Tag Archives: Chicken coop

I’ve got a headache

Headaches, do they really need to rule your day? or are they more just a symptom of apathy or depression? Today mine is all about the weather drying out and my sinuses protesting the change. Looking back though I realize that just maybe “i’ve got a headache” has been my internal excuse for just veging out rather than getting to those projects that need to get done.

Just about my biggest “headache this past year has been attacks on my flock. If my recollection is correct my flock has been hit by no less than 3 dog attacks, 1 coyote attack, and one disease infection. This repeated building up and then having my flock decimated has taken it’s toll, while still maintaining that my chickens and ducks are livestock it is very disheartening to see their lives wasted.

To that end I have been working to build housing that is more secure for them at night and also more aesthetically pleasing (gotta keep Tuey happy now that we’re up on the hill).

coop

Sample Design

Tuey saw this coop in Fernley last year when picking up some Crested Cream Legbars and liked it so much she took a picture and sent it to me. Since last summer I haver been supposed to build a prototype, but that damn headache kept interfering.

Escape Hatch?

Escape Hatch? 

Last weekend I finally got started by building the floor and run.

The Floor

The Floor

Overgrown Nails?

Overgrown Nails?

The above pic shows what happens when you forget to flip off the repeater switch on your nail gun after sheathing your shed roof.

Today I started on the framing for the hen house.coop8 coop9 coop

Tomorrow I hope to get the sheathing on (I am not gonna turn that damn double tap back on!!) Then my Sweety, Karen, can start painting. Having a project going sure does push those pesky headaches into the background.

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Blahhhhhhhhhh………..

Well I think the title pretty much sums things up right now. (note: Blahhhhhhhhhh is pronounced properly with a full extension of the tongue ). Busy season has hit hard at work, the remodel is trying to absorb every spare minute , I am the secretary for our clubs Field Trial in February, and trying to find time to finally close out my Pop’s Trust has been just about to much. But on the bright side the Holidays were wonderful! All of my sons were here along with my sister Lorri’s annual pilgrimage (which I secretly look forward to every year) making things complete.

This weekend I was supposed to be working on plumbing at the Clayton Annex,

The new drain stack

The new drain stack

 

but I kinda played hooky and messed around at The Fruity Chicken instead. It was refreshing to start getting some of the things done that have been hanging over my head in the orchard. The first thing I noticed is that my Hen to Rooster ratio is way outta whack again! Just a rough count turned up 8 horny Cocks trying to mount anything that moved and half the hens hiding in the Hen House. Those poor girls are seriously underweight from stress and hiding out. I chased down four Roosters and headed up to the feed store (the Santa Ria Priest didn’t answer his phone) only to find out that they are closed on Sunday now (maybe they go to the same Church?).

Rooster behaving badly

Roosters behaving badly

 

 

Plan B: Lock them suckers up. All of the Roosters are in the area where I tried to grow winter wheat. That plan didn’t work out to well due to shade. Hopefully it will work to confine these horny bastards for a few days and give my hens a chance to recuperate. Who knows I might even start getting some eggs again. Two of the girls in my juvenile pen are laying now and all I can figure out is stress keeping the other girls from getting it in gear.

 

The Kool Krew meets The Ducky Ducks

The Kool Krew meets The Ducky Ducks

My baby ducks, The Ducky Ducks, got turned out into the main run last weekend. They immediately went and tried to make friends with The Kool Krew,

Poor Ducken

Poor Ducken

right off the bat the Buff Tufted drake in the Kool Krew grabbed the black tufted baby by the beak and held it’s head on the ground for about 30 seconds! Now the Ducky Ducks are allowed to follow along respectfully but not get to close. Poor little Ducken still aint sure what he is.

 

Planting Boxes

Planting Boxes

 

Last Year I lost several trees to wet feet. I hadn’t taken into consideration the slope of the ground and most of the trees at the bottom of that slope succumbed to root rot. To rectify this situation I am creating raised bed’s for the replacement trees, these are being suspended at roughly the same level as the last healthy row. The plan is to fill these suspended boxes with compost and soil then heavily mulch around them. Over time the surrounding area should form a gentle swale up to the level of the trees so that the boxes can be removed.

Compost

The Orchard in Winter

The compost pile is shrinking

The compost pile is shrinking

Overall it was nice to get back into the orchard/chicken ranch, it kinda gave me my focus back a bit. Those couple of hours inspired me to come home and start reading The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips, Lorri got me this book for Christmas. I can’t say that I would have bought this book for myself but that’s why everyone needs an intuitive sister. After the first hundred pages I am already searching for unpasteurized liquid fish and cold pressed pure Neem oil.

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When does then become now and vise-versa?

When your putting a little bit into a project on a regular basis you can lose track of progress. I lost a hen last night, not to anything scary or alarming, she fell into the duck pond and drowned simple as that. I’m not sure how she joined my little circus but I do know that she contributed in her own way and now there’s room for more. That’s what struck me when I found her this morning, six months ago losing a hen would piss me off! Thomas, the devious son, and I had a major rupture in our relationship over a chicken killing dog. That episode finally drove it into my thick head that animals are gonna behave like animals whether they are pets or livestock. We as their keepers have a responsibility to take care of them. The reality of that episode was that I wasn’t being a responsible chicken keeper by letting them free range on a 1/2 acre sub-urban lot, and Thomas wasn’t being fair to Michone (his Husky puppy) by just letting her run free on that same lot. We both blamed each other and felt as if the other had let us down but the truth was that we had both failed in our responsibilities to our animals. The hen I lost last night was an accident, nothing more, it was not a judgement on my skills and the realization that losing livestock to accidents is part of having livestock is something that I needed to learn.

The following pictures are from earlier this year when the trees were just going in and it was all one big space with chickens and ducks running everywhere. I thought I had everything all figured out and it was gonna run like clockwork.

 

 

Then came the itch of all of that nice ground between my fruit trees. From somewhere the idea for sunken beds came along, which eventually morphed into half-assed huglekulture beds. My head is filled even more now with ideas to squeeze even more outta my little 1/8 of an acre.

 

 

Things started greening up, more ideas formed and then surprises started showing up. Low and Behold maybe some of this stuff is gonna work! And most of all it feels good doing it, even on a miserable monsoony 114 degree August afternoon, I look forward to working in my orchard/chicken corral/garden.

 

 

I’ve come to realize that old ideas inspire new ideas and working through a problem really does require work. But the fruits of that labor, be it a fence that helps create harmony with your son, goofy nest boxes and separation that bring eggs to the table, or patience that helps develop a new friendship, is what life is really all about.

 

 

And then their are Black Copper Marans Roosters! Is anybody looking for one? or maybe 2 or 3?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remodel

In my ongoing battle against the evil egg-eaters infesting my flock I engaged in a remodeling project of the hen house today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the nest boxes have been relocated and raised, as shown above there are now boxes on both walls instead of just along the one. The two blue ones are new, I’m hoping that their deep dark interiors will be less inviting to Nosy Nora’s looking for a snack. One of my White Cochin’s were caught pecking at golf balls in one of the relocated nests, she is now in isolation over in the Juvenile Pen. Ironically “isolation” is filling up quickly, along with the three hens I have caught red-handed pecking eggs there are four hens that were hanging out in the hen-house looking just a little to guilty and three “hens” that are in fact roosters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This “fancy pullet” that Karen picked up from a feed store in Escondido was busy fighting with the criminals in lockup today, I’m not expecting “her” to start laying anytime soon. The pretty red hen on the right is very sweet but she ended up in lockup because she shows a bit to much interest in the nest boxes. For some reason my egg production in lockup has been very high, 5-6 a day, while in the hen-house I’m still lucky to get 1 and usually find 4-5 broken ones. That is what prompted me to change things around, I’m thinking that for some reason the new environment in lockup is breaking the egg breaking habit.

Karen has sucked Alexa into the baby nurturing obsession! Karen is already trying to subtly trying to inoculate me to the idea of her keeping that little baby African Grey, she thinks she’s being sly getting Lexi involved and oohing and awing over it’s white toes. Apparently that is some kind of significant genetic marker, it looks like alopecia to me. Her teeny tiny Quaker that she rescued is still hanging in there, it’s siblings are twice as large but Karen tells me that is due to the parents feeding them more frequently than she does.

Today was a good day, watching Karen share something she loves with our Granddaughter Alexa was a great start and even though it’s very muggy here a day working with my chooks is always a good day!

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Caught the Bastard……I think

My egg production had dropped precipitously, 3 weeks ago I was collecting a dozen a day then it dropped to only 1 or 2 eggs a day seemingly overnight. For a while I just ignored it thinking that it was the heat. Last weekend it penetrated my thick skull that there were eggshell pieces in the litter inside the coop, I got an Egg Eater!! What to do? 

I rounded up the usual suspects, these three are always malingering in the hen house just looking guilty so Wham! They went into the juvenile pen. What happened? Three eggs in the little pet carrier the quail hide in inside the juvenile pen but only 1 egg in the henhouse and no telltale shells in the litter.

So I targeted the shifty looking ones next. Brian, one of my trusted minions, was sent on a midnight raid to round them up. This group consisted of the remaining three easter eggers. Did this rectify the problem? NO!! All it did was add some green eggs to the daily hoard in the quail box! What to do? Run a sting operation, Thats What!

Yesterday while planting my new fruiting Mulberry Trees, I note “fruiting” here because fruitless Mulberry Trees have been outlawed in Las Vegas, I placed 2 chicken eggs from the quail box into one of the nest boxes in the henhouse. There was also one egg in a nest in the corner of the henhouse that I left alone due to the fact that there was one very angry duck sitting on it. I kept my eye on the bait box, kinda like a bait car for chickens, while doing my chores in the orchard but other than a couple of nosy Nora’s nothing happened. I collected the eggs from the nest box and left the angry duck to her sitting.

This morning I went back up to water my Mulberry Tree’s and Comfrey plants that I set out yesterday. Additionally I had potted up a couple of trimmings from the Mulberry’s and some Oldham Bamboo culms that I am hoping will root that need a drink. When I checked the henhouse the angry duck was gone as was her egg! I looked but couldn’t find any shells around nor did any of the nest boxes contain any eggs. In the juvenile pen were three eggs in the quail box, so i reset the trap just like yesterday. I had a big black sex-link hen that was hovering around watching me, so I made an unsuccessful attempt to catch her but then promptly forgot her. After starting the hose I went up to the house to fill the surge tank and got sucked into fixing the dryer for my sons fiancé.

That took about a half hour and when I got back down to the orchard what do I see? A big black feathered butt stickin out of the baited nest box! Hurrying into the henhouse I grabbed the hen and sure enough it was the same black sex-link, and in the nest box was a freshly pecked open egg.

Now I have a confirmed egg-eater on lockdown in the juvenile pen. Only time will tell if this problem has spread to the other girls in my flock but for now I’m hopeful that the main culprit has been uncovered. If my egg production in the henhouse goes back up this week I plan on releasing the earlier suspects one at a time back into the general population. Those girls ain’t off the hook yet though, they’re gonna have to prove their innocence before a full reprieve from the Santa Ria priest is given! As to the fate of the one I caught red-handed, or should I say yellow-beaked, maybe my minion and I will try our hand at butchering our first chicken. One things for sure she is not going back into my chicken yard!

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