So, how did that chicken coop project we started yesterday come out?
Well, while I was crackling the doors, Chris finished the roof and ventilation area.
Of course, it needed steps up to the roosting and nesting area.
I got busy using up the extra white paint to cover most of the wood surfaces. I left a little paint free to look rustic. I may paint it later. Maybe red!
While I painted, the ramp got built, so I painted that last. It’s just got to dry then we can set it up.
Next thing I knew, Chris was working with PVC pipe. I looked up and, boom, he’d made chicken feeders he’d seen on Pinterest.
We took them over and set them up on one of the few walls that aren’t moving soon. I put food in them (and the dispenser worked!).
Next, we herded all the chickens into the feeding area. They found the water holder then noticed the food dish had moved. It only took a minute or two for Steen to figure out the feeder. Others joined in!
Good news at last: Fancy Pants MAY be getting les broody. We are seeing her out more and more. Sigh. Just in time for fertilized eggs. Ha!
Chris and Suna create desktops and chicken coops from scraps and leftovers.
One thing’s for sure, the hermits of Hermits’ Rest sure know how to celebrate without leaving the property. I’m proud of us.
Most of the day, Chris and I worked on two projects, a second hen house and nest box, and my new desk.
My project was the desk. First I spent a couple of hours sanding the doors, one of which is the desk top and one the “modesty panel.” I’m so modest, you see. I just wanted to rough them up a bit.
By the way, the doors came from the Pope Residence, and were a bathroom and closet door, so smaller than standard.
The desk top was painted white. It’s paint was peeling and hard to sand, so it took a while. I forgot to take a “before” picture. I’ll blame the heat. I did really well not overheating today!
No doubt you notice the doors don’t match. It’s okay. This interesting shade of coral red (made by mixing my bathroom tomato red with the red from our Christmas float) will be an undercoat.
Both doors look nice and “rustic” so I’m happy. Tomorrow the MAGIC will happen, so come back for Day 2 of the door desk paint project!
Meanwhile, Chris was finishing the nest boxes he started, which are nicely hinged now.
Then he got to work turning a shipping crate that held the tile for our house 5 years ago into a chicken coop. He added a roosting shelf, and attached the nest boxes.
The outside he covered in more of the tin we used in the Pope Residence.
By the time we called it quits, he’d measured the roof and got the supports up. The hardware cloth (wire mesh) is ready for the ventilation openings. This should also get done tomorrow!
We also hope to get more shade cover for the birds and to enlarge the pens, like I mentioned earlier. That will keep us busy at home for another day!
Did I mention that these projects only cost us labor? All materials are scraps or leftover stuff from other projects. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive! It does help to have a creative and talented team lead, though. Go team!
I was a little worried that we are pampering the chickens and guineas. For example, I wandered out into the woods today to make more perches and shade for the chickens.
And Chris made a new shelf and perch for the guineas. They have really grown since we got them!
I feel much better now, though. I got two books of chicken projects at Tractor Supply, and they had some of the most indulgent yet cute projects imaginable. One has 40 projects; one has 50. I guess their editors had the same idea.
One of the authors, Lisa Steele, who is apparently a big chicken blogger,* puts curtains on all her hens’ nest boxes, because some are shy. Lordy. And she makes them salves and feeds them herbs. And builds many adorable hen swings.
I did enjoy the projects in both books (Janet Garman is a little more serious but also obviously LOVES chickens) and got some good ideas, like making a low perch for the Jersey Giants. Right now Hedy loves it the most, followed by Henley and Bruce. The young hens do love all the new things. They still like to play.
Oh! I forgot to share that last night I let Ginger and Bertie run around and chase grasshoppers for a while. Lee and I were mighty entertained. Those gals are good! Even Clarence came out and caught some. I got them all back in pretty easily once they had their fill.
I hope we can let them out more often. As long as the big dogs are inside, they’re fine. Vlassic and Gracie just watch like we do!
Nope. Our chickens aren’t pampered. Just fun.
*Like I can talk. I’m a not-big sort of ranching sort of venting blogger.
It’s a rooster, of course. Since we are down 3 hens (we lost our injured Jewel last week) I wanted more. Bird and Bee Farm keeps running out of chickens, so I despaired of getting more any time soon. But yesterday we got a call from Cindy Rek, who said our turn had come, because they finally have baby guinea fowl (called keats), which Kathleen has been wanting.
We hadn’t expected them so soon, so we’ve been scrambling to get stuff set up for them ever since. With a plan in our minds, Chris and I set out for the farm so we could arrive by 8 am. That is dedication. But that way we were the first to get there.
The Wildscape my Master Naturalist friend, Catherine Johnson, works so hard on is really coming into its own. So many flowers and creative touches. She’s started a southwestern garden and a moon garden with all white flowers.
After petting the Rek’s new collie puppy, Dixie, we went in for chickens and guineas. Very quickly, Chris came over with a box of ten little darlings. Five are lavender and five some other fancy color. They’re just a few weeks old and like to Peep. So I want to name them all Peep, so we can later chill with our Peeps.
I had more trouble, since I wanted older pullets. Well, they are selling them so fast that the oldest they had were 3.5 months old. I realized we’d have to separate the current hens from the new ones. Time for Plan B!
I ended up with two very black Jersey Giants (supposed to be very nice) that I had to name Spring and Steen. Jersey girls. We also got a gorgeous Silver Wyandotte. Her feathers are gorgeous, black with white tips. Her name is Patti. Mrs Springsteen.
They begged me to take a rooster, so I picked a flashy Easter Egger, in the hopes that maybe Fancy Pants can raise us some babies with olive eggs. Guess what I named him? Bruce. He has some hilarious whiskers around his face. We are probably getting another rooster from a friend. I guess he will be either Clarence or Little Steven.
There is another pair. They are Ancona, a pretty breed that apparently has red eyes. They are mostly black but have random white tips. Ours have a few white feathers, too. I read that they get more white with each moult. I ran out of E Street Band enthusiasm and named them Hedy and Hedley.
Now that we had chickens, we had to get another dog pen to put the teen chickens in, and a place for the guinea fowl to grow in. And feeders and waterers. Each group eats different food, of course. It only took two different Tractor Supply stores, thanks to the nice clerk in Rockdale who found us one in College Station. That was a nice store. It did get tiresome wearing my mask, but I looked like a cowgirl.
Our other errand was to pick up some stuff from the John Deere store. Only it wasn’t outside the store like they said it would be. It’s okay, we enjoyed driving around looking at farms.
Back at the Hermits’ Rest we went into bird housing overdrive. Chris got the guinea chicks in the big dog pen we got for them, only to watch them squeezing out. Oops. Luckily we’d bought chicken wire in case we needed it. While Lee and I chased the last escapee, the wire went up. Whew.
They loved their water and food dishes and soon were falling all over each other eating and drinking. After that, the babies napped a lot.
Meanwhile, much to the annoyance of Ginger, Bertie Lee, and Fancy Pants, Chris temporarily confined them the a small part of their coop. Then he let the black chickens out. Everyone had food and water, but the Springsteen family hid in their box for a long time.
Lee and Chris quickly built the new addition, which is bigger than the original because of how he arranged the dog pen panels.
Next, we took some of the tin left over from the Pope house project and made some shade panels for the original section, in the west, and a bit of rain cover for the new addition. They needed more shade.
After putting in some roosting branches/boards the new group was released there and the old ones got their house back. No doubt they are jealous of the grass the new chickens have. Don’t worry, I gave them some.
The black chickens had never seen grass or treats before, but they figured it out fast. By the time I went inside, they were happily eating, drinking and pecking.
We found some wood to make a couple more nest boxes and a second little coop for when the new guys start laying. They will be okay with their cardboard box temporarily.
I can’t believe Chris got as much done today as he did! Instant chicken quarters! I’m very grateful for his creativity and willingness to do this, since it was NOT on the original weekend plan.
It’s more like this: you have to convince them the water is there.
The hens have had their new water trough a few days now, but no one had seen them use it. I’d let their old water dispenser in the coop, so they could transition, but they kept going up and banging on it.
Jewel, who somehow managed to injure her leg, liked the drip area. I guess it’s her hydrotherapy spa.
Anyway, today I decided to do some water education. I turned the tap on and let the water run. Everyone was intrigued, judging from the clucks and tilted heads. Even Fancy Pants was there, taking her evening brooding break.
I let the water run until it overflowed, hoping they’d see that the pipe produced water. It worked! They all ran over and poked at the runoff. Jewel immediately set herself in the biggest wet area. Still, no one had used the trough.
I ran the water a little more, and Bertie stuck her beak in and drank. After another minute, Ginger did it. And even Fancy Pants got a big drink before retiring to her throne.
I left to get them some dandelions, and on my way back I saw voluntary drinking. And Jewel has positioned herself right next to a water outlet, so she can rest and heal. Awwww.
We hope she feels better by the time we get her new boyfriend next week!
Even though it was really, really hot yesterday, I continued on my quest to work with Apache on his issues with going where he is asked to go.
I really figure that just the time spent with him would do me good, and I was happy to see Craig Moore, a young horse trainer in May, Texas who I follow, echoing that. He wrote about how he’d never thought just hanging around with a horse would mean much, but he tried it yesterday, sitting in a chair and reading on his phone in the pen. The Mustang who’d only been with them a day or two came up to him and checked him out, even sniffing his face. Just the quiet presence helped. If it even helps people who win the Extreme Mustang Makeover, it has to help me and my champion grass chewer!
So, Mandi and I got together again last night, and after spending some time grooming Apache and Fiona (and feeding Big Red, the hen), we decided (with not much planning or forethought) to take him to the other place that gives him trouble, down the row of evergreen trees behind our “training pasture” or “outdoor arena,” which is towards the neighbors’ house.
He did better than yesterday, for sure, but did try to turn back, especially under those scary high-voltage wires. Each time he did it, I followed my plan and stopped him, then gently turned him in the direction I wanted him to go in. He always responded to my touch command, which was good.
Two things helped. I’d remembered to bring a carrot stick with me, and I used a shorter lead rope. I keep tripping on the really long one, because I can’t keep it all nicely curled up while walking, using the stick, and avoiding Apache’s feet. Both these things made a big difference. The stick helped keep him going the way I wanted, and after the scary place, he walked normally the rest of the way down the treeline, calmly turned around, and did not rush going back.
Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that the fact that Vlassic and Fiona followed us would be a problem, and we’ve been asked not to bring dogs down there again by Sara and Ralph. I didn’t see or hear their dogs, so I hadn’t realized there was a problem, and Vlassic stuck right with us, I thought. Anyway, we have plenty of other places to walk, or we can lock Vlassic in the tack room if there’s a reason to head toward the Wild Type Ranch area. We want to be good neighbors!
Since that had gone fairly well, we determined we would do the race again. At first, it was like yesterday, but this time I never let him turn completely around, and I used the carrot stick and my hand to get him facing forward again. If he got wound up, we just stopped for a while. It didn’t take too long before I realized he was walking normally again. HOORAY!
We made it through the scary puddles, past the scary gate, and down to the shady area. The wind suddenly whipped up and Apache went to attention. Mandi asked him what he smelled, and he answered her as best as he could.
We then happily walked back, enjoying a breeze and some dark clouds. Suddenly I looked up and there was a partial rainbow. It absolutely made our day complete, as we smiled and laughed with each other.
We got back, and once again marveled that Fiona now follows me when I hold out my hand, and goes nicely into her pen. I guess the donkey’s getting well trained, too!
And Chicken News
Meanwhile, back at the chicken coop, Chris finished our new watering trough for the hens. This will make it a LOT easier to give them water, since I just have to turn on the hose, right next to the coop.
This comes at a good time, since Jewel (the black one) seems to have somehow broken a leg! She can get around, but anything that makes life easier on her will be helpful, poor dear.
Fancy Pants is STILL broody, but we may have a new man for them, this lovely young Copper Maran who needs a home. I hope it makes Fancy Pants happy, and isn’t too hard on Jewel. If it is, we’ll separate them. We hope we will be able to get more chickens soon…
I’m looking forward to today and to the weekend, to see if I can keep building on the progress with Apache. I hope to have something good to show Sara!
The new chickens have ended up being a very popular addition to the Hermits’ Rest collection of animals. Even Lee has been seen sneaking out to give them some treats. Lee’s brother, Jim, who is staying in an RV in our garage area, mowed the grass this weekend, and made sure when he went by the chickens that he’d send clippings in their way, which went over very well. Jim’s been helping with feeding them, too, which gets him out in the fresh air.
Yesterday was a darned good day for the hens, who are just about old enough to lay eggs, we hope. Not only did they get a visit from my friend, Mike, but they got a new toy!
I’d picked out a second limb for them to climb on, but hadn’t put it in the chicken run yet. I drafted my friend Meghan to help me install it, and then I just sat on the grass and watched them check it out. (Hint: the first time you wear short sleeves in the spring, you should remember sunscreen. I did not.)
Indeed, they had fun. Elsie pecked a lot of things off it, which I guess were bugs, but Ginger liked it the best. She climbed up and down, flew off it, and even flew from one branch to the other (I missed getting a shot of that). It makes me happy to see them doing more than just scratching around for food.
Of course, they get a LOT of food. I gave them trimmings from salad last night, and they immediately started fighting over the radish tops. Later, they descended very quickly on strawberries. I hope all this nutrition is helping them grow big and strong, I’ve noticed the ones with combs are growing then in now, too. They are in their late teens, for hens.
Yesterday I showed how Ginger had climbed up into the little roosting area, which relieved me. Later in the day, I saw more than one of the young ladies perched on the indoor roosting area. That gives me hope that they have figured out how to get out of the rain, and will find their nests for laying eggs.
The next thing I am going to work on is providing a little more shade for them. Lee says soon we can add on to the chicken run, too! See, he likes them.
Somehow, yesterday’s post got posted TWICE, which sure messes up my stats. I deleted the one with fewer hits. I have NO idea how that happened, but the internet is full of mystery.
Hiya hiya (a brand of knitting needles), everyone. I’ve been trying to write this all day, but I can’t complain, because my lunch hour, when I often write, was pleasantly filled with a nice conversation and lunch with my friend Melissa. We had one of our usual hour-long regurgitation of the highs and lows of our lives since we last saw each other, which was way more fun than sitting at my desk typing!
Yesterday was an equally full day. Kathleen and Chris made it to Cameron Saturday evening, so we set out to do on Sunday all the things we’d originally planned to do over the whole Thanksgiving week. Not everything got done, but we sure did a LOT. We’re really grateful to Chris for how hard he worked.
Saturday we started out working on our float the the Cameron Christmas Parade. The good news is that we already have a truck and a trailer, so yay. And another good thing is that a marvelous invention, the battery-operated Christmas light, has enabled us to light the float without putting a big ole generator on the back of the pickup.