Chicken oyster & grit dispenser and run enhancements

Yesterday I did a bunch of relatively small projects for the chicken coop and run, as the last building projects for it (for now, at least). Namely to make an oyster shell and grit dispenser for inside, moving and seeding the grazing frame, building outdoor roosts, making swings, and adding logs. With all that done, I was finally able to put away the tools that have been living around the coop for the last several months. A very satisfying feeling to be officially done at last.

Here’s the oyster & grit dispenser; oyster shell is good for chickens to help make strong egg shells, and they need grit to help digest treats and such (they can find sand and such in the run to serve that purpose, but convenient to have it on hand if they want it):

Installed, between the waterers and feed tube:

Outside, I moved the grazing frame, which exposed some grass that had started to regrow… this is almost all gone now, a day later:

The grazing frame is now in the opposite corner of the run. I added some soil and grass seed, so before long they’ll have more tasty grass to nibble on:

I next built some roosting bars in the corner where the grazing frame was before:

It was met with approval:

A couple of chicken swings, which they could perch on to keep them entertained (not sure how successful these will be):

And finally, I added some logs and branches as additional entertainment and perch opportunities:

Outdoor kitty condo

I got a small prefab wooden shelter for the feral outdoor cats (mamacat and kittens), so I could feed them in a more convenient location, and have the food sheltered from the rain.

Paladin helped me assemble it:

Here it is set up on our front steps:

The kittens investigated it quite quickly:

Which fascinated Paladin:

I fed them next to it last night, to make sure they found the food:

Then this morning inside the top level:


Chicken run roof

Over the last several days, I finished off the new chicken run, fully enclosing it with a netting roof.

Firstly, I extended the fence between the two chicken runs, to be the same height as the rest of the new run fencing:

Then I installed poles and beams every 8 feet:

A beam over the roof of the coop:

One last escape by Camilla:

Poles and north-south beams done:

Started adding netting:

Buffy enjoying a perch on the ladder:

Adding east-west beams:

Foiled!

Done:

View from above (hard to see the netting; it covers the entire top):

Easier to see here:

Camilla the escape artist

The previously mentioned green eggs turned out to be being laid by Camilla, the Easter Egger. As mentioned, she laid her first few eggs in a shelter in the run, that I had added to give them shade. 

To encourage her to lay in the correct place (the nesting boxes inside), I removed those shady spots. But she didn’t accept that; instead she flew onto the roof of the coop (about 7’ up):

And instead laid in a spare compost bin just outside the run:

Sigh. I’ve had to let her back into the run several times, as the front of the roof is too high to which to fly. So I’m working on covering the run, so she won’t be able to get out.

In good news, we got a light brown egg from another chicken today… and it was correctly in the nesting box. I’m not sure who laid this egg, but at least she figured out the right place!

Measuring tree heights

Over the weekend I measured the heights of several of the trees we’ve planted over the past few years — something I started last year. It’s interesting to see how much each has grown over the year. Just looking at them, it doesn’t look like most of the trees have grown all that much, but comparing the actual heights, I realize that many have doubled in size in that time.

Here’s a picture of my spreadsheet:

Here are a few examples of the trees, in no particular order, starting with the Sweet Gum:

The “behind white gazebo fir”:

The field oak tree (“Thorin”), which is a cyborg:

The weeping willow:

The weeping cherry:

The field Leyland NW:

The coral bark maple:

A dogwood by the pool (which has been put away for the winter):

A row of leyland cypresses in the field:

Green eggs and him

This morning I found a couple of small green eggs in a shelter in the new chicken run. Likely either from Martha, the Blue Ameraucana, or Camilla, the Easter Egger. Our first eggs from the new chicks!

Of course, after all that effort building nice nesting boxes for the girls, the first eggs are outside. Hopefully they’ll figure out the correct place to lay.

In other chicken news, our new Buff Brahma chicken, Babe, has started to crow. So it looks like she is a he. We should have guessed when he developed the beautiful plumage, but we knew that he’ll be a big chicken, so didn’t think much of it.

We didn’t want a rooster, but it turns out we have one. He’s so pretty, we’ll probably keep him, unless he becomes a problem. The name still works — like Babe Ruth, ya know.

Kittens playing & nursing

A quick update on the feral outdoor kittens. Here are mama-cat and kittens on our front steps (sorry for the window reflections):

Still nursing: