Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Coop, The Veggies, and The Great Escape

I can hardly believe my eyes! The corner of the barn where the chicken coop is, has finally been enclosed. Whew! I need to put some finishing touches on the coop, such as: install windows, repair some stone work, change the nesting boxes, add some flooring to the upstairs of the barn, which is actually the ceiling of the coop, (the coop is in the basement of the barn), and then clean up my big mess. I think one more Saturday and the little poopers will be ready for their new home. They are already stretching the limits of the brooder I have them in. It is almost 20 square feet, but it is shrinking by the minute. The coop is 20 feet by 14 feet, so that will feel like a football stadium to them!


Here is the new exterior door which leads into a small "hallway" and the coop is on the left as you go through this door. Ruth helped me install this by marking hinge holes and shimming the bottom using a crow bar. Go Ruth! What appears to be a window in the upper right corner actually is a window on the far side of the barn, 60 feet away. There is a new wall there now.

The pile of dirt and debris on which I am sitting, will be carted away and a nice pea gravel sitting area will take its place. Don't you just love that old can in the foreground? Somebody was throwing it out.


Last summer I planted some zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins. Everything actually did OK. We had lots of tomatoes, both red and also green ones for frying in olive oil. The pumpkins did very well. I think I harvested almost thirty nice sized pumpkins and even froze some for baking. This year I am trying green beans, lettuce, carrots as well as the same stuff from last year. The exception is that I am growing some Cinderella Pumpkins. These are amazing looking! if they grow, I may have a little stand and sell them. I want carrots, so the little kids who come to the farm can go out to the garden and pull some up! (Hopefully not all!)

The Great Escape

Friday afternoon the weather was perfect for taking some chicks out for a little romp in the grass. That was the plan anyway. The white crested one in my hand looked around for a minute and then took off at a full sprint for the woods next to our yard. Ruth was trying to snap some pictures, and then grabbed the two that hadn't run off yet. I came out of the barn and went off to the woods in search for the little Steve McQueenette! She played dodge around a tree and then ran into a thicket. Just then, Bishop the Barn Cat showed up and I was sure she would be able to capture the runaway, so I reached through the blackberry thorns and nabbed her.

No more playing in the grass!

I found a roll of chicken wire and was able to make a little playground but they spent their thirty minutes of freedom huddled together and looking worried.

Here is a photo of one of our Cuckoo Maran roosters. I will have to make a decision one of these days about this fella. I may keep two roosters. I believe I have a Golden Campine rooster!

Here is a picture showing the real blast the chicks didn't have "behind bars".

I ordered a poultry electric mesh which will be installed so the chickens can romp around without fear of dogs, coyotes, etc. I still have to figure out what I will do for the hawks.


freefalling said...

I saw a make-shift chick protector on tv recently.
It was made with a hula hoop,
and an upside down cone of wire.
It was easily moved around the garden and the hula hoop could be tent pegged in, if necessary.
Just big enough for little chicks and the hawks can't get them.

Our vegie patch is currently under construction. The paths are being laid and some nice poo sourced.
I look forward to seeing how your
vegies come along.

Don said...

Freefalling: I have a shoop shoop hula hoop out in the garage! Maybe I'll give that a try.

I will try to get a garden organized in the next three weeks. It won't be as nice as yours sounds!

Anonymous said...

You are now the father of a big family, which is growing very fast.
Those chicken are so photogenic, i am sure, Ruth has taken tens of photos about them :)
We can not yet even think our garden, the ground is still frozen solid and it was -8 degrees Celsius ( 17,8 F )last night, our garden work starts after one month.
Enjoyable working with chicks and garden and happy spring time to you!

Stiggy said...

WOW Don, you've been busy!

The barn is looking good now too.

Nice to see your vegetables growing - looking good there too!

I think it's funny that you called your run away chicken a 'Steve Mcqueenetee - sort of like OUR chicken Queenie - who also escaped and forced me into a load of brambles to catch her too! It made me smile today.


Don said...

leena: I am looking forward to seeing your garden and what you choose to grow. I hope to expand an English Cottage Garden as well as grow some Farmer MacGregor veggies.

Stiggy: Thanks for stopping by. It is satisfying to see something actually start to take shape. I have been thinking about doing this for a while and getting chicks forced my hand. Runaway chicks are FAST! I didn't tell the story of the one that got out of the playground and ran into a hole in one of our building's foundations. That was a real fun job pulling her out of that!

Don said...

Leena: I forgot to mention that Ruth is having a lot of fun taking pictures of the all the chicks and their adventures. I have a chick I want to post about because I have no clue as to whata it is! Ruth, get to work on that photo!

laura said...

Hi Don--what a great post; so much to read about! The barn is looking great, as your seedlings. I have a small patch where I grow tomatoes (tried string beans one year; the the vines were full of praying mantises, which deterred me from harvesting: I'm bug phobic); this year I'm trying some heirloom varieties. The chicks continue to bring a very big smile to my face: they're therapeutic!

Don said...

Laura: Praying mantises are a bit freaky! I feel as if they are looking at me! I get the huge tomato hornworms on my tomatoes. I wonder if chickens like those? I guess I will find out. The chicks are therapeutic, I go out to the barn and sit and watach them. Sometimmes I give them a worm and watch them run around and play tug of war.

Ruth said...

I can laugh now at that Steve McQueenette adventure, but at the time I was scaaaared. I froze. But the image of your head going this way and that around the tree while the chick dodged you is priceless. I'm just glad it had a happy ending.

All right, just show me which chick you're talking about and I'll shoot her. You might have to bribe me since you know I don't really like taking photos all that much.

Sharon said...

Amazing chick pictures Ruth... Love them!!!

Sandy said...

I always enjoy your updates and the photos...This was fun to read!


Don said...

sharon: Ruth is having fun with her cameras!

Sandy: It's probably getting boring to read about the same old things! Thanks for stopping by.

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Awww, sorry to hear that the field trip didn't go as planned. Some of the breeds you have aren't very "people oriented", but I'm really surprised that one took off like that. It's unusual for them to leave the flock and run off on their own. Must be one very independent chick!

They grow in huge leaps and bounds, don't they? My girls have their wing feathers and are currently sprouting tail feather. The boys are a bit slower and are still working on wing feathers. It makes it easy to tell them apart! I think only the heavy breed do this, so don't try it with them all. My little Silver-Spangled Hamburg is maturing more quickly than all of them! It's amazing, and so much fun!

If I didn't half to work, I'd spend most of my spare time watching "Chick TV". Enjoy them while they're little, even if they are a bit independent!

freefalling said...

I got my new gardening magazine today and there was a feature on chickens!
I wanted to tell you about 2 websites they featured:

Did you know you could rent chooks?!!

Farm Chick Paula said...

Hahahaha- I would have loved to see the "great escape", Don- too bad Ruth didn't have a video camera handy!
We're trying a pumpkin this year from Baker Creek Seed Co. called a Connecticut Field... have you ever heard of it? (It looks just like the "Great Pumpkin" Linus is always looking for! LOL)

Don said...

Amy: Yes, it is amazing how fast they grow! The center of the brooder is like the sparring ring. If a chick goes out there several of them rush over and they all start bumping chests. One of the smallest ones knocked the biggest one right over onto its back! That was pretty funny. I think they are getting ready for the big coop.

Paula: It was quite the fiasco! Those Conn. Pumpkins look like perfect pumpkins! The ones I raised las year were decent, but not that big. Let's compare our pumpkins in the fall to see if we like what we did!

I can hardly pull myself away from watching them. They're better than TV.

Freefalling: Thanks for the web sites! I went and looked at them. What a good idea. Maybe I will do something like that for people who are interested, but don't want to make a long-term commitment.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hey Don this is a very amusing post... loved the runaways ... I can just see the action!!

and you really made me aware of another possibility of danger for the chickens... the hawk.. yes we have hawks too... and they reg. do fly-bys of the bird feeder... so many things to look out for... but don't we all love a challenge!!??!!

I am just in love with those little chicks with the poofy hats!

Your chicks are going to be living in style!!!

idak said...

cutie duckling

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, love your down to earth blog, my wife would kill for that throw away can we have all kinds of throw aways like that, filled with flowers, Love your Steve McQueenette tale, too funny, the coop is looking great!

Don said...

Gwen: The hawks will be an interesting challenge. We'll see what happens. I am going to have various things in the :chicken yard" that will give them some cover and hopefully it will deter the raptors!

Ruth was a little frazzled by the runaway and it was ridiculous when it kept running around the apple tree. It knew how to play Keepaway!

Idak: They are cuties!\

Bob: Thanks for the visit! The coop is shaping up. I think by Sunday they will be zipping around in a vast cavern. Hopefully they will be able to find the heat, food and water. I'll be in there a lot with them to help them find their way.

I was at a farm auction last spring and bought at least 10 old gas and oil cans for a dollar. They're pretty cool! maybe they cna hold flowers!

lesleyanne said...

i love that can! something else for great storage, or a potential lamp? when i come in may we should make those old kerosene cans into lamps, that would be fun.

the barn looks awesome!!! i can't wait to see it. congrats! job well done, the both of you!

aww, the babies are growing up so fast. they will be so big when i finally meet them! mmm, the smell of chickens. i'm sure it's engrained in my skull, back from when i was 8 years old.


Don said...

lesleyanne: The chick aroma is the first thing Peter commented on: "Hey this smells like crickets and Milford!"

I agree that those old cans will make great lamps or something.

Ginnie said...

There is absolutely NOTHING boring about any of this, Don. I have a big smile on my face, reading every little thing about what you're doing on the farm. It feels like a paradise for you. I can hardly wait to see it all with my own eyes. :)

Don said...

Ginnie: It is a paradise in many ways. It was nice to have Peter's Band along with Paul's whole family here over the weekend!

Carole said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. I am presently relocating my flock of chickens to more acreage so I have big plans for a major expansion of the flock. I plan on carrying a variety of breeds and I am eagerly looking forward to the adventure.

Great pictures and stories. Thanks for sharing.