Chickens, Journal Style Posts

First Eggs

I went out this evening to check water levels in the waterers before putting the flock to bed. I had about 45 minutes of light left before the sun fully set so, I went out to the coop. I opened the coop door and thank goodness I was paying attention because I found an egg on the coop floor. I immediately checked the nesting boxes, which are kitty litter buckets with the lid cut off at the hinged part. The remainder of the lid keeps the nesting material inside of the bucket when it’s laid on its side. Inside one of the nesting boxes was the second egg. I didn’t have my phone with me so, I grabbed both eggs and actually ran inside. (well, sort of ran) I showed hubby the eggs and he was just as shocked as I was to see eggs.

They are apparently large according to the members of the Homesteading groups I am in on Facebook. They weren’t dirty and they were just perfect and smooth with no weird flaws. The brown smears are mud from my hands because I grabbed the waterer before I saw the eggs and the waterer is always muddy because of the spot where I fill them being somewhat muddy.

I had purchased an adorable egg rack for the kitchen counter on Prime Day on Amazon and it arrived today as well. Absolutely perfect timing for it’s arrival.

My first two eggs fit perfectly in the rack. I plan on numbering or dating them with a sharpie as they do not need refrigeration unless I wash them. I want to make sure I know how old they are. The brown paper is unbleached parchment paper and covers the built in grill area of my ancient stove to keep crumbs and dust from gathering in that area, which means I don’t have to clean it daily. The other section is a ventilation fan and hot air from outside blows in through the vent so, I keep it covered to avoid the heat coming inside.

Hubby also brought me home two 55 gallon black plastic barrels today from work. I will have to clean and sanitize them of course, but they will become rain catchment barrels, which will become a gigantic chicken watering station once I get everything set up.

Friday is Hubby’s birthday and Saturday is race day, (he races Racesaver 305 Sprints) so, I will have to work quickly to get the coop cleaned up, new roosts installed as well as additional nesting boxes. I also have a roll of shade cloth that my lovely mother in law randomly brought me so I am going to create some shady spots for them to hang out under because it is just way too hot.

Hubby’s truck measures the heat index and he took this after his truck had been running for a few minutes and the air conditioning had cooled to ice cold. (It was reading much higher before the truck was running) this is just too hot to be out in the sun. The run has the entire top covered, which does create shade, but they hang out in the coop or under the coop door during the hottest part of the day. The coop does have a rather large window, which is covered in EXTREMELY thick fencing with square holes. It’s too big for rabbit fencing so, I think it’s called hog fencing. No clue honestly but it is nice and secure. I will shutter the window when colder temperatures start, but right now it creates a nice airflow and the temperature of the coop isn’t sweltering hot.

This is an old picture. We completely secured this piece of fencing with weird screws that have washers secured to the screw head. I have no idea what they are called, but they work great. We also attached a shutter so the coop doesn’t get soaked when it rains. I can easily run out and shut it within a minute or two and when we get strong winds, I shut it and make sure they are not being battered by the wind.

Originally I repurposed an old wooden ladder as roosts because the flock was still small. Now they are much bigger and they fight a lot over who gets to roost on top or on the paint can shelf of the ladder. Our solution is to take “L” shaped shelf brackets and use planks of wood we already have and have everyone roosting at the same height. No more fights about who is up higher.

These fights resulted in poor Chicken little ending up with a blood caked comb.

It scared me until I took a closer look and realized it was blood and dirt. Much to his dismay, I took him inside and gently cleaned him up with some warm water and a bunch of q-tips. I then applied Vetericyn (no purple dye), which is a first aid spray. (I sprayed it on a cotton round, not directly on him.) He’s all healed up now, but one injury is too many.

I have learned a lot about chicken first aid and like the Vetericyn spray much better because it doesn’t contain dye and it’s safer than Blu-kote from what I understand. I am not an expert by any means, but I do prefer to NOT have purple chickens.

He still crows a lot and still sounds rather ridiculous. I know when the UPS truck pulls in, I know when the garbage men come, I know when FedEx comes, I even know when the neighbor’s dog comes to pee all over our yard. He greets me and hubby every time we are outside. I know if I hear him crowing, something is going on outside and I peek outside to check on them. He is still snuggly and still adorable. I love them all.

Until next time….

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Chickens, Journal Style Posts

Homestead Update

It has been nonstop busyness on the homestead. First a chicken update. The are getting so big and should start laying soon.

It has been extremely hot so, ai try to give the flock lots of fresh fruits and veggies with a high water content after they have had breakfast, which is regular flock grower feed. They love it and I know no one is going to dehydrate because of the high liquid content of watermelon. Now, to be clear, they don’t get a chicken smorgasbord every single day. They do get something to help hydrate and get them plenty of fluids. Some days it will be a block of ice with corn or berries, other days a tray of veggies and fruits. Every single day it’s really hot, I pop a frozen bottle of water into their waterers to try and keep it cool. I also freeze gallons of water and place them inside the coop so they can lean against the frozen gallons if it’s just too hot.

Sometimes, they just get half of a nice cold watermelon. (I slice the bottom so it sits flat and stays a bit cleaner.)When they are finished with their treat, it goes directly into one of the two compost piles that are inside of the run. This is their favorite activity because they can dig through these piles and discover all sorts of tasty little morsels. Everything from scratch grains that I raked up to juicy little insects. Grasshoppers are their favorite crunchy snack.If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know about the two accidental meat chickens. If you haven’t, when I bought my chicks from Tractor Supply, all of the straight run chicks were mixed together, meaning the straight run bin contained layers, bantams, and even meat chickens. I ended up with two accidental meat chickens, which were brutally bullied by the rest of the flock. One died of either heat exhaustion or her heart gave out and the other is living her best life in an extra large metal wire dog crate in my laundry room/mud room.She goes on a daily adventure outdoors for fresh air time and grazing time. This is what happens when I take her outside.

She’s very spoiled and very sweet. She wouldn’t survive the heat. We got up to 110° F (43° C) this week and she would have died in that heat because she would rather dehydrate than walk the couple of feet to get water. I keep a waterer with me when she’s outside and it’s moved around so it’s always in reach. Inside she has an ac vent right next to the crate and she has a piece of cardboard directing the airflow into the crate. The corner next to the vent is her favorite spot because she can watch me when I’m in the kitchen from that vantage point. She has also made friends with Fizzgig and Gizmo and Miss Mia goes to check on her every time she makes any noises. She’s officially a pet now and will never be food.

Other projects that have happened on the Homestead include sprouting seeds, grains, and lentils for the chickens. (and lentils for my own enjoyment)

I purchased these sprouting trays on Amazon and have been soaking everything in old sauce jars in the kitchen window.

I am even trying birdseed out of curiosity.

The next project will be fermenting the chicken feed. The reasoning behind fermenting involves multiple reasons. The first reason and the reason I know fermented chicken feed exists happened because it rained and the feed in the run got soaked. I wanted to be absolutely certain that it was safe for them to eat this wet feed. So, I dumped it out of the feeder onto a metal baking sheet after doing my research. While searching for an answer, I came across hundreds of posts about fermenting feed and I was intrigued.

What I learned was this, not only is it safe for chickens to eat wet feed as long as it isn’t moldy, fermented feed has a number of benefits when done properly. The chickens absorb more nutrients from the fermented feed and get probiotics into their system from the fermented feed, but it also saves money and cuts down on the amount of wasted feed from them kicking, scratching, and generally knocking feed onto the ground below the feeder. To ferment the feed, you fill a food grade 5 gallon plastic bucket a third of the way full, add water, stir, wait a bit, add more water, stir, and then loosely cover so it can release the gasses formed by the fermentation process (think of it like bread rising, the feed expands while absorbing the water.) Let it sit for 3 days and then feed to the flock. There’s a little bit more to it, but I will make another pot and I may take video so you can watch the process step by step.

I will leave you all with a picture of Fizzgig (white and gray) and Gizmo (calico) and the wonderful news that our youngest of seven kiddos graduated from high school on June 1st, 2019. He graduated with honors, president’s honor roll (3.5 to 4.0 GPA), and membership in the National Honor Society. We couldn’t be more proud of him.

Until next time….

Chickens

More Chicken Adventures

I have been so busy trying to keep the coop clean, keep the run clean, and finding ideas for shade for my chickens. So, I am going to share what I have learned.

First, Sweet PDZ is freaking amazing.

I purchased two bags from Tractor Supply (I bought all they had) and sprinkled about two cups in the problem areas of the coop I sort of mixed it into the bedding so it was spread from the floor to the top by the time I was finished. I was being attacked by flies, mosquitoes, and gnats while I was doing this. An hour later, I went back into the coop because I had to spread some fresh bedding before Cheep Cheep Bedtime. Oh my gawd. The difference was beyond amazing. The smell was gone, the flying annoyances were gone, and I smelled absolutely nothing except for the pine shavings. I will never be without this amazing stuff again. This bag was around $8.00 I believe. It worked so quickly to reduce odor and moisture.

I also built the flock a hidey hole.

My youngest kiddo helped by cutting half of the bottom of the barrel off and then filing down rough edges. Then, he drilled holes in the bottom in the 5 pattern on dice for drainage just in case rainwater blows into the hidey hole.

When that was completed, I washed the barrel thoroughly with soap and water and then dried it. I added a nice fluffy layer of fine cut pine shavings and sweet PDZ. Then we put it in place in the run and added a cinderblock on each side so it would stay in place and no rolling away. I think the best part is that perching on top of it is rather difficult because it’s both rounded and a smooth surface. They will eventually figure out how to perch on it, but for now, it will stay poop-free. I also added a nice flat rock in front of it so they had a bit of a step to get inside easier. A few jumped in and right back out, but they were all interested.

While all of this was being inspected, I scooped up Chicken Little for a quick snuggle. He was so mad at me when I put him down. I think I may have embarrassed him in front of all of his women.

While I was at Tractor Supply, I picked up the next two stages of feed, oyster shell for added calcium, two 5-gallon buckets so, I can start fermenting their feed, and another waterer because temperatures are rising in Oklahoma.

I also grabbed a bag of scratch grains because the run is pretty much just dirt now and I wanted them to have something to scratch for. I bring in oodles of weeds and grasses every day for them.

I made them a dedicated dustbath from a sprint car tire, which hubby was kind enough to fold in half for me because these tires are HUGE. This folded tire will not collect water at all. I have to get some sand, gather some ash from the fire pit, and add some peat, but it is getting there. They love the tire because it’s nice to perch on.

I raked the run and put everything into a pile, which they essentially compost for me because they dig through it and I rake it back up and then, this cycle is repeated until there’s nothing left except for soil.

They chase the rake back and forth through the run as I am raking because I usually end up causing grasshoppers to jump or worms to be above ground. They go absolutely crazy for grasshoppers.

At the end of each raking they have a fun pile to dig through to find bugs and other tasty bits.

I FINALLY GOT VIDEO!!! Chicken Little is developing his crow and he sounds like a squeaky toy when he crows and it is just freaking adorable. (This was taken before the run was raked so you can see just how messy it is)

They have so much personality and seem to love my phone. They are also very attracted to my mint green nails and constantly trying to eat them. My toenails were also amusement when I made the mistake of wearing flip flops one night to put them to bed. My toenails are Tiffany and Co blue so I’m guessing they looked tasty too because I had a lot of beaks pecking at my toes. I normally wear my muck boots or tennis shoes, but I was tired and too lazy to put on real shoes. Bad idea.

They also love to perch directly on my back or shoulders and peck at my hair ties. (Hubby mowed the yard the following day so it no longer looks like a jungle outside of the run)

We still need to finish mowing the property, but a storm was rolling in so he had to stop mowing.

I have a few more projects for the chicken run to include planting inside of the run so they always have access to fresh plant matter. This will help me because I wont have to collect weeds every single day for them to eat. I will be trying out a few different methods for planting inside of the run so, I will be sure to document the process. I am also going to attempt to transplant some bushes that are planted around the front porch to inside of the run. I know theh won’t eat these bushes and I am hopeful that they will take root and will be a nice place to provide shade for the chickens. If you haven’t noticed yet. My chickens are completely spoiled. I am doing everything possible to make sure they live happy, healthy lives while providing me with fresh eggs (they aren’t laying yet). I have been informed about bobcat, coyote, stray dog, hawk, owl, and raccoon attacks to friends with chickens who all live near me and they are all free ranging their chickens. I want mine to be completely safe so I am doing everything possible to keep them safe while also finding ways to provide them with fresh plants, plenty of crunchy bugs and squishy worms, and whatever else they need to have happy healthy lives. I don’t want them stuck in an existence of dirt and bedding so, I am looking for ways to plant inside of the run. I will be planting peas all around the run tomorrow so they will climb the fencing and the chickens can munch on fresh peas. I am looking for a way to do the same with other climbing plants so they have all sorts of tasty snacks at their disposal. Any suggestions for planting inside or right outside of the run are always welcome, just leave a comment or send an email.

Until next time….

Adventures, Chickens

The Coop Building Has Begun (Oops I forgot to publish this) from 2018

So, my whole body hurts and I am sunburned in weird places like the tops of my hands and the backs of my legs, but the chicken coop is starting to take shape. (Yes, I was nicely coated in sunblock and reapplied it several times, but I still burned.) Last weekend, we set the support posts into 3 foot holes, which I dug rather crookedly and we didn’t notice until after the posts were set.

I hate Oklahoma clay when digging is involved. Those holes may not look like much, but it was similar to digging through rock with a shovel. Hubby kindly explained, after I finished digging, that it’s easier to dig if you dump water in the holes. I worked really hard on those holes. It killed me when he told me just how crooked they were.

I mean, seriously, that’s a LOT of dirt. The wheelbarrow is bigger than I am when it leans against the garage. I am 5 ft. 1 in. In height. This was a huge accomplishment for me.

Hubby also decided I needed shade after taking one look at me. I became a lobster rather quickly. Those posts are shockingly level. The ground is not level, but the support posts are level.

Once the posts had a chance to settle for a few days, we started building the coop to line up with my crooked posts. None of us wanted to dig new holes. So, the walls went up first.

Remember how I said I was going to frame it with pallets, well Hubby decided that he was taking over my project and went out and bought a ton of plywood. Also, remember how crooked that cut on the compost tumbler door was, you will know exactly which parts I cut as you continue through the pictures. I was fully supervised with the power tools and saws freak me out. I wore my gloves and safety glasses because I don’t want splinters in my eyeballs.

As the walls went up, Hubby was walking around the coop slowly asking me how I planned on roofing it. I explained I wanted a slant roof with a slight overhang and a gap between the walls and roof, which I would close off from predators with construction fabric or this roll of fencing that has 1 inch square holes. This roll of fencing is extremely thick and he’s guessing it is meant for goats. He was thrilled I didn’t want a normal roof. I don’t think he wanted to try to frame out my crooked little square building.

See how uneven the ground is? He made the coop door for the chickens rather large. His reasoning was, what if two chickens want to leave at the same time? I couldn’t argue with that reasoning. Please, don’t panic about those gaps. The floor has not been built yet and this coop will be safe from predators. We are burying fencing almost 2 ft. out from the building walls and the floor will start with concrete pavers and then, plywood on top of the pavers secured to the walls with those L-shaped brackets used for industrial shelving. There are a few reasons behind this flooring design, but the main reason is to keep the inside of the coop dry. Because of the slope, rainwater would run right through the coop. With the concrete pavers, there will be space for water to flow through, but the coop floor will not get wet. The pavers we are using are almost 6 inches thick. They will also deter predators who manage to get past the fencing while digging. We will also be digging out the floor a bit to make it level prior to installing pavers.

I wanted a rounded top door, but once I tried cutting it with the jigsaw, I got maybe an inch cut and told hubby to make it a triangle. (I draw crooked too 😂 He was not happy when he realized I drew a crooked triangle for him to cut out) I’m not sure if you can see it, but each wall is two pieces of plywood, stacked on top of each other. This was necessary because the coop itself is about 5 1/2 feet tall. I can comfortably walk through the door, but everyone else has to duck.

The triangular topped door has some 2×4 boards as support because a plywood door is kind of flimsy. There are also 2×4 boards on the inside around the doorway because he wanted to make sure an animal couldn’t pull the door off easily. Also, the door will have to withstand Oklahoma winds, which can be 70 mph and higher. My neighbors were outside while we were building. (You can see their house, which is an acre away, in the 7th picture.) Her hubby will be over next weekend to assist and learn (He has never built anything either) because his wife decided she wants chickens over on her property. So, he’s going to help and then, when he starts building, we will help them because they are fabulous neighbors. We don’t have any other neighbors aside from a concrete prefabrication place (which is a little bit south of us, past her property and across the street from her and I have the School’s Agricultural Farm north of me.) So, we always help each other out whenever help is needed.

Hubby lined up the t-posts for the run just to see how big he wanted it. He wants it to go to the first tree right next to the nose of the truck. I know what you are thinking, that’s way too short of a fence for chickens and they will jump or fly over it. Not to worry, the run will be fully enclosed. I am taking pvc piping and arching it over the run area then, I have two dump truck covers (they are heavy duty mesh material) and they will go over top of the pvc arches. The run will be fully enclosed and the cover will provide shade because it is black. If you have no idea what I am talking about, think of a dump truck hauling sand, rock, or gravel, they have a tarp like cover over their load. That’s what I am using. Hubby brings me home the coolest things. He works on diesel engines so, he has access to some weird stuff, like dump truck covers that have minor fraying at the edges and are no longer deemed safe by the company. They throw them away or let mechanics take them for projects such as my chicken coop and run. He also brings me blue plastic 55 gallon drums, pallets, and I have a dump truck liner as well. (I am using that for another project.)

In between the coop and the shed that needs a new floor and some other minor repairs, I am building a greenhouse. Eventually, the shed will also be a chicken coop with both coops sharing a run. One coop for meat birds and the other for laying hens. I have all sorts of projects planned. They just take time and money so, I am building them slowly. I am extremely grateful I have a husband who can weld, has tools, and while he laughs at me because of how bad I am at building things, he is always willing to help me so, my projects end up being useful instead of junk. I couldn’t have done any of this without him. I couldn’t even lift a sheet of plywood on my own. The kiddos (two adults and a 17 yr old) are also willing to sacrifice their weekends to help their Momma. Their reasoning is, “Momma, you never ask for anything so, when you ask for help, we are all going to help you.”

Our 21 yr old daughter’s boyfriend was extremely helpful because he can lift plywood sheets and he was happy to help. He’s looking forward to helping with the fencing because he does fencing as a side job. So, it will definitely be done right since he knows how to build fences.

An unrelated update, the horses we were boarding have moved to their new home. Their dad bought 20 acres after falling in love with the quiet on our property. He was so excited about owning his own land, but promised to bring them by for visits when he takes them to the park, where the rodeos are held (it’s a beautiful set of arenas) because it’s free to use. He also promised to give them their favorite treat once in a while. (Brown sugar and cinnamon poptarts) Yes, they are junk food as far as horses are concerned, but they were skittish and would run from him every time he came to feed and groom them. Then, I gave them each half of my poptarts and he would pull in and they would be at the gate by the time he got out of his vehicle. They got excited to see anyone. They mostly got apples, carrots, pears from the pear tree, and other fruits and veggies, but on rare occassions, I would either hand him the poptarts if he was trimming hooves, or bring them out myself. They have turned into extremely social horses and never run from him anymore. They were lovingly spoiled while here. All animals are spoiled here because I can’t help it, I have to spoil all of the animals.

I will continue to post updates on the chicken coop and run until it is completed. Then, the greenhouse build, and the updates to the shed. I will be ordering chicks from the hatchery once the last freeze date passes. (Mid to late May) I will be posting oodles of pictures. I have to find a way to tell them apart because the hens and single rooster will have names. Any suggestions for identifying chicks and being able to tell them apart prior to feathering out? I thought about coloring a wing with food coloring, but I would need multiple colors and I would feel bad because that may be a shock to their little systems seeing their wing blue or purple or whatever. What do you name a chicken anyway? I thought about the seven dwarves, snow white, the queen, and the rooster as the huntsman, but my daughter wants to make one or two of them. We may name them after Harry Potter characters. I have still not decided on a breed either. Any suggestions for both extreme high temps and low temps? I want hardy chickens that can survive in snow. I will insulate the coop once it’s fully built.

Until next time….

Chickens, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Chick Update

The chicks are getting so big. They are fully feathered out and going outside during the day and back in at night.

It was super gloomy the other day and rain was on the forecast, but I didn’t want them stuck inside all day so, I sat outside and when it started sprinkling, I gathered them up and brought them back inside.

They really seem to enjoy all of the space in the run.

Hubby brought me a tire crate home. The gate is made from the top and bottom of the crate. I still need to paint it white to match and repaint the shed. The coop got a fresh coat of paint.

It looks like there is no fencing at all and there are two layers. One layer is chicken wire and the other is hog fencing. Hubby also built them a swing.

This is one of the sides of that tire crate. They are rather large tires. When he called and said he had something for me, I figured it was another window shipping crate. Nope, he brought me readymade fencing. 😂 He had no idea what I would do with it, but he knew I would have been upset if he had told me about it later and hadn’t brought it home. They seriously just break these apart and toss them in the dumpster. The wood is heat treated and I make sure he doesn’t bother with anything that doesn’t have a HT stamp. Chemical treated wood is useless to me.

I took a close up of the fencing. It really is two layers and the green fencing is buried 2-3 feet under the ground, to prevent anything from digging under the fencing and getting into the run. The coop is built, but I am still working on security and don’t want to take any risks. I will be laying huge stones around the coop itself to prevent digging even though the coop has a solid floor and pallets underneath the floor. The floor was raised to prevent flooding because of water runoff. I am EXTREMELY protective of the chicks because our friends put their chicks out and lost every single one within a weeks time. They had 50. I only have 15. I am taking my time and making absolutely sure that NOTHING can get in.

I also got the bird feeder out and it doesn’t swing in the extreme winds here. I secured it to the tree with electrical fencing wire. It was heavy duty enough for the job. We also finally mowed the property for the first time this spring. (still need to weedeat). We also took down a HUGE tree branch that was threatening the powerline from the old dairy building to the stalls. I will get some pictures of that later. Oh, I almost forgot, I started painting the planter boxes (window shipping crates.)

They still need holes drilled in them, but they are ready to be drilled, filled, and planted. Hubby also bought me roses. Three bushes. I LOVE roses.

Two will go in the large window shipping crate and the third will go in a large planter that was used for tomatoes a few years ago. (It’s pretty large. I can’t lift it when it’s full.) I made sure to get three different kinds of roses. I know one is Oklahoman, but I can’t remember what the other two are.

Until next time….

Chickens

Chick Update

It’s been an eventful week. Chicks are mean. They peck each other and draw blood. I now have purple chicks because we had some pecking issues and blood feathers were hit. The chicks are purple (and blue) because I first sprayed them with an antiseptic spray mixed with blue food coloring while waiting for the Blu-kote to arrive. Chickens are attracted to red and when blood feathers are pecked at, they bleed and well, bloody chicks are an attractive thing to peck.

I woke up to two bloody chicks. I would have plucked the blood feathers and called it a day, but it was more than just one or two. I had two almost completely red chicks because they had all night to beat these two babies up and peck at them profusely. I accidentally forgot to grab Blu-kote when I bought the chicks so I did the next best thing and sprayed them blue after bathing them so they weren’t all bloody and blow drying them so they weren’t soaked.

Blue food coloring fades pretty quickly when chicks are grooming themselves because of their injuries. So, last night they were separated from the rest of the flock so they would not be brutalized further. I ordered Blu-kote from Amazon (They overnighted it, which is awesome and I didn’t pay for overnight shipping. I just used my Prime 2 day shipping.) Today they got sprayed and I made sure to cover any bald spots because they are kind of reddish under their white feathers. I wanted to make absolutely certain they didn’t get pecked at anymore.

They are rather colorful, but they are not being pecked at anymore.

Blu-kote is an antiseptic spray that is really dark violet and this is what it is meant for, but I still feel awful that they were pecked in the first place.

I should have worn gloves. 😂😂😂

I determined that the pecking happened out of boredom so, I made some perches and swings from PVC and 550 cord (parachute cord is what I think it’s called outside of the military)

They seem to like the perches and swings.

This is the most amazing thing ever. It’s a PVC cutter. I cut old PVC from when we replaced the entire well system and I was able to cut pieces in a matter of minutes.

It was super simple. It ratchets tighter as you squeeze the handles together over and over.

Chicken little has grown a bit, but is still teenie tiny compared to everyone else.

They also like standing on the food and water dispensers. (This chick is named Little Red Hen. I can tell her apart from the other Rhode Island Reds because she’s always perched on something.) Their beak coloring is also unique to each chick.

They have gotten treats such as henbit, apples, and chickweed. They loved the apples and the greens. They have almost fully feathered out. Just waiting for their heads to be less fluffy.

We will move them to the coop with a heat lamp next weekend. This weekend is just too cold, but next week it will be in the 90’s (30’s Celsius) it’s currently in the 30’s at night(-1 Celsius) so, that’s just too cold. I will turn on the heat lamp in the coop as needed, but they haven’t used the heat lamp during the day for over a week. At night they only have it on if I have the air conditioning on. My house stays in the 60s upstairs (15° C) and 70s downstairs (21° C) . They have been comfortable. I will post again soon and they should be in the coop by then.

Until next time…

Chickens

Chicken Coop Updates

I didn’t take any photos because it started raining and we had to clean up quickly before we got soaked.

I will try to get some photos tomorrow if it doesn’t rain again. Today, after my appointment, which involved two cortisone injections in my lower back, Hubby decided we were going to work on the coop. Okay, I’m game. Let me tell you, I don’t regret getting it to the point we reached but, I do regret not icing my back while working on it. Ouch.

First, we secured the cover with more hose clamps, we still need a few more, but both sides are secure. Then, we buried a bit more heavy duty fencing around the perimeter of the run. That was fun. We also replaced the zip strips that were temporarily holding fencing in place with pieces of plastic coated metal (sort of like heavy duty twist ties.) Fencing is beyond secure. Then, we laid subflooring inside the coop. (I will explain this in a moment) finally we figured out how to close off the end of the coop securely without any gaps or any way for any possible predator to gain entrance. (Fencing overlapping bottom fencing and folded over the PVC arch, but under the cover and held in place with hose clamps and those super heavy duty twist ties at the bottom.

Okay, I’m going to explain the subflooring for those who haven’t been following along. (I am also going to add a few older pictures of the coop just for visual reference. I will get new ones as soon as I can.)

This is the coop prior to today’s additions.

(You will see the white fence I refer to very well in this picture and the coop itself up close.)

Notice how much shade the cover for the run provides. (The cover is a dump truck cover. Hubby rescued two destined for the garbage for me from work. He brings me home the neatest things. The PVC was inside of our well, but we replaced that with flex pipe last year. I of course kept all of the old PVC because I had a plan.)

The coop and run are at the very back of the back yard. Not the back of the property. We have a white metal pipe and cable fence that goes around what would be a normal sized back yard. We didn’t install this fence, it was here when we bought the house. I’m sure it cost a fortune, but it is rather strange how they did it because it is in small sections. It’s just weird. So, backyard slopes downward because of what happens when it rains.

In Oklahoma, we have clay and sandy soil. It turns rock hard in the summer months if it isn’t kept damp (I keep the garden areas damp through daily watering.) It will actually form cracks when it gets really hot and dry. So, because of the location of my coop, we could not just install a floor flat to the ground or there would be some serious issues with water after the rain. Instead, we waited for a really good rainfall to decide how to deal with the flooring. The path of rainwater goes right through the coop. We decided to raise the floor so, rainwater can go under the coop without causing any flooding inside the coop. It goes through the end of the run as well, but I have an idea for that as well so, I’m not worried about having any water-logging issues in the run.

The sub-floor is raised up to the height of a regular red brick on its side. (Yes, I am putting a ramp in for the chickens because I don’t need them getting a broken leg from jumping even though I know a chicken can “fly” enough to jump a fence or get into a tree. So, there are bricks and pallets in the coop waiting for the flooring. The flooring is one of my very random ideas, but hubby agreed that it was a fabulous idea and it will be completely waterproof so, I can rinse out the coop with a garden hose if it gets really gross. We had a rectangular above ground pool in the spot where the chicken coop is currently sitting so, it is somewhat level in some areas still from that pool. (It was one of the easy up type pools with metal braces holding up just the liner part. Not expensive and doesn’t last more than a few years.) I am cutting the pool (thick plastic almost as thick as wood paneling.) And lining the floor and about a foot up the wall of the coop. I will be able to clean the coop easily and we are going to try the deep litter method first so the plywood under the plastic will not rot from moisture in the bedding we use for the coop. If I don’t like the deep litter method, we will switch to sand, which can be scooped and then deep litter for winter because it gets cold here.

I am not currently running any electric to the coop. I have sat inside of it in both summer and winter, there is no need for it in either. In the summer, the run is cooler than standing outside of the run because the cover provides amazing shade while still allowing airflow. I was comfortable inside the run when it was 112° F (44° C). I was in the shade with the breeze blowing and the coop has good airflow as well, which will change during winter, but not be completely sealed because chickens need fresh air. The plastic will also provide a seal against any drafts coming from under the coop. It’s really thick so even if a snake tried to get in, it would not get through the plastic. I am not worried about other predators because we buried more fencing and it’s NOT chicken wire, which was what we had buried flat. We doubled up by adding what was labeled goat fencing over top of the chicken wire that was buried. (There are hog panels and goat fencing behind the chicken wire all around the coop. I know that animals can get through chicken wire. It is there for extra protection. The cover is in place for multiple reasons, the first being hawks. The second reason is owls, then, for shade, and cats because cats can climb. (We have either a large bobcat or a mountain lion crossing the back of the property.) They aren’t getting into this coop or the run. I have been EXTREMELY anal about the security of the coop because we have four packs of coyotes around us, one pack in each direction and they are getting brave. I watched the neighbors dog chase one down the street in broad daylight. This coyote was in her backyard where her small children play.

The last thing I want is to get chicks, raise them until feathered out inside, then, lose them to a coyote or another predator as soon as they start living in the coop. I waited an entire year to make sure the coop itself could withstand Oklahoma wind. (We had a nasty storm with 70-80 mph gusts and it didn’t cause any damage to the coop. It destroyed the run. This is why I canceled my order of chicks last year and waited until this year. I get chicks next month so, forgive me if I take a zillion pictures. I have been waiting forever for chickens.

I’m sure I sound super overprotective and probably a little like a hoarder because I kept things like PVC from the well, an entire pool, and hubby brings me home things like plastic barrels and dump truck covers and dump truck liners. I also have a massive stack of wooden pallets, which he was also amazing enough to bring home for me. He has learned over the years that I have a use for every weird thing he brings me. It will become something amazing even if it doesn’t seem like it when he brings it home.

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot the best part. He gave me an electrical saw I am allowed to use without him hovering over me. He got me a sawzall!!! (I think I spelled that right.) He also got me a package of blades so I can cut apart my pallets build my projects. I am allowed to use a nail gun unsupervised and I have my own drill so, I have always been able to use that. I have to wear safety glasses (I have a purple pair and a pink pair.) and these weird gloves that are supposed to keep me from accidentally cutting myself when changing the blades. I am apparently terrifying when I use a saw. 😂 I doubt I will ever do any actual cutting by myself, but I am not terrifying according to both him and our youngest with the sawzall. To be honest, electric saws terrify me so, I usually let him or one of the kiddos cut things. (all of our kiddos are adults.) He also got me a giant box of wood screws and a big box of nails. (I think they are roofing nails, but they serve their purpose. I call them multipurpose nails 😂) I was always complaining that I could not find a nail or a wood screw when I was putting in hiding spots in the rafters of the dairy building for the barn kitties so now, I have more than enough of both. I think I have rambled enough for one post. (I have one more to write, but it has nothing to do with the chicken coop.)

Until next time….

Adventures, Chickens

Chicken Coop Round 2

Last year, we set up the coop and the run and right after I placed an order for chicks, we had a nasty storm that wiped out my run. I am EXTREMELY grateful that the company I ordered chicks from was kind enough to allow me to cancel my order since the chicks hadn’t hatched yet. We decided to watch what the weather did and how it affected the coop and run over the year and update designs and ensure that the chicks would be completely safe once they were calling the coop and run home.

This photo is OLD!!! This was taken of the coop and run when we built them last spring. The storm did a number on the run, the cover was ripped halfway off and almost got taken away by the wind, three of the PVC arches were ripped off of the fence posts, and 2 fence posts were ripped out of the ground completely. We fixed the fence post issue with concrete during the Fall. it isn’t a ton of concrete, so we will be able to remove the posts, if we decide to widen the run or move it completely.

This weekend, we put the cover back on the run. For those of you who haven’t be here since the beginning, the cover for the run is a dump truck cover, normally used to keep loads of sand, soil, and gravel from blowing out of the truck. Hubby brought me home two that were destined for the dump because they had EXTREMELY minor damage such as small holes or a rip or two that could easily be repaired. (I did patch all of the holes and rips and it took exactly 15 min.)

So, the cover is back on, this time we used hose clamps instead of lacing wire. We ran out of hose clamps halfway through so, I am waiting for my order of hose clamps to be delivered by UPS before I can finish securing the cover. We had some nasty wind so, I know it is secure this time and definitely not going anywhere this time.

It looks really nasty out, but it was 68° F (20°C) and perfect weather for what we were doing. Hubby and I also decided to take an old screen door from the dairy building (I have a bunch of windows and doors in there from the house being updated) and it is now the door to the run. We mounted it on the back side of the coop because it seemed like the best place for it. I didn’t take pictures of the door yet because that section of fencing isn’t completely finished yet. I will continue to take pictures as we complete tasks.

After the cover was secured, we started on fencing. When the companies that sell fencing seal up these rolls of fencing, they wrap them in lacing wire and then in plastic. The problem with this is that the lacing wire blends in with the fencing and is very difficult to see. It took longer to open the rolls of fencing than it did to secure them to the posts.

Again, I am waiting for hose clamps, which will also be used to secure the fencing to the posts properly. For the moment, zip strips and lacing wire is holding the fencing in place. This is not just a single layer of chicken wire. There are hog panels behind the chicken wire on the inside of the coop. It is coated with green plastic so, it just blends and looks pretty much invisible both in pictures and from the back porch.

It really did look like it was going to storm. We didn’t get any rain, just a bunch of brutal wind. If you look closely at the photo above, you will see weird rectangles in the grass. Those are hog panels. I told you, they blend. 😁 Hubby also wants two strands of electric fencing set at 1 ft and 3 ft as a perimeter around the coop. Our friends have lost every chicken every time they start laying eggs. I keep reminding him that they don’t secure the coop entrance and the door from the coop to the run is just a doorway and not secure at all, but he wants electrical fencing. I figure it will come in handy when we eventually get calves (this is going to be a while because neither of us know anything about cattle and we are doing research and talking to people who raise huge herds.) Also, he’s male and from my experience, every guy enjoys cool things like electrical fencing, tractors, and 4 wheelers. So, I am looking at electrical fencing as his part in the whole aspect of having chickens.😂😂 If it keeps them safe great, even if it is a bit ridiculous in my mind. The shutoff switch will be on the front of the coop and the fence will be about 2-3 feet away from the fencing on all sides, so don’t panic, the chickens won’t get zapped. (That was my concern too when he said he wanted it.)

Currently we still need to secure everything once the hose clamps arrive. (I ordered a pack of 100) Then, we have to finish enclosing the run. The end of the run is still open above the fencing so, that needs fencing, the area where we put the screen door needs fencing and the door itself needs fencing because it currently has plastic screen installed. We need to add a few screws to the roof where wind has peeled up the roofing a bit and then silicone to seal where screws are added. Then, cinderblocks around the run at the bottom of the fencing (it is buried, but cinderblocks add more protection). I still need to install roosting areas and nesting boxes. Then, a raised floor because water flows right through the coop when it rains so we will let the water continue its natural course and raise the floor by adding a floor of pavers with plywood above them. This will keep predators from going under the coop to try to get in while supporting the raised floor. I will also secure fencing around the base of the coop, buried of course. Finally, I need to order chicks again.

Once chicks are feathered out and living in their new home, I will get to work on the shed next to the coop. It will become a second coop and it will be sharing a run with the other coop. We will move the door, add another dumptruck cover from the end of the run, over the coop, and attached to the shed roof. We have already fenced in the back side of the area between the two buildings because we used the white metal fence to support the new fencing. It just seemed logical to go ahead and fence it while we were installing the fencing. I may add another building on the end of the run for ducks, but I haven’t decided yet. I definitely want ducks, but they obviously need a water source and I don’t know if I want to sink a kiddie pool that close to the house. I may put them on the back side of the chicken coop and run. I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Until next time…

Journal Style Posts

It’s So Unbearably Hot…

The temperature has stayed in triple digits here and I swear the thermometer outside is lying and it is 300° F instead of 102° during the day. I have no choice, but to go outside into this hellish weather during the day. I feel like I am internally combusting each time I step out of the shade and into the direct sunlight. It is simply too hot for humans and animals. I always feel sorry for black cattle because black attracts heat so they must be miserable.

The field across from my house was cut down and baled this week.

I am of course allergic to hay so, that just makes going outdoors even more miserable on top of the high temperatures. The only things growing on our property are weeds, which I am sort of happy about because we are waiting for the new deck to be delivered by UPS.

This weekend, I get to go to one of my favorite places, Harbor Freight. (it’s mostly a tool store, but they also have things like yard tools, food dehydrators, ceramic knives, etc.) We are going for hose clamps for the chicken coop. The PVC held up rather well considering, but we don’t want a repeat of the damage from the last storm.

Yes, everything looks super green and lush, but its mostly weeds shading the dead grass. There is some grass still growing. This particular section is green grass, with tons of lamb’s quarters all in the run. (I am not mowing them because they will die off just before winter and seed the ground. The chickens will have a field day with them and they grow super fast.)

This is an overgrown lamb’s quarter. I am told they are edible and taste like spinach. I was told the same about Poke weed. (Aka Polk salat. Poke salad, and just Poke) However, Poke weed is poisonous unless you cook it a specific way and I am just not risking it when I can grow or buy spinach. Lamb’s quarters are not poisonous. I researched it, but I have no urge to eat them. I will forage for sand plums, morrels, and a few other native species, but they are worth it in my opinion. Something that tastes like spinach simply isn’t worth it. They are one of those plants that thrive in these miserable temperatures. It is very strange how weeds can survive almost anything, but plants that produce food are EXTREMELY finicky.

Fizzgig and Gizmo are enjoying the cooler temperature indoors. (The air conditioning still is not fixed, but I manage to keep it going just enough to keep it cool indoors. The parts came in so the company should be out this week to fix it finally.)

Gizmo has taken up residence at the foot of my bed. She is thoroughly enjoying the fan next to the bed blowing on her nonstop.

Fizzgig prefers the window in the mudroom. There is a vent that blows a small amount of air behind the curtain so, he has a nice cool breeze and a gigantic sunbeam to enjoy while looking out across the backyard. The backyard has a perfectly clear view of the sunset each evening while the front yard gets the sunrise.

The reason I was outside in these miserable temperatures was to fill in holes in the backyard.

We have a dog sized armadillo digging holes all over the yard. I am quite certain that this is also the culprit behind the gigantic holes that are randomly found across the back of the property. These are very deep holes. I saw the armadillo the other day, but I didn’t want to wake hubby to deal with it because he had to get up at 5:00 am and it was 2:30 am. He told me he didn’t care what time it was, if I saw it again, wake him up. It is destroying our yard and he says it is a chicken predator. (I honestly don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t want it digging under the coop or run and leaving holes for chicks to fall into.)

There is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week and I honestly hope it rains so it will cool down, but I don’t want the humidity that comes with the rain. It’s a lose-lose situation. Until next time…

Journal Style Posts

If It Can Go Wrong, It Will Go Wrong….

I swear, we take one step forward and three steps backwards every time we try to do something to improve the homestead. We had a very nasty storm roll through and then, another nasty one immediately behind it. The coop and run survived the first storm and held up rather well. Nothing flooded, the inside of the coop stayed fairly dry considering there is a large open window on the north side of the coop. The floor was dry and I was shocked. The second storm came with 85 mph winds and hail. The coop stayed intact for the most part. Some of the plywood is warped and will need to be reinforced. The run was demolished. The entire cover ripped off and two of the PVC pipes were ripped out of the ground and the lacing wire snapped from the force. Hubby and I took one look at the destruction and decided that we were going to wait until March to get chicks and try to find a way to keep the run intact during storms like the ones we just encountered. I have been trying to figure out some way to secure the PVC piping to the fence posts that will survive our destructive storms.

I have come to the conclusion that hose clamps may be our best bet for securing the PVC. (Most held fairly well with the lacing wire, but I want to be certain that every single one will hold in the future.) As far as the dump truck cover, I am still trying to figure out how to secure it without cutting any holes in it because that will just cause rips to form over time. Zip strips are not strong enough to withstand the extreme wind. We will also be setting the fence posts in concrete because they were pushed by the wind and are now leaning inwards instead of being straight. I have never seen such destruction from storms and wind, aside from hurricanes and tornadoes. These were just our normal springtime storms.

Aside from the chicken coop and run being destroyed, the air conditioning is still not fixed. The company that is supposed to be fixing it told me a week ago that they ordered parts. Yet, I am still waiting for them to come fix it. It has been in the 100’s and its brutally hot outside. (For those of you across the pond, that temperature is in Farenheit. Today, it is 39° Celsius, which is 103° Farenheit.) It’s hot and miserable outside.

Nice and frozen isn’t it?!

On top of the Air conditioning being messed up and the coop being destroyed, the lawnmower deck broke today. They say bad things come in threes, well, that’s three. I ordered a replacement deck for the riding mower. Thankfully we live outside city limits so we cant be fined for not mowing our grass. Hubby managed to mow the front before the deck broke. I didn’t bother planting a garden this year because of the lack of rain in March and April. We have had 5 days of rain since March. I would have lost everything I planted because of the temperature and drought.

I did plant some herbs in pots in the kitchen window and they are thriving. My aloe plant I was given 3 years ago by a friend in Florida bloomed again this year. She mailed it in a ziploc bag in the middle of summer. I am still shocked it survived the mail. It takes up most of my kitchen window now and will definitely need a bigger pot next spring. I have also been attempting to sprout avocado pits. They will be indoor trees if they survive, but I love avocado. My kitchen window extends outwards from the house by about a foot (30 cm) and it has shelves. It is a greenhouse window and I love it. Fizzgig makes it difficult to fill with plants because it is one of his favorite napping spots.

This is my little greenhouse window. I know it looks like that house is fairly close, but it is an acre away. This is a photo I found in my phone and my aloe plant is much larger now, but it gives a better idea of what I am talking about when I say greenhouse window. I love this window because the sun never shines directly in my face. It’s a north facing window so, it receives great light, without the harsh glare from the sun. On the top shelf, you can see a lumpy shape with points on top. This is one of my favorite finds from the attic. It is a handmade clay owl, which was made by one of the Bowlin children. (The Bowlin family were the second owners of our home and the house stayed in the family from the 1920s to the early 1980s.) I adore this little owl. It makes me smile even when it seems like everything is going wrong or falling apart. It makes me remember that nothing is perfect, but the imperfections are what make things both unique and beautiful.

We will get the coop and run situated and it will be able to withstand whatever Oklahoma weather can throw at it. (Hubby thinks he wants to make it bigger since he has until March to fix the run and work on the coop itself.) I am EXTREMELY happy that the wind didn’t rip the dumptruck cover completely off and take it away from our property. It has been removed, folded up, and stored safely until we can go get some hose clamps to secure it to the PVC. We are also going to secure the PVC to the fence posts with hose clamps. This seemed like a logical step for stability during storms. A few bags of quick settling concrete will help ensure that the fence posts stay in the ground during storms with high winds. The whole run will go up like a kite if the wind is strong enough and the fence posts dont have concrete. (Another reason Hubby wants to make it bigger is because concrete makes it permanent in his mind.) Some of the plywood warped from the winds so he will probably end up taking the whole thing down and starting from scratch knowing him. I am perfectly okay with this because I know no matter what he does to it between now and March, it will be the safest and most secure coop possible.

While I am a bit disappointed, I am also EXTREMELY patient. Things happen and you just do the best you can to continue forward and work towards finding a solution.

While writing and editing this post, one more bad thing happened. We lost one of the ginger kittens. I have no idea what happened to the little guy. I went to the dairy building to feed them and I found him outside of the building. The building was secured and there was no sign of anything trying to get inside. Mrs. Weasley moved the remaining three kittens and I don’t blame her. I buried the kitten and placed a very large chunk of rock over where I buried him. I didn’t want coyotes or anything else digging him up. He was killed by another small animal. I feel so bad for his siblings and his momma. She still comes and eats, but there has been no sign of her kittens. I have no idea where she stashed them. I only hope they are safe and sound wherever she has them. 😔

I think that is enough bad news for one post. Next time, I hope to have MUCH better news. Until next time…