October saw our big move to our very own Farm! In the past we had leased land, and this year we were lucky enough to find a property that looked perfect for our projects. We have been madly moving, unpacking, building, fixing and freezing. This weather is not something we are used to! That’s ok, I like to live by the saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.”
One of our biggest additions with the move was to import our new Livestock Protection Dog from the States. Ozzy is a young (big!) guy who is learning all about life protecting chickens, not running off the farm, and not knocking over our kids! He’ll get it. Oh, and not lying in my new garden beds, as seen in this photo.
When we picked up our chickens we immediately started a routine where every member of our family had a separate jacket and boots set for the Farm, and one for the backyard. This is what our front door looks like now! We also strip right in the front hallway, but I won’t show you that part of things… It is important with chickens to quarantine new arrivals for 30 days to make sure they aren’t carrying anything that could spread to your existing flock. With our chickens being in separate locations, we decided to keep everything as separate, clean and organized as possible. The new chickens were young, and there was always a chance that our adult chickens at home could have been carrying something that would have been difficult for the younger birds to fight off.
We also do a mite and lice check on all of our birds. Mites and lice will irritate the birds, and can spread through the flock. They are more of a nuisance than anything. When our birds return from their rental they will also get a nice spa treatment (bath) before they rejoin the flock for the Winter. Many people get a bit worried when they start looking online for all of the things that can go wrong with chickens. The important thing to remember is that most of the things that can go wrong with a chicken usually don’t, and the ones that do don’t all happen at the same time. I keep a close eye on all of the chickens, and maintain an awareness of the possibilities so that if anything occurs I can treat it as it comes up.
Is it February already? I know I fell in love with Joe (my saw), and then there was Christmas, New Years, my Birthday…and oh my. Yes, it is February. Everything has been going well, except the weather! The weather has been a real downer. You really notice the rain when you are working outside every night without a shop! I have done the best I can, but sadly I have rusted out an entire set of drill bits, wasted a lot of paint, and completely demolished our lawn. Our poor lawn. I hope we can recover it in the Spring before the dry days of summer come. I’m sure the chickens will be happy to help aerate it, and we will just try to cover patches and reseed as we go. We originally made a chicken tractor to keep the chickens in a particular part of the yard so they can do their scratching, bug clean-up and garden maintenance. However, we loved watching the chickens at their antics so much, and they proved to be no nuisance at all, that we changed the purpose of the tractor to be a place that the chickens could NOT access. This is helpful if we have seedlings in the ground, or when we need to reseed a certain area of the lawn that is getting worn away (like in front of the trampoline from the kids!).
Our young chickens arrived for New Years and are happily eating, growing and being chickens out at the Farm. I let them out to free range and flap around every day. They are getting faster and starting to look more like chickens and less like awkward little birds. They are loving their new coops and we are excited to get to test the coops out. I designed these coops myself, from taking a bit of other coop designs I liked, and making something that worked for us. I wanted maximum run space, portable, maximum shelter, easy feeding/watering, easy access for throwing in kitchen scraps and treats, predator proof, and a simple way to clean out the coop. Oh, and let’s not forget about accessing the EGGS! The standard two chicken coop has one nesting box and door, and the deluxe has a nesting box and door on either end. Here is a picture of Coby putting food in one of the feeders. It’s a tube that opens on the outside with screw top, and has a pressure fill system at the bottom.