We got our fence stuff! Eight rolls of 4′ welded wire fence and 50 t-posts.
We set up the coop mobile again — I got one of the PoultryNet fences from PremierOne — I spent a lot of time debating the “Plus” version of the fence before realizing that you could buy a whole lot of the FiberTuff posts for less than the additional price for the plus fence. And the FiberTuff posts work a lot better. Since the fence was working well, we decided to move the coop over to the pasture (and not herd the poultry across the yard twice a day!!!).
The “wheels” were made using two 4×4’s with sections of 5/8″ threaded rod that were inserted into old propane tube. This was attached to the 4×4 & wheels from one of our yard carts were attached. We were then able to push the coop across the yard.
Well … we had one day of Astra fostering the new broilers. They’re older baby guys (which is why they were super cheap) … and I think they got used to doing their own thing. And didn’t want to get back into the nesting box when she told them to. The OG baby guy totally comes when called, but these guys? Not so much. And Astra freaked out. Anya saved one of the Cornish babies while Scott and I were working on some trees — she got Astra out of the coop and tended to the little guy’s wounded head. It was bad — scalped. She tried putting Astra in the tractor with the other birds, but Astra was pretty set on getting back to baby guy. And freaked out the turkeys, who attacked her. So now Astra has the feathers pulled from the back of her head just like the Cornish she attacked.
Anya got Astra into the baby tractor, got the turkeys calmed down, and introduced the Cornish to the ducks (who, thankfully, didn’t go after the wound). Baby guy made its way out of the coop and over to Astra in the baby tractor. So they were happy, pecking around at food and grit. The Cornish were safe in the coop. And everyone else was in the big tractor. That was sorted enough that we could finish splitting the wood and getting it stacked.
Near sunset, we had to get all of the Cornish into the brooder so Astra and baby guy could go into the coop. We put a board in front of their nesting box to keep the turkeys from going after her wounded head.
The thirteen eggs Astra incubated yielded one chick — a really cute one, and the first one born on our farm. But not the gaggle of broilers we were anticipating. So we decided to buy some more hatchlings for her to raise. The Tractor Supply had Rangers last week, but we didn’t manage to make it out there in time. So I called around to all of the TSC’s in the area trying to find some. No luck, but the next TSC to the south had a lot of birds they were trying to get rid of. Cornish x Rock’s at two for a buck. That’s a great deal, so we headed down. They also had pekin ducks for the same price … and we picked up two to try out raising ducks. I love those little bills!
Well, introducing the ducks to Astra didn’t go so well — they’re pretty active, and they either didn’t want to listen to her or didn’t understand chicken talk … but they wouldn’t go back into the nest when she called them. And now we’ve got ducks in the brooder and a bunch of chicks snuggling up with Astra.
What a week! The Rhode Island being snatched up by a dog kicked off a week of losses here — one of our egg layers, Tilly, died on Monday. She was one of our smaller, cuddlier chickens. One of our hives has no bees. And today another egg layer, Soaring Eagle, disappeared. Hopefully she’s out in the woods somewhere and will be by the coop in the morning. Or she made a nest out in the woods. She’s a Jersey Giant, but our smallest chicken. Instead of growing, she put her energy into being a magic chicken. And she was out very cuddliest chicken. Fingers crossed for her …
Yesterday, one of our Rhode Island Red’s got taken by a dog. I was walking the chickens from their coop into their tractor. Like normal, most of them cannot find the door and walk a loop around the tractor looking for a way in. I get the food sprinkled around the grass and fill up the water bowls while they work out how exactly to get themselves into the thing. I saw a light brown animal out of the corner of my eye behind our large oak tree. My instant thought was “bugger, a baby deer … we’re about to get run over by an upset mommy deer!” — and then this dog streaked over. It didn’t hesitate even when I yelled, it nabbed a chicken, and then it took off into our woods. Now I’ll have to wake Anya up so we have two people herding chickens into the tractor!
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.
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.