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.
One of our Bresse hens went for a walkabout last night. We were going shopping, so had to get them cooped up earlier than normal. Normally, it’s sunset when we’re taking them to the coop. And we don’t put more food into the tractor in the evening, so the chickens are ready to head in for a meal. When we’re leaving early, I like to carry the chickens and deliver them into the coop. And have someone opening/closing the door to avoid escapees. Anya evidently just opened the tractor and let them run. Some ran into the coop. Some ran to the compost. And one? She ran for the woods.
She was roosting in a tree last night, but Scott and Anya weren’t able to coax her down. Then she was nowhere to be found this morning. Luckily it was a light misty rain all day and not the rain showers I was expecting. We put the dozen remaining chickens into the tractor and left them do chicken things. By late afternoon, our missing girl was hanging out by the tractor. Anya picked her up and gave her some snuggles, then popped her into the tractor for some food and water. Her adventure seems to have tired her out — she was quiet and snuggly.
We also tried putting the poults in with the chickens today. We’d had them in the baby poultry tractor next to the big chicken tractor for a week so they’d get used to seeing each other. Well — that didn’t work out so well. Introducing the Bresse to the egg layers went pretty well — the egg layers were selected for their chill personalities. The Bresse rooster, however, went after the first poult Anya put into the tractor. So they’re back in the baby tractor for some more introduction time. We’ll have to do some supervised interaction on a nice, warm, sunny day.
The past few days was the first big snow storm out chickens have seen. They didn’t like walking in the snow so much. Anya made a snow maze for the chickens. The funny thing I’ve noticed about chickens — and remember, these are birds that can fly (well, for short distances) — is that they get stymied by two foot walls. The whole flock will be standing on the other side of our courtyard wall, chattering and cocking their heads at the wall trying to figure it out. Well, 18″ of snow works the same way — one chicken “cheated” at the maze and just flew into a different section, but they generally hit a head end and meandered around until someone accidentally worked their way back into the main part of the maze.
And she added a prize at the end of the maze
I wanted to grow a little treat for our chickens to eat as winter sets in and green leafy things become scarce. I took about half a cup of wheat, a quarter cup of barley, and a quarter cup of oats and mixed the seeds together. I covered the seeds with water and soaked them for about 20 hours. I then spread the seeds in a 8″x8″ aluminium tray that has holes poked into the bottom. This sits into its plastic lid to keep from dripping water everywhere. Twice a day, I run water into the tray and let it drip out. No soil used — the roots and seeds form a fairly solid mass as the seeds sprout. One week later, I have lots of bright green shoots. Hopefully they think it’s a tasty treat!
We put together a chicken tractor to give our chicks to keep them where they’re supposed to be. We’ll put a tarp over one half of the tractor so they’ll have somewhere to hide when the eagle come about (and a place to hide from the rain). And it’s got a low-motion swing!
We used a 1×4 for the swing and mounted the rope to both the top and bottom of the tractor. This approach leaves the swing move a few inches each way, but it doesn’t swing when they hop on and off. They seem to like it — I’ve seen each chicken hanging out on the swing today.
Scott started putting together a mobile chicken tractor. The metal tube is repurposed from one of those canvas covered pavilion things that came with the house. Massive wind storm, years ago, took it out. It’s been a hop arbor and now a chicken tractor. Since it articulates a little bit, it fits the contours of the ground. We still need to mount some fencing … well, sand it down a bit and repaint it too! But it’s a large, portable space for the chickens to roam when we’re not hanging out in the yard keeping an eye on them.
Scott built axles and wheels to move the chicken coop across the yard. We jacked a side up, slid the axle underneath, and lowered the coop. Repeated the process on the other side and, voila, a mobile coop. We pushed it because we needed to adjust the angle of the axles to make a few turns. But it moved surprisingly well.
Success! We removed the plywood around the playhouse base and tried pulling the playhouse down. Nothing. It’s an odd combination of flimsy and sturdy, but sturdy won out. Scott wrapped a chain around the front 4×4’s and cut through them. For safety, he tacked in two non-cut 4x4s to act as braces while he cut the structure. Pulled again and nothing — those two braces held the entire building.
Then the took other dimensional lumbar and threw it like a javelin at the two braces. A single brace still held the whole building, but after the second brace was removed … we finally have success. It came down in one piece — there are a few dings and the front porch was damaged. But we’ve got a little building at ground level. Now to flip it, clean it up, and get the chickens moved in.