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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: chicken coop

FourThirtyAM

For a variety of reasons, which I have decided to keep private, our little Farmette was dismantled. We re-homed the two ponies – to great homes and caregivers. The last bantam chicken, a hermit crab and a parakeet, that were lingering here, also got new digs. Our two, now senior, but surprisingly energetic canines, were all that remained.

So, it has been three+ years and it is 4:30 in the morning. In this article’s featured image, you can see the yellow-tinged light coming from my office. It shines in the darkness of the cold night that permeates my pajamas, as I stand outside to take the picture (photo: Canon PowerShot A1300). I have gotten to the age where insomnia comes often and I now choose to take advantage of it. I get the quiet work done. The type that won’t wake up the whole household. This morning that work is writing, which I just adore.

The experience with farm animals; from horses to goats to pigs to sheep to chickens to guinea fowl to ducks to turkeys to quail to geese to bees, has been so enriching. We learned so much! And with all of that behind us, and a wealth of knowledge, we have decided to remake our mini farm, on a small and easily manageable scale.

We now have our two existing dogs, two new young cats and four Swedish Flower chickens. These are our two pairs of new chickens:

SwedishFlowers_1

Swedish Flower Chickens – 16 Weeks Old (photo: iPhone SE)

Swedish Flowers are a rare breed that has only been in the United States since 2010. I was browsing craigslist in the farm sales section and happened upon them. After looking them up online: https://www.backyardchickens.com/reviews/swedish-flower-chicken.11461/, I decided to go ahead and get them while they were still available. That means that they are currently residing in a four chamber travel cage while I construct the ultimate predator proof coop and run. Whenever I am outside working on the new coop, they get to hang out in the temporary outdoor pen.

The following is a photo (also taken with an iPhone SE) of the base of the coop in progress. There are nine old boards screwed into three old 4x4s that will be drilled with holes for pulling/moving the cage. Since taking the photo, I have removed the corner braces from the frame (This suggestion came from my brother J. He is helping me via pics, text and talk from Baltimore, MD). Most of the materials are being cannibalized from other cages and shelters on our property. So far, the only new materials I plan to purchase are metal braces, paint and some sort of repair material(s) for the aluminum roofing.

PPcoop_base

As you can see, the base is solid wood. I will be drilling some holes for drainage and using pine shavings to line the bottom. But, we will not have to worry about foxes, raccoons or weasels digging underneath and in to eat our future egg-producing, clucking, crowing residents.

PS – Welcome Back Readers!

 

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We just love our little Bantams. They are easier to handle than Standard-sized chickens and take up much less room. They are also less likely to wander far, so they have been let out of their pen for a few hours.

Surprisingly, their eggs are not that much smaller than your average chicken egg. We have ducks and turkeys and a group of Standard Ameraucanas for large eggs. That is plenty.

Although WordPress.com gives you and “add video” option, it seems to be limited as to the file types, so I have included a quick link to this clip:

http://goldencollie.com/Bantams.avi

As you can hear loudly in the background audio, the ducks were trying to steal the show. Actually, they just wanted more food for their bottomless-pit appetites.

The Bantams in this video are all Hens and Pullets with the exception of the Top Hat Rooster (Black body with a white plume of feathers on his head). The other roosters and in another pen so they won’t fight over the hens. The Top Hat rooster is a good predator deterrent since he is a mean little bastard.

We just purchased a new miter saw. This is a much needed tool for pen building. Hopefully, by the Spring, there will be a big, long pen or two with separators for breeding pairs. Until then, the Bantams can be kept in two groups.

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We have almost five acres. It is a nice sized piece of land. Getting the right combination of animals for the space has been a mix and match challenge. It is not enough space to have cows or a lot of other large animals, but it can accommodate a good number of small to medium sized livestock.

On one side of our house, we keep our fowl pens. There is a 10′ x 10′ pen with 2 ducks, a 5′ x 10′ pen with 2 turkeys, a cage with 2 Japanese (coturnix) quail and a homing pigeon, 3 bantam chicken cages, a chick grow out cage and the main standard chicken coop.

Our horse and pony have a double pasture out front. That set of large animals works well. The recent rain storms keep passing over our area, so we have a round bale scheduled for pickup today, but normally during the warm weather, the grass grows at about the same pace as their grazing.

The three dogs all stay inside now. And they have a fenced area in the back to run around in. That is also where our herd is. We have four mini goats. And now there is Charlie.

Charlie

This is our new lamb. He is very quiet and shy. I think that Charlie is an Oxford sheep. They are used for both meat and wool. We won’t be eating Charlie, but a scarf would be nice. Actually, I have a friend that weaves, so she will most likely be getting a surprise package when we shave him.

The goats have been ignoring him, except for Luna. Luna is our little black goat that loves to play all day. She taunts the dogs. She jabs me lightly in the calves with her little horns if I’m not quick enough at feed time. Luna has been torturing Charlie. But Charlie barely feels her pushing him around. His fleece serves as a bouncy, thick layer of protection.

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Well, chick season is starting off slowly. We have not sold one. However, when I sold my Western saddle set, I gave them two ducklings as change. That was oddly fun.

This Pic is up on craig’s list presently, among others. These chicks give customers an idea of the types available.

Three Chicks

It is just a matter of timing. They will sell eventually, but I’d really like to avoid building pens right now. We may get to that this weekend. It would be good to have a juvenile chicken raising pen in addition to the big plastic bins for the small chicks.

I had to do some sorting this morning. Instead of having different types together, the two bins were changed to one with the very young and one with the ones that are older. Two ducklings were getting very big, so they were switched to a cage.

We are keeping three ducklings. Our big white Pekin Drake (male) duck disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. It is actually more likely that it was into the stomach of a stray or coyote, but there was no evidence. We looked for the mash of feathers and found none.

He could not have just flown away as farm duck breeds have short wings. They are not bred to fly. So, we must keep a few of the ducklings in hopes of a new breeder boy.

Most of the ducklings are multi-colored, but a few turn out white. We have one of those now and we’ll keep him since we miss our big white one.

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The best part of having a chicken coop is the cleaning – false. Please keep this in mind when you design yours. Easy access is crucial to taking care of this chore.

Keeping your birds dry is very important, so designs with mesh bottoms work great and also make for easy clean-up. But, you do have to think about bad weather and a spot to avoid the cold, drafts, snow and rain. If nesting boxes are open, they need to be in an area with a roof and side walls.

Main Coop

Bantam Chicken Coop

The best way to keep fowl is to give them a few choices. Horizontal perches, boxes with just a hole for them with a door for you and a well-ventilated sheltered structure that you are able to stand in are all good combination designs.

Some prefer the chicken tractor which is movable. Most versions are shaped like a long 3D rectangle. At one end is a closed nesting box with a latched and hinged flap at the back for egg collection. The rest is safe caged pen. You can avoid creating a muddy area and protect your birds from predators, while allowing them something similar to free ranging.

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