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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chicken-topia March 2012

I know you are all expecting a Crufts update! I realize that I am over-sensitive but it takes me awhile to work through all my thoughts and feelings about big events. There is that excitement before-hand, the focus on the day(s), the sense of accomplishment, followed by a let-down and slight worry if we did well enough! Topped off by my mental struggle lately if I want to continue with agility, cut back or just take a break. For me it is not as simple as putting up some videos; I have to let it mull around my head a little. I am working up to it and have actually watched a few videos; so watch this space.

So instead you are all going to get a Chicken update! I LOVE my chickens; they make me smile even when I have to get up at 6 am to let them out. I am enjoying learning about them and constantly trying to see if we can improve their living conditions. Now that I have lived with chickens I am even more horrified to see videos and photos of caged birds no matter how "enriched" the cages are. I am not a vegetarian but I like to think that we can be humane even to the animals we eventually eat. I probably could be a vegetarian again (I was for many years) but do find it hard personally to stay healthy without meat. And I do love a good steak!

The house extension is going fantastic! We have had 3 weeks of perfect weather since the building started; so no delays at all. This is a view from where the new bi-fold doors will be. You can see to the right of the wooden pergola is the fenced-in vegetable patch, the green house and the chicken pen.

When we walk down to the veg/chicken garden they all come running up to greet us. They always think we will have extra goodies for them. They follow us around clucking like crazy and telling stories. Giz-mo likes to come down with me for our evening feeding of corn. Plus I couldn't put an entire post up on the OBay sheltie blog without a photo of a sheltie...

I love to see all the colours. Right now we have 8 chickens. They are all hybrids bred for laying. We reached a new record of 5 eggs a day this week which is pretty good as 5 of the birds are very new and young.

The chickens get to free range in the vegetable patch and greenhouse during the day for now.

Once we start planting the veggies they will be more restricted but will get some free range in the main garden when I am out to supervise. They have a nice large dedicated pen that houses their coop, a little dog kennel for daytime protection, branches and lots of dirt to dig around in. We are eventually going to put a roof on this pen and then it will be 100% (as much as it can be) secure from predators. It has a very expensive wire mesh around it that is both dug into the ground AND bent outwards to form an apron. These are both deterrents for the foxes. The mesh is about 8 feet high right now and will also go over the top. Then the roofing will go over that to provide both sun and rain protection.

We have been trying different options for the chicken coop. I hear all kinds of horror stories about mites and other beasties so I wanted to try one of the plastic coops. Unfortunately they are ridiculously expensive so we thought we would try and make our own! This is a little plastic garden shed that we have adapted. We have gone through many revisions so this is the current rev. Lots of ventilation, wooden perches and 2 cat litter trays for nesting boxes. The only issue with this current revision is that the chickens like to roost in the nesting boxes at night and that makes a mess. Chickens are VERY messy!

Crufts update maybe in a few days! Now off to close the chickens in for the night and to scold them for sleeping in the nesting boxes.