Sunday, May 04, 2014

Updates on the coop

Update:
Yesterday, I'd blogged about adding some more shade to the chicken yard.  So I made sure I went out to see how things looked this morning.


With the additions I made, there is a lot more shade available to them.  They should be able to use the new shaded area's until about noon.  At that point, they'll have to go back to under the coop.


New:
When we built the coop, ventilation was a real big deal to me.  We built a wooden coop, but it has a corrugated steel roof and I've been concerned about the heat inside the coop.  I realize during the day, they aren't in there much, but depending on how much it heats up, it might take a while to cool off at night.

So, while at the store today, I decided to get one of the wireless transmitted temperature gauges.  I have the other end sitting on the back porch.  This will allow me to see the temperature differences between outside and inside the coop.


Today, it got to 94 here in Northeaster Oklahoma.  Right now at 6:00, it's 93 degrees on the back porch, and it's 95 in the coop.

And one parting thought for today.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Chicken Fight and Runny Poop

After running to the Farmers Market this morning for some locally grown greenhouse tomatoes and locally raised bacon, I came home and grabbed 4 eggs out of the coop!

While I was doing that, we ended up having a cage match with at least 2 of the chickens.  Both ended up bloody with a little blood on them.  One had some blood around her beak and the other had some on her breast.  Afterward though, everything was fine.  I guess they were working on the pecking order over something.

But afterward, one of them acted a little strange, so I sat down and watched them all for a while.  Except for the fact she was walking the fence back and forth looking for a way out, she seemed fine.

I then noticed that one of the birds had some runny poo.  I didn't however see which bird did it.  So, I watched even more.

I opened the coop and took a look in there, and noticed under the roost, there was one place that had runny poop.  So, I took a closer look at it looking for anything abnormal (other than it being runny that is).

So, being a computer guy, I did what I always do in situations like this.  I did some analysis, and then came inside and did some research.  That's when I found a forum post with lots of pictures of chicken poop to look and compare.  After looking at the pictures, it was ceacal.  And that most things I read from a myriad of sites pretty much said it wasn't anything to be too worried about.  So I went back out and watch them to make sure everyone was really fine.

After watching another 30 minutes or so, everyone seemed fine.  No one was really acting strange so sickly.  I did however, decide to do some stuff outside so I could keep an eye on everyone.

I took a look at the chicken yard, and decided it could use some cleaning, so I went and got my garden rake and my flat shovel.  I also noticed that they've eaten almost all the grass in there.  Since we still had netting left over from covering the chicken yard, I decided to throw together an extended chicken run.  However, none of the girls really wanted to leave the shaded area under the coop.  So I grabbed an old broken patio umbrella, and set it up in the extended run.  They still weren't going for it.  They almost looked afraid of it.  Oh well, maybe they'll eventually go out there.  In the meantime, I cleaned up the yard.

Next up was to work on some shade for the girls  The next 3 days, the temperatures are supposed to be in the lower 90's!  Ugh, I'm not ready for that.  A couple weeks ago, we knew we needed some shade so we took an old roll up shade we had which had broken, and tied it to the netting above the chicken yard in front of the coop.  It sorta reminded me of a front porch.  Then we had some really strong winds, and well, this happened.



After that, the only shade currently in our chicken yard is the shade under the coop.  And during the late morning that's not much.

I'd considered putting the patio umbrella in there, but with they way they were acting toward it, I decided not to.
My wife suggested I cut it up and attach it to the top to give them other shaded spots during the day.  So I did that, then I took it one step further.




I attached one small section to the top of the yard (over the netting)  The other I placed on the east side.  As the sun comes up, it should give a good shaded spot for a good portion of the morning, especially with the small piece on top.

Guess we'll see how it really goes tomorrow.

I got to thinking though that some of the strange behavior of the one chicken that was pacing the fence might have been to get to more of the shaded are she could see.  I could be wrong, but it's a start.

After doing all that, I still wanted to be around the birds just to make sure everything is good, so I worked on tearing down some pallets my wife brought home for free.  If I ever get them done, I'm looking to build a fence around my garden with them.

By this point in the day, I was exhausted.  I cleaned up, and then we locked up our dog and let the chickens free range for the last 2-3 hours of daylight.



Once they were all in bed, it was time to come inside and cook up some of that bacon for some BLT's!  I should have baked a loaf of bread to go with the fresh lettuce, tomatoes and bacon.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Strawberries!

Thursday, when I got home from work, I went out to check on the girls and check for eggs.  Then I walked through all my raised beds checking for weeds.  It really is amazing how much time you can save yourself by pulling a few weeds every day or two instead of waiting a long time before doing it!

As I was making the rounds, I stopped and really looked at my strawberries.  There are so many blooms and lots of green berries forming!

I love strawberries.  But I'm not a fan of those huge berries you get at the store.  I like the small berries, though that may be because that's what I always had growing up.

I'm hoping come next year, the bed I have will be full of berries!

Grow berries, grow!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eggs!

We've had our girls for 15 days.  So far, so good.  We've not had any problems to speak of yet (not that I would expect in just 15 days, but you never know).  The only predator problem we've had was that first day when I was working on the gate to the chicken yard, and our Boston Terrier got into the yard.  Luckily, the girls can run fast, and I was able to catch him fast!

One of the main reasons we wanted to get chickens were for their eggs.  I mean, who doesn't want a fresher, tastier, healthier egg?

The first day we brought our girls home, we had an egg!


And we had fresh eggs every day since!  We've had between 1 and 5 eggs every day.  It wasn't long before we had a bowl full of eggs!


Last Wednesday, I started a log to keep track of our egg production.  Since that time, we've had 25 eggs in 8 days.  So, we've averaged a little over 3 eggs a day!  One of those was a double yoked egg!

We've switched to storing them in an egg carton, and I we make sure we rotate our stock eating the oldest eggs first.  It's really working out pretty well.

We've really enjoyed the chickens.  Now, if they'll just grow back their feathers, I could take so much better pictures of them!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Garden updates

The garden is doing well.

First, I planted a couple of blackberry bushes over the weekend.  I'm hoping they take well.  I love blackberries!  (sorry, no pictures)

We've started letting our chickens free range in the evenings (while the dog is put away) and I've been keeping a close eye on them around the garden.

Here one of the girls is looking for bugs around the onions, spinach and jalapenos.



Here are a few of my tomato plants along with my strawberries which are doing great!  I even have some green berries on the plants.  I'm keeping an eye on them!



Here is the full garden area.


I've been harvesting some of my spinach from the garden here and there.  I have some lettuce in a wheelbarrow but it's been slow to grow this year, even before I moved it to the wheelbarrow.

I've also made it out to the Owasso Farmers Market the last two weeks.  We got some asparagus the first week and last week I got some farm fresh breakfast sausage and some lettuce.

This coming weekend, they are supposed to have some locally grown green house tomatoes!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

5 birds roosting, An adventure in roosting.

As I've already mentioned, we got 10 birds and split them with a friend.  They came over and we randomly chose 5 birds of the 10 and loaded them up and sent them on their way.

We were happy owners of 5 chickens!
The first night, I had to put the hens in the coop.  I'm guessing where they came from, they didn't have a coop.  Anyway, I got them inside and close the coop door.  They were now safe and sound, and I went back into the house to give them a bit to get settled in before I went back out and checked on them.

I went back out about 10 or 15 minutes later, and peeked in on them, and no one was on the roosts I made them!  So, I opened the door and placed them all on the roosts, and they had a good night.

The next night, they all went into the house without a problem, and 3 of the 5 were on the roost.  I picked up the 2 and placed them on the roost.

Well, the next day (2 days after our friends took 5 hens) they brought them back!  They had bought some chicks at the farm supply store a few weeks back, and the 5 were picking and pecking on them.  Understandably, that will never do.

Now, we're seeing here with a coop that from what I've learned can hold 10 birds, and it was holding 10 birds!  That's not how I wanted to do this.  I wanted a mix and a match.  Different looks, not 10 that when they grow their feathers back all look the same!

I had nothing to fear though.  My wife had it all under control and posted on Facebook to her friends to see if anyone was wanting 5 chickens.  Then we waited.

That night, I went out to check on the new hens.  5 birds were inside the coop on the roosts.  5 were outside in the chicken yard. *sigh*

I got them all picked up and put in the coop, and I went ahead and placed them on the roost.
The next night, they all went inside, but only 7 birds were on the roosts.  Again, I picked them up and placed them on the roost.  The next night, I found 8 birds on the roosts.  This was getting old.  They weren't learning as fast as the first batch.

Luckily, my wife's friend said she'd take another 5 chickens!  Just one more night.  And sure enough, 8 birds roosting.  And what I failed to mention was that the 2 that weren't, really, really wanted to cuddle up in the nesting boxes to sleep.  So I learned to put a board in front of the nesting boxes so they couldn't get in them at night.

The next day, after the pickup, we were back down to 5 birds!  I was so excited.  That was, until night.  Then we had 3 birds roosting and 2 not.

As I kept trying to teach, I finally go to 4 birds roosting.

After much research and asking on different groups online (like Backyard Chickens on G+) I found that it's not a big deal, so I wasn't going to worry about it too much

Last night, I forgot to put the board up to keep the chickens from getting in the laying boxes.  So I went out to check, and sure enough, she was in there.  I got her out and put her on a roost and placed the board up to keep her out.

Tonight, when I went out to close up the coop, I peeked in on them, and all 5 of our girls were on their roosts!

Chickens!

Earlier this year, we decided we wanted to build a coop and raise chickens.  Mainly for their eggs.  So Here is the chronicle of our coop.

March 28th
I started getting holes for a the posts of a new chicken coop we decided we wanted to build.  The next day, We started the building!

March 29th
We took some 4x4's and cut them down and cemented them into the holes, then put one of those large pallets on it (7.5 ft x 3 ft)


Afterward, my son and I put down some plywood and then added some simple framing.


By the time we got that done, we'd basically ran out of daylight and had to wait to do anymore till the next day.

March 30th
My son and I measured and cut out the sides, and got them hung.


Later, one of my friends came over and helped me get the sheet metal installed and I was able to get a few pictures taken before dark.



April 1st
Tuesday after work, I got home and got the doors and the vents installed.  (I took pictures, but it's too dark to really mess with posting here.

April 2nd
After work again I managed to get the window and front door installed.



April 10th
There had been several things come up, so I didn't get to do much work over the weekend. I did manage to start getting things wrapped up and it was getting close to be ready for some chickens!

You can see we got the laying boxes built and I put some some chicken wire to keep them from roosting above the boxes.



I also go the roosts installed.

My grandson seems to like it.

My wife also did some painting on it


And we got the basic yard laid out.  So that would be the next step.


April 11-13th
Over the next few days, we got the yard walls up and secured with chicken wire.  We also got netting installed on the top hoping it would keep out aerial predators.

My wife did some more painting and the previous fall, we had some water barrels given to us, so we decided to install them.







April 15th
April 15th was the day we got our chickens.  We got some ISA Browns.  My wife found some on craigslist for $6/each if you get ten birds.  So one of our friends decided to split the 10 between us.
They were 14 months old, and going through a molt.  However, I thought these would be good to start with.  They're cheaper than a lot we had seen and if there was a problem with the coop or the yard, The loss would be better.  We also go our first egg that day!





April 19th
My uncle who has a guttering company came over and installed some guttering on the coop.  I really wanted to be able to collect rainwater if at all possible from the coop to be used in the garden.

April 20th
We had some tree's growing up in places I didn't really want them, so I moved three of them close to the coop to help provide shade (one day in the future).

Today (April 27th)
So far, so good.  We've done a few things that have not worked out so well, but overall, everything has been great.  We're getting between 2 to 3 eggs a day (with a max of 5).

The Coop is right by the compost bins and garden.  We're both pretty excited.





Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gentlemen, Start your Gardens

Today was the first warm weekend we've had lately.  I've been thinking about this years garden, but just hadn't done anything but finish cleaning up the garden from last year.  So, with the warmer temperatures, I got out, and got some of the compost I made last year mixed in, and then got some spinach, lettuce, onions and peas planted outside.
Peas are in the left bed, everything else in the right.

After getting those planted, I went inside and planted 3 kinds of tomato's and some jalapeno's from seed.  I've not started them from seed in a very long time, so we'll see how it goes.


Decided to try starting the seeds in some left over containers we had.  The tomatoes are planted in a spinach container, and peppers in some lunch meat containers.  They should help keep the moisture in till they sprout.  Assuming they work, we'll have to take the lids off as there just wont be enough room otherwise.

I also have to decide if I'm going to build a new raised bed this year.  I had planned on it last year, but I don' think it's going to happen this year.  Though Blackberry bushes will be planted this year!

We also spent part of the day researching chicken coops.  We've come up with some ideas, now it's time to get the materials and get it built.