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….

Adventures, Chickens

Chicken Coop Disaster Averted

This past weekend was filled with nonstop rain, which was probably a good thing because it became abundantly clear that the spot I had decided upon for the chicken coop was definitely NOT going to work out as planned. I walked out towards the edge of the fenced area, which we refer to as put backyard and slowly but surely began to sink into the muddy Bermuda grass. This was a Major issue. I began walking the fence line to see if it was just that section or if I had to rethink my entire plan from the beginning.

I sunk in several places, but the worst was almost ankle-deep. I can’t have chickens sinking into a mud pit and a coop isn’t something that is easily moved. I also don’t want them getting wet, as my coop plan looks like a small cottage garden shed. This was not looking good. Then, I walked over to the garden shed in the corner of the yard, the one I had originally planned on turning into a chicken coop, and the ground wasn’t squishy. (I actually squealed with joy when I came to this realization.)

I squished my way back to the house to have hubby come approve my new spot because decisions are made together when something is built or added and we both have to look at it. He came out in his muck boots after looking at mime, which were caked in mud and Bermuda grass. (I hate Bermuda grass.) He agreed with my squishy vs. solid ground  assessment and preferred this new spot to my original spot. He also noted that it would be a much shorter walk in the winter months when our backyard turns into a sheet of ice and snow.

The new spot will need a bit of leveling and I convinced him to drive to the back of the property where previous owners dumped various building materials into a fenced in pit right next to the ravine there our property fencing ends. (We own half of the ravine and it is fenced to show the property line, but our fencing that we keep up with stops before the ravine.) Among the random bits of old plumbing, rotting wood, and other random building materials that have been in this pile for who knows how long, there is a lovely pile of rocks. These aren’t small rocks, these are rather large and I can’t pick them up. They are flat on the top sort of like rocks that would be used to make a path and all are at least a foot wide. They are irregularly shaped and orange, like almost everything in Oklahoma. He piled these into the bed of the pickup and delivered them to the new location of my coop in progress. (I dismantled the pallets this past weekend, which was no easy feat.) These rocks will either become the foundation of the coop, or a predator deterrent around the coop. Either way, they will be used.

I also had him get on the ladder and pull down the corrugated metal roofing sheets, the sheets and scraps of plywood, and the 2×4 and 4×8 boards, which were in the rafters in the garage. Then, I had him pull down the split fence posts that he had stashed in the old dairy building rafters for me last year. These will be roosts  they are round wooden fence posts that have been split down the middle. I found them in that pile of random building materials and stashed them so they wouldn’t rot out in the elements.

I am trying to decide of the remains of the bottle calf shelter, which was taken out by 80 mph winds last spring will be useful for the chicken coop run. The corrugated metal roofing sheets will definitely be used, but the wrought iron fencing posts that were welded together to make a frame for the roof, may not work for the coop.

Perhaps, it will work for a goat pen or a pig pen because I want micro piggies just because. I also want ducks, cows, and a donkey. Everyone says they are mean and I don’t want one. I definitely do want one and I would name him Eeyore. I don’t care if everyone says donkeys are mean, I have never met a mammal I didn’t like. Reptiles and insects fall into the iffy category. I like some, but not others. I want as many critters as I can fit on 10 acres. I want to figure out how to make our puddle of a pond a bit deeper so i can stock it with fish as well. I have entirely too many projects.

The chicken coop and double barrel compost bin will both be finished and put into place this weekend and hopefully I won’t be too exhausted and I can go get my baby chicks. I will be testing out some designs for feeders found on Pinterest and will let you know how each design pans out. I will also be testing a rain gutter and water barrel watering system. I am really hopeful that the rain barrel system works out well because I have three options for a water source and none of them are very close to the coop location. One is on the front side of the house (left side when facing the house), one is on the right side of the house, half an acre from the house, and the last one is next to the horse stalls and 3 sided building. (I will draw up a layout of the property and post it as the featured picture for a post or place it on its own page.) Having a water source at the coop, which doesn’t require lugging water around would be beyond ideal and I have plenty of blue plastic barrels to build a rain barrel system that will hold plenty of water  I think one would be plenty since it holds 55 gallons, I will just need to  find a way to keep overflow from flooding the run and the coop, which shouldn’t be too difficult. I can just have a gutter system leading away from the coop and the run. Perhaps a small ditch to ensure nothing floods. I will keep you posted.

For the remainder of this week, I will be leveling out the new area chosen for the coop, deciding where to use those lovely rocks I made Hubby haul for me, and determining if the old bottle calf shelter can be used for the coop or the run. I will also be learning how to build feeders from pvc (I get to use the purple sealant stuff that makes me light-headed.) And I will be mixing up a batch of whitewash for the base-coat of the coop. I will be painting inside with whitewash and the outside with house paint. I also need to find a cute window flower box DIY  for the coop windows. Only because everything looks cuter with flowers.

Until next time…..