Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Asparagus, coop construction, and other concerns.

I am really excited about this, our asparagus has not only sprouted, it's doing well! It's sort of a silly sounding thing to be excited about I guess given everything else going on, but I'm excited about it none the less. Mostly I think because I didn't expect any of them to necessarily survive after some of the heavy rains that came in right after planting. So far only 9 of the 36 we planted have come up, but that's still better than the none that I'd been seeing up 'till now. I'm not sure if any more will come up, and if so, great, if not, we still have some which is better than no asparagus! That said, in a lot of ways that's the smallest thing going on.

First things first, we've gotten started on building a new chicken coop, much thanks to Kaya shown here with the platform floor for the chicken coop. As you can see, we put it fairly high off the ground, maybe a Little higher than we should have. It won't hurt to be fairly far off the ground though to keep predators of one sort and another out. The only real challenge is that we don't have a ladder that's appropriate for this situation, so I'm going to have to borrow a ladder, or make one to get up on on top of it to put the roof on. Clearly not the worst thing in the world, just an example of could have planned better either in terms of design, or tool availability. Beyond just getting the base floor done, I also made the front (South) and back (North) walls for the coop. Now I just need to get the side walls made, and cut the trusses at which point I'll need help again. Well, technically want help, but trying to do this kind of construction is going to be both easier and safer with someone else.What I can do if I have to is use jack stands to keep things vertical and level while I get them secured, but it's going to be wiser to have help. So far all of the materials I've been using are salvaged materials other than nails.

The chickens themselves are doing well, and despite the fact that I don't have a good picture of them we have new arrivals. No, not hatchlings from the incubator eggs, though we're still turning them 3x a day. A friend of ours had some chicks from a class project that needed a home, so I took the 3 she had left. Currently they're living in the basement since it's the most stable temperature area we can keep the cat out of. Normally it's stable and cold, but with the incubator down there it's somewhat sauna like, which we're going to change as soon as we don't need to keep the eggs in a humid environment. We definitely want the basement more dry than humid, so the dehumidifier will be going on as soon as possible. The other chick related thing is that we think the Australorp is broody again which is a good thing, though we aren't sure. We'll see.
The one problem we're having with the already outside chickens is how far they're roaming. We found them 220 yards from their house, down at the base of the driveway by the high way. That's an awful long roaming radius! It's also within only ~50 yards of a red fox regular range that we know of. We're a little concerned we're going to get hit again by the fox, but right now it's really advantageous for us to let our flock roam, it's kept the ticks somewhat in check which is important this time of year. It reminds me that one of the things I was told by a friend who also does this for ethical reasons is that he doesn't free range chickens because one of the inevitable things with free ranging is that you are going to lose chickens more than if they're in a run, and he can't take the trade off of the number of losses vs. the chickens enjoying roaming as much as they do. So far, we can't give enough space for me to even consider the choice. The reality of losing some chickens is part of why we're increasing the space to have more hens. The other obviously being to be able to sell or trade eggs more.

The last thing to bring up for today is that Twilight and her brood have been getting nibbly it seems! I noticed this hole in the hutch that wasn't there last week on Saturday. I grabbed some scrap wood that has been lying around to do a quick repair with. I am amazed at just how fast they got through the boards working out from a simple crack that they must have just worked through over a few days. The patch should hold them for now, but I'm going to be keeping an eye on them more closely for the next couple weeks at the very least. This is the first time I've seen major chewing that has threatened the integrity of keeping the rabbits in the hutches. I'm going to be doing a close walk through later this week or this weekend to make sure I'm not missing anything, and re secure some of the wire that's gotten loose in places. Hopefully by next Tuesday I'll have good pictures of the fully framed out new chicken coop, we'll see what the weather allows.

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