Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hen Yard - Thanks To Dad and Grandaddy!

Sorry that we have been away or at least not posting lately.  We have been busy lately with our family vacation to Walt Disney World, a visit from my Mom and a visit from my darling husband's parent's and our niece, not to mention my darling's struggle to get better.  He is fighting a case of hives from the medication he had to take to get over the pneumonia that he came down with after visiting WDW (let's hope those are not related).  His immune system was further taxed with the physical labor of building new chicken yards for our flock(s), but we had to take advantage of his Dad's visit or wait for their next visit.  I can do a lot of things around here, but holding things over my head while my darling nails them together is not one of my strengths.

Our original chicken yard had worked for the year it was intended to last and allowed us to learn a lot.  First of all was that even though the top is enclosed with chicken (poultry) wire to keep out climbing and flying predators it also kept out the snow (long story) and eventually sunk in with the weight the day we got over 36".  We shoveled the weight off and lifted the wire roof back into place knowing with the next storm we would need to mitigate the snow load.  Thus, we swept snow off our chicken yard several times though the remainder of winter.

Secondly, we learned that the girls needed (really we just want them happy) a larger yard in which to safely wonder.  Lastly, we wanted to give them a bit of shade to encourage them to stay outside during the noonish hours (they always go into the coop for shade).


While we were considering how we would rebuild and improve our girl's yard we also took in two foster chicks from a successful school experiment that resulted in a hatch.  One of the chicks fell prey, but the other is now a 10 week old pullet named Goose (she is our only "pet" chicken with a name).  She was lonely.  I felt obligated to get her a few friends ... they pecked at her ... I wanted to get her younger friends to confuse the other friends ... we had been considering running two flocks ... we now have 28 additional birds to our foster pullet (I should have learned my lesson fostering children ... adoption ... loves of my life ... difficulty saying no to anyone ... making everything cook to order from scratch ...) and they all needed a home with a view.  Thus ...



Our new chicken yard is attached to the barn stall that is opposite of the one that was renovated into a coop last summer.  As you can see we made a few design improvements from the past experience.  The lower yard is likely to still build up with snow, but it is low enough to easily sweep off and reinforced for the times it snows overnight.

The big girls also got a nice little upgrade.   Their roof is made of greenhouse roofing to keep them safe from the elements and during the winter I will wrap a brown tarp around the walls below their roof keeping the upper portion of their yard free of snow build up and warmer for those brave girls to venture out.  The lower portion will still fill with snow, but I'll sweep it off and the sun's radiation normally melts that bit off every few days.

It was A LOT of work and my poor darling is still recovering.  (We are hanging the new nesting boxes today - my little girls will begin laying in a month or so)  I think the yeard look much better since my father-in-law was able to help.  I just couldn't figure out how we were going to get it done.  It was enlightening listening to my darling and his Dad make the plans and then build it.  A little like watching a barn raising - or at least how I imagine it to be.  Our whole family helped - niece to son to husband to mother-in-law.  I grew up the daughter of a carpenter, and there is something to working together as a family to see a project finished.  I remember being a little girl and helping/watching my Papa and Dad work to build an addition on to my Grandparent's house.  It is one of my happy memories.  I hope this project will one day be a happy memory for all of our family (as soon as my darling gets over those hives!!)

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