left over watermelon rinds to the chickens, which they happily eat up.
Each morning I wake up to let the chickens out of the house. I swing the screen door open and fasten it to the fence so it stays open then it's a mad dash to the gate on the fence with "the girls" in fast pursuit. They've become accustomed to us bringing them something good to eat and are generally very friendly. Jennifer has decided to let them all free range on occasion so I think they associate me opening the fence gate as a time to leave the pen.
The chickens faithfully return to the house to roost every night. Occasionally the guineas will decide to rest in the house for the night, but usually they're high up in the Oak and Walnut trees. Just after dark each night one of us will go close the door to the house, keeping them safe from the night-time predators. We added a screen door to help with the ventilation during the day time (when they were confined to the house awaiting the completion of the fencing). I've got a solid wood core door attached as the primary protection for that opening. The door already has a pet-door attached, so it'll be convenient in the winter for them to go in and out of.
Speaking of winter, it's already started cooling down to the 40's at night in our part of the Ozarks. We recently purchased a heat lamp and thermostat that I'll be placing in the bird house to keep them warm during the winter. Extension cords will have to suffice until I get ambitious enough to wire up the out-buildings properly. In the meantime I've closed the openings on each end to keep the draft down.
I think you can see the chickens cracking a little smile of content in the picture below, they're pretty well treated birds! We've gotten quite a bit of entertainment out of having them, but we've experienced some tragedies as well. We've lost a few to mysterious natural deaths as well as some not so mysterious predators. One confirmed kill was by Gelleon of all dogs. That chicken didn't die in vain, as all the dogs were taught a lesson. "NO CHICKEN" is the command to halt the dogs in their tracks. I've run off another neighbor's dog one morning when we heard some cacklin' so I think that dog might be the cause for the rest of the flock depletion.
Sometimes I think some of the remaining chickens are taunting our dogs. During one free-range excursion chickens were passing between Haley's legs and one jumped on Suey's back! We could see the look of extreme restraint in the dogs when something like this happens; they don't even want to make eye contact with the birds!
Technorati tags: Geek Acres, farm, chickens, hen house, guineas
at 9:22 PM