I’ve gotta get me a camera, because I’m kind of proud of this.

The ladies spent their last night inside the old enclosure, which is now completely gone. First thing this morning I spread straw in the new chicken yard and moved them over there one at a time. And right away I learned something new about chicken behavior – as soon as they’d settled down, they started almost obsessively scratching in the straw. They scratched a little in the old yard, but it was very small and almost bare dirt. Now they’re all three scratching as if it’s their mission in life. They’re not finding any bugs, but the lack doesn’t seem to deter them. I’ve got a sack of chicken “scratch,” which is basically birdseed and cracked corn and which they never showed much interest in before. If I spread some of that in the straw, I wonder if they’ll start eating it.

Anyway, Neighbor J came over around nine and helped me move their little coop into the new yard. The two smallest hens promptly ran into it and upstairs, where I guess they’re used to feeling safe, but they didn’t stay long. It’s remarkable: They’ve been in there about six hours as of this writing, and seem much calmer but also more active. I was in the yard with them for most of that time, which usually kinda freaks them out, but they accepted my presence in the bigger space pretty calmly.

I spent that time building their roof, to keep them in and the raptors out. First I built a big vertical wooden frame, anchored on two 4X4 timbers salvaged from pallets. Then I ran baling twine back and forth between the frame and the periphery, all the way around, so the whole thing started to look like a circus tent. Across the middle I’ve got a big tarp, both for shade and because I couldn’t get very good coverage with the twine across the middle. As soon as I can get some I’ll replace that with landscape fabric. I’m not saying the baling twine is the best solution, it’s not. But I have a lot of it and not nearly enough chicken wire, and it should work.

Just in time, too. It’s been cloudy pretty much all day, right on schedule, and winter is supposed to return tonight and stay at least a couple of days. Snow and cold, cold and snow. So as soon as I finish typing this and eating a late lunch, I’ll go back out and clean up the yard and then get the woodstove ready for business. By this part of the winter I’ve always become so acclimated that, if the indoor temperature is anywhere in the fifties, there’s just no point in burning fuel to make it warmer. Fifty seems quite comfortable during the day.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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One Response to Finished!

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    That sounds just grand, Joel. As for the “scratch feed,” they should eat some of it. Some will actually attract bugs, I think, which will tickle them pink. In any case, it will contribute to the compost, so it’s a win/win all around. Just don’t toss out much at a time.

    I quit buying “scratch” feed when it became almost all milo. I never had a chicken – or any animal that would eat milo under any circumstances (though I never actually tried to starve them into eating it). The goats wouldn’t eat it, and they’ll eat anything. I tried feeding the mature grain heads to them when the milo came up in the garden after spreading compost, since some of the milo didn’t “compost.” The critters would eat the leaves and even the young stalks, but I can’t remember any animal that actually wanted the milo seeds themselves. If goats won’t eat it… oh well.

    If you can get it, bags of mill sweepings should be cheaper than “scratch” and contain all sorts of good things for the chickens. That’s what I wound up buying, but it’s been a long, long time.

To the stake with the heretic!