Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Upgrades to the Coop!

  We have gathered quite a flock in two months that we have been on the farm.  Chickens are so much fun to watch and there is a never ending well of silly chicken jokes and puns.  We are enjoying many good laughs and good eggs!

We consistently get at least four eggs per day now.  A couple of times a week we get six.  As our hens get older and reach laying age,  I suspect (and sincerely hope!) to get at least ten. The blue egg is from our Araucana, Crazy Lady.  We have another Araucana that is not yet laying.    

  These eggs are so much richer in flavor and color than those off the store shelves.  I scrambled a few up the other day and one of the children asked me why I put mustard with the eggs!

This is Niblet, our Jersey Giant.  This picture does not give justice to the size of this substantial lady. We have had her for three weeks now and she has grown like a little (chick)weed.  We call her Niblet because she nibbles on all of us - our hands, feet, ears,  It could be because the children have fed her from all of those places.  She is particularly fond of pecking at my wedding band.  She lays about three times a week right now.  Huge, brown, mostly double yolkers.    

  The chicken coop is inside of our barn.  To get them accustomed to their home and one another we kept them in the coop day and night.  It is a fairly large coop with good old drafty barn ventilation.  They seemed to do okay that way,  but I knew they would be happier and healthier out in the fresh air and sunshine.  (don't we same the same for our children!?!?)  So my husband and sons took to putting chicken wire around the barnyard.   This was not to keep them confined,  rather to keep them safe from the dogs and coyotes. The barn yard is very very large so I am comfortable calling it free ranging.

  For the first month or so I was physically taking them in and out of the coop each day so they could free range.   I noticed that their productivity increased once they were able to get out,  but I was growing weary of physically moving them in and out every day.  I knew that it would be even better if they could go in and out as they please.  Foraging and frolicking in the daylight,  going in to get a bite of feed or visit the nesting box, and going in for the night to roost in a familiar spot. 

  My husband saw my frustration and went to work on a solution.  The side of the barn where the coop is has a window.  He removed the glass from this window and covered it with a hand made shutter.

YeeeHaawww!  Rhodie the Red says "I'm freeee!"

  There is a beam inside of the coop that runs in front of the window.  This allows the ladies to scale the beam and get to the window.
See them there all waiting their turn?  It's like Cedar Point or something!

  Then he fashioned a ramp from the window to the ground for the more timid of the flock.  The man has been blessed with many sons, so he had many helpers!

Way to use the ole noggin there Isaac!
All done!  Farmer Husband stands back and survey's his work!

  We are all enjoying this set up much better.  They can go in to sleep when they like,  and come out to forage and play when they like.  Other than making sure the feed bucket and waterers are full, and that the eggs are collected,  it's pretty hands off work.  We enjoy throwing them our scraps and watching them fight over grasshoppers too!

A few of our Reds  
Goldie,  the newest Aruacana,  Obama,  our Barred Rock,  Rhodie,  a Rhode Island Red,  and Niblet,  cackling in the henhouse!