"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee

I am so excited about this - I can't wait to share it...

One of our neighbours, Eddie, was kind enough to give us a hen and a rooster.  We seem to have an insect infestation in our shadecloth veggie hut, so I had asked his wife if we could possibly "rent" a couple of their chickens for a couple of weeks - to sort out the problem in as eco-friendly a way as possible.
New chickens exploring the shade covered
veggie patch
When she arrived with the chickens, she said that they have over 40 ("... which is more than enough...") and that we can have the two.  Yoohoo!!  RMan didn't want chickens - seems like he has no choice in the matter now ;)  (sly, aren't I?)

Please meet Tweedle Dum (the rooster) and Tweedle Dee (the hen) - Dum Dum and Dee Dee for short.
They were a tad nervous for the first couple of
 days - strange surroundings, and even stranger
 new "owner" ;)
We set up a temporary coop for them inside the shade cloth veggie hut - complete with roosting perch - but they weren't interested.  They settled themselves down on the ground every evening in the corner farthest away from the temporary coop.  Damn and blast it!
Once Dum Dum and Dee Dee were allowed outside
the shadecloth structure they rushed merrily around
- here, there and everywhere - at full speed.
After they had been locked in the veggie hut for a week (as per Eddie's instructions) the time came to let them explore their new surroundings.  They thoroughly enjoyed scratching below the lemon trees (eating the ants?)...
They fancy my strawberry / youngberry patch the
most - much to the inquisitiveness of the alpacas
...before investigating my strawberry / youngberry patch.  Much to the curiosity of Rupert and Minky.  They couldn't quite work out what these duck like looking creatures were - and they were the wrong colour.

But, the problem of their chicken coop / roosting perch remained.  I was very uncomfortable with them just sleeping on the ground - and was worried about karakul / otters gaining access to the veggie patch in order to snaffle the chickens.  All they had for protection was a single layer of shadecloth.

Not good enough.  I didn't sleep comfortably for that week.
1000 lt water tank
Wandering round the property trying to think of a solution, I spied the empty support cage from the one rainwater tanks which we had cut in half in order to store the alpaca's lucerne and oats away from the mice.
The one water tank was cut in half to be used
as a mouse free storage space for the alpacas
 lucerne / oats
My brain had a light bulb moment, and feverishly started conceptualizing what was happening inside it lol

Grabbing RMan, and dragging him to where the frame was located, I explained my idea.

We had some chicken wire which we were using to sort / clean the VM out of the alpaca fibre.
The arrows indicate where the doorway has been
 situated - bear in mind that the tank has been
 turned on it's side
If we took that chicken wire, turned the frame on it's site, used the two top cage structure supports as an entrance and covered the rest of it (top and sides - the bottom is a solid base) with chicken wire, we would have an instant secure chicken coop that no predator should be able to access.

So that's exactly what we did :)
The frame was completely covered with chicken
 wire.  The two top supports (shown with arrows
 in the above pic) are now a doorway, which I
 can easily access.
We placed a piece of galvanized roof sheet on the top to keep the rain out of the coop.  On top of that we fixed the chicken wire - thus the chicken wire is "holding" the roof sheet in place and preventing it from blowing away / rattling in the wind.

God bless the person who invented cable ties.  Cable ties (aplenty) secured the chicken wire to the frame perfectly.
Dum Dum and Dee Dee were easily coerced into
 their new home with some corn:)
(You can see the solid base now acting as a side
in the above pic.)
Having "taught" the chickens that the shade cloth veggie patch was their new home, I was concerned that I would battle to get them into their even newer home - which has been placed just next to the shade cloth veggie patch.

I needn't have worried.  Sprinkling a bit of food in the entrance and a larger pile further in, they couldn't resist.

Quick as a flash I closed the door that RMan had made out of a piece of plywood (hinged with - yeah, you guessed it - cable ties bwahahaha), and the chickens were safely ensconced inside for the night:)
Success!!!  Two roosting chickens :D
I went out ½ hour later and both of them had finished munching and were finally roosting :)

Hehe.  I do so love it when I'm on the same page as animals I am trying to assist.

This coop will also be easy to move whenever we need to - RMan and I will just pick it up and place it in it's new position.  Chicken poop will be easy to scoop up when the coop is moved.

And, with John's, (the casual labourer) assistance, RMan and he will be able to pick it up over the wooden fence and place it in the newer veggie area when we want / need the chickens assistance / nitrogen there.
Shadecloth draped over the top of the new
chicken coop will provide rain, shade and wind
 protection to the coop.
Note the nesting box just inside the door -
yup, I'm ready for when the hen is ready to
lay ;)

(in the pic you can clearly see the
 6 X cable ties which are the door hinges)
This morning we draped the top half of the coop with a double layer of 80% shade cloth and secured it with cable ties once again - to help keep the rain off them if it slants down sideways whilst they're roosting, and it will also give them some shelter from the wind, and help to keep the roof sheet cooler during the hot summer months.
Can you see the roosting perches?
I have found them on both the upper
and lower perches
I just l-o-v-e this little chicken coop.  Measuring 1.0 mtrs high X 1.2 mtrs wide and 1.0 mtrs deep it should suffice for at least 6 - 8 chickens.

Firstly, it is definitely secure against karakul and otters, and it will keep the chickens protected from inclement weather.

But, mostly importantly to me, the old water storage tank frame is almost serendipitously perfect to (re)use as a chicken coop, especially given that it had just been lying around - unused and unwanted.  Recycling at it's best :)

As for RMan - the chickens have worked their magic - if  they spot either of us outside, they immediately run up, and start following us.

"They're very cute", says RMan, "not ducks, but cute nevertheless" - with a smile on his face, and a twinkle in his eyes, as the chickens chase after him.

"...here kip-kip, kiiiiiip-kip-kip, kip-kip-kip..."


DFW said...

Love it! Good for you about the chickens & the recycled coop.

Quinn said...

It's nice having chickens about the place, isn't it? :)

Dawn McHugh said...

Great news on the chicken front, I just love cable ties one of the best inventions ever :-)

Marlene aka Ouma Miaau said...

I just love chickens! I had three silkies who really got rid of my pests in my garden. Although I bought chicken feed and also bred meal worms (they just LOVE meal worms), there were hardly a spider or a gogga left! As I was digging in the soil, they were scratching: perfect pest removal! And the by product was the beautiful eggs they gave us. How I miss them!

Dani said...

DFW - :)

Dani said...

Quinn - It's wonderful - dunno why it took us so long...

Dani said...

Dawn - Cable ties are plastic, and thus aren't madly eco-friendly, but boy, do they work for the oddest of applications... ;)

Dani said...

Marlene - We still need to experience their egg production capability ;) But, I watched the rooster catch a flying insect mid-flight this morning. Excellent!! ;)

Bill said...

Yay! Congrats on the new chickens. I think you'll be very pleased to have them around. Love your creative solution to the coop problem. :)

African Bliss said...

Brilliant Danie and Co.

Dani said...

Bill - We're loving having them around - they're almost as comical as the ducks... :)

Dani said...

Thanks Rae & Co ;D

Jayne Hill said...

Excellent post, great photos, brilliant solution :-) Looks like you're a chook household now along with the rest of the menagerie (sorry RMan ...)

Dani said...

Jayne - RMan is in the process of becoming smitten - especially when they follow us round all day... ;)

Jayne Hill said...


Does he realise that one girl isn't going to be able to lay nearly enough eggs for you both . . . Maybe Eddie's wife wants to sell two or three? Dum Dum needs more than one wife :-)

Dani said...

Jayne - (Grin) Yup - at max the hen will lay 5 eggs a week - once it starts laying. The plan is to get RMan happy with the ONE chicken, and then sneakily add to the flock... :) Devious, I know, but where there's a will, there's a way. And it's all for our benefit, isn't it :D

Jayne Hill said...

Tell him it is all part of a holistic approach to land management.

The chickens eat bugs, green waste from the kitchen and provide you with poultry poo for your compost heap and lovely eggs.

In return, you give them grain and shelter from predators. No way RMan is going to argue with that logic {ha ha ha}

Dani said...

Jayne - Yup - he watched Tweedle Dum catch a flying insect mid-flight ;) (Clever rooster) I think he was put off because we knew someone who had chickens when we still lived in towns, and their coop was a mess. Which attracted vermin. And stank,

Not how I do things at all... ;)

Leigh said...

Excellent coop! Very clever and what a great addition chickens are. Once you start getting eggs you'll wonder how you did without them. Chicken manure too, is the absolute best at revving up a compost pile.

Dani said...

Leigh - Thought it might interest you as you have the same water containers :) If you ever need another coop, you now know what to do :D

Chicken manure added to alpaca poo - my garden is going to go wild...!!