Category: Homesteading

New Hatchling Countdown

One of our chickens, Astra, has become broody. We had been getting her out of the nest once a day to eat/drink/defecate and collecting the eggs. But it’s getting on in the year, and we wanted to raise more broilers. We decided to take this opportunity to hatch some new chickens — not all 100% American Bresse, but still chickens. It seems like the chickens have a really cool agreement that she’s in charge of incubating eggs. She sits on the nest all day, but seemingly gets up and allows other chickens to lay eggs that she’ll keep safe.

Anya counted 12 eggs under Astra — 2 from Sunshine (Buff Orpington), 4 from Queenington (Green Queen), and 6 from the Bresse. She’s got each egg marked so we can collect any newly laid eggs … and we should have new chicks in about 21 days — around August 3rd. We’re bringing her food and water a few times a day, so (hopefully) she’ll stay healthy over the next couple of weeks.

County Building Department

It strikes me, every time I talk to someone from the auditor’s office or the building department, that county officials must talk to a lot of people after-the-fact … like they built a shed, someone noticed it, and now they’re going through the permitting process for that shed. Because they always seem surprised that I’m in the planning stages of a project and am ringing them up to make sure I’m doing all the right things in the right order.

My note-to-self for the day — while the Medina County Building Department does permit fences over 6′, they do not require anything for agricultural buildings and fences. If you’ve got an agricultural exemption from the Township for a building, they’ll happily agree that the fence around / next to that building is for agricultural use as well. (For non-agricultural fences, you fill out the residential building form and specify the perimeter of the fence for the sq ft area and not the square footage enclosed by the fence).

Thus, I’ve concluded that the steps to build a bigger chicken coop and a pasture are:

  1. Submit the agricultural exemption form to the township
  2. Once it is approved, e-mail a copy to the Medina County Building Department for their records (so when someone rings them up about some construction that doesn’t look like it should be there, the don’t have to waste a day driving out to look at a chicken coop)
  3. Build it

Our coop and greenhouse shouldn’t need a permit from the county because the size is under 200 sq ft.

Fence Options

We’re planning out a pasture for the chickens and turkeys — mostly back in the woods so they’ve got plenty of cover, lots of tree detritus to scratch at, and shade on these hot summer days. There are plenty of options for fencing — and a big jump in prices between 5′ and 6′ high fences. We’re thinking about overlapping two rolls of fence to create a cheaper version of 6+ foot high fencing — it’s $120 for two 3′ rolls v/s $160 for a single 6′ roll. Even a 3′ and a 4′ roll, creating a higher fence with maybe 6″ of overlap, is $140. Securing the two pieces along the entire fence line will be increased effort, but rolling out 6′ of fencing seems like it might be a lot of effort compared to rolling out a 4′ and a 3′ roll.

Trail Expansion

We’ve created a beautiful wood-chip covered trail in our woods — this has transformed the mucky maple harvest path into a usable trail and made collecting sap a lot quicker/easier (and less muddy!). This year, we’re working on extending the trail along the east side of our property. This will provide easier access to the maples in the back woods as well as the apiary. So far, I’ve cleared a bunch of honey suckle, multi-flora rose, wild raspberries, and general forest undergrowth. There’s a path angled off of the original path, a right hand turn, and a winding path along the eastern side of our property. Once we get it cleared, we collected a huge pile of wood chips from the Metro Parks this year that we’ll use to cover the trail.

(Mostly) Fits In a Volt

Harbor Freight had one of their 20% off coupon sales for Fathers Day. We’ve been wanting to buy the 10×12 greenhouse for a while, and 20% off was the perfect opportunity to do so. There’s a site where someone details all of the tweaks they used to enhance the structure — we’ll be making a lot of these enhancements as we build the thing.

One of these days, we’ll have an electric farm truck running … but, until then, a 10×12 greenhouse in its box #FitsInAVolt … at least sufficiently to transport it a short distance home!

Poultry Brooding Options

We’re working on building up an outdoor brooding area to hatch and raise chickens and turkeys. The current coop — which seemed so large when we got our first five hens — is too small for raising more birds.

Option #1 is to get a larger coop — we’re looking at a metal shed — that will give us space to frame out two rectangles, cover them with hardware cloth, and have both a nursery with the chicken toaster and a brooder for slightly order birds who are still getting acclimated to the flock. To save floor space, I would make PVC tube feeders and waterers. The brooder could be brought outside into the pasture to serve as a baby bird tractor, too.

Option #2 is to build out a nursery and brooder on the side of the existing coop. This could even be insulated to ensure the baby guys are extra toasty. This probably would have a hinged roof so we could access the baby guys from outside of the coop.

Turkeys in the Coop

We have turkeys in the coop! Anya put the little guys in the coop by themselves, and then she brought our friendliest hens in (one at a time) and hung out in the coop as a referee. Then she brought the Bresse hens in without problem. And finally our least friendly older hens and then each of the roosters. Everyone was fine. And, when I opened the coop this morning, the little turkey guys were out on the floor with the chickens — eating their food and ready for a refill on their water.