"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, 14 May 2016

Home (cluck) home

You recall back in August last year we borrowed - which became ownership - of two chickens ~ Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (the rooster).  We sorely missed our ducks which went walkabout so RMan wasn't that keen on the idea of having chickens.
The old water tank which became a
 lucerne holder and a chicken coop
Rushing around trying to sort out a temporary coop for the chickens we resorted to adapting the frame of a 1000lt water tank.

In the meantime, RMan has come to appreciate the really fresh eggs Tweedle Dee was laying and which we were scoffing.  We had never expienced eggs that fresh before - you know what I mean? When you crack open the shell of a fresh egg the white and yolk land in the frying pan as a tight mass of deliciousness, as opposed to what we had experienced before with shop bought eggs where the white spread itself all over the pan.  Judging in the very apparent difference, I shudder to think how old the "fresh" shop eggs were by the time we purchased them.

RMan has also come to see the chickens according to the various characters that they have.  And always grins at their loping, side-to-side run when they spot us and think that a handful of food is in the offing...
Two chickens fitted in fine - but 6...?!
When Tweedle Dee became broody, and 4 chicks were hatched on 1 November last year, it was time for another coop.  Together with the "frame coop", we fashioned another one out of pallets - complete with egg laying / nesting box on the side.  Thus the "pallet coop" was born.
Wooden pallets converted to a chicken coop
The two coops sat side by side and worked well.  But, when the chicks were still small, they needed a protected spot to run around before they met Tweedle Dum.
The two coops before...
A temporary barrier of chicken netting sufficed - but only as a temporary measure.
From left to right:
Cluck's larger, Tweedle Dees two medium, and at the
 top Shelly's smaller egg
One of the now-grown-up chicks, Shelly (so called because her feathers remind me of a sea shell pattern) has also started laying.  So now we are getting 3 eggs most days.

In addition, Tweedle Dee has been broody 3 times since the beginning of the year, and, as the rooster, Tweedle Dum, was returned to Eddie because of his aggressive behaviour, which meant that all her eggs are thus infertile until her one male chick 'becomes of age', the necessity of having somewhere to lock her up until she came to her senses became imperative.  Locking her, and the others, out of the pallet coop (with it's laying boxes) meant that Cluck and Shelly didn't know where to lay their eggs.  Thus encouraging them to lay willy-nilly elsewhere on the property was not in my (egg hunting) benefit.

Plus, I wasn't happy that they were adequately protected from the (winter) elements.  How can I lay warm and snug in my bed at night knowing that they could be shivering and uncomfortable in their tiny coop?
Concrete foundations were thrown to prevent predators
 digging their way into the new enlarged coop
So, a chicken coop overhaul became imperative.

Firstly, we separated the two coops to either side of the new enlarged area.  and fixed in three roof support poles in the two outer corners and midway.  The back "wall" of the coop is the shade cloth covered veggie patch.  Then, to prevent the rooikat (or other predators) from accessing the coop, a concrete foundation was poured round the perimeter of the new coop area.

The walls were clad with chicken wire and, with the assistance of RSon's battery operated Skil saw which he lent to RMan, and RMan's table saw, some additional wooden offcut strips we got from the local sawmill were added for extra strength / protection / hindrance.  IBR sheets (corrugated iron) installed on battens made up the roof.
The two coops after...:)
RMan cleverly fashioned an entrance door out of a pallet.
Strong and sturdy door to the coop
 which RMan made from a pallet
Some concrete foundations, p-l-e-n-t-y of screws, and wire staples and three full days labour later - what was the chickens reaction to their new home?
Home cluck home... :)
They love it :)

No sooner had we cleared off from the "building site" than they had to come and inspect their new quarters.  Happily and without hesitation, they all trouped into the coop to inspect our handiwork.

I can now rest confidentially at night knowing that they are fully protected from the winter weather ahead, and that they are safe and secure, and, finally, they have the freedom to wake up in the mornings and have a wander round their enlarged coop until I am ready to let them out to free range.

That relieves a lot of the pressure - especially on those cold mornings - of having to get up when I hear them fussing round because they want out of the tiny cramped coops that they were previously locked up in every night.

Ain't it good to have a handyman around :)  Thanks once again RMan :D


DFW said...

That's a lovely & spacious coop. I bet they are really happy in there!

Sue said...

Looks terrific. You have a very handy man!

possumqueensa said...

Happy chickens are a beautiful sight.

Dawn McHugh said...

I love to see chicken houses made at home out of re-cycled materials I cant understand those who feel they have to spend £800 on des res accommodation for chickens

Cheryl Thomson said...

Investigated the age of shop-bought eggs, came up with research done by an ethical egg-producer on the West Coast = minimum 40 days from lay to being bought in our supermarkets. Cheryl Thomson, Napier

Dani said...

Dallas - T'would appear that they are VERY happy to have the extra space to move around in :)

Dani said...

Sue - He is indeed :) A "keeper" I reckon lol

Dani said...

pqsa - And, happy chickens make happy eggs. A 78gm egg was laid yesterday - 52 - 56gm is the size that they normally lay. It is so big, in fact, that the cardboard egg box cannot close on it.

Dani said...

Dawn - Couldn't agree with you more. If something can be re-purposed into something equally useful, and, in my opinion, as equally pleasing on the eye, why waste money / resources in purchasing something new - just for the sake of it??

Dani said...

Cheryl - Welcome - and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

That's incredible! How on earth do stores / supermarkets justify selling 40 day old eggs as "fresh"!!!!?

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a sweet post and yes, you are truly blessed with your 'handyman'. The chicks are blessed too.


Dani said...

Lorraine - Thank you :)

kymber said...

Dani - you just know that jambaloney loved looking at the various stages of the chicken coop building! he said RMan is a genious and i concur!

sending much love! your friend,

Dani said...

kymber - Jam and RMan are similar. Both creative with the little "waste" they come across. Aren't we lucky ;)

Harry Flashman said...

Since my wife has been home, we have started collecting the eggs for her to cook with. I used to just let the dogs eat all of them, but there are enough for all. Right now, I am going around each day to where the hens lay. Under the gas tank behind the shop, for instance. Or behind the row of trash cans . Places like that. But we are going to build some nesting boxes for them, so I don't have to do so much bending over to collect the eggs. We have somewhere around 50 chickens now so we have plenty of eggs.

Dani said...

Harry - Wow - that's a lot of eggs! I have read somewhere regarding the dehydrating of eggs. Perhaps you could dehydrate the excess ones, and keep in your food store? They would certainly be a useful form of protein in an emergency situation:)