The snow is melting, helped by the rain. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m ready for it to go.
Our chickens would prefer no snow too; they don’t like walking in it.
Here are a bunch of photos of the chickens in the snow, from yesterday and today:
One week later, this is all that is left:
And today, it’s almost all gone:
That’s why we don’t let the chickens free-range outside their run!
This past weekend I built a doorway and gate to make it easier to go between the veggie garden and the chicken run. Something I do a lot, especially in summer, when giving the chickens treats of kale, tomatoes, etc grown in our garden.
Here’s the new doorway, built by adding the new left pole and top plate, cutting away the fencing, and cutting out the horizontal rails:
I also moved the grazing box in the chicken run, to clear a path by the door. The chickens love having direct access to the grass, which will probably be all scratched away in a matter of days. I’ll seed new grass in the new box position in spring:
Building the gate frame; the fourth and last one:
Door hardware installation:
The completed gate, closed:
I added a hook & eye to hold the gate open during winter:
I also permanently closed the small holes through the fence that the chickens were using to access the veggie garden, so now they go through this doorway.
That concludes building the gates for the veggie garden and berry cage. Next up: replacing the old fencing wire around the berry cage.
It’s been a few months since I last posted photos of our chickens… so enjoy!
Buffy enjoying some kale from our veggie garden:
Silver (and some others in the old run):
Kiwi, Merida (chicken butt!), Camilla, and Domino:
Buffy and Merida:
That’s not all of our chickens, but the less shy ones.
Believe it or not, we have more than just feral cats at the homestead, despite them being a popular topic of my blog posts.
We also have chickens, and I recently did a minor repair of their grazing box. This is a wood and hardware cloth (wire) cover over some grass, to enable the grass to grow without being pecked to the ground by the chickens. They can nibble on the tips that grow above the wire.
Some of the wires had come loose at one end:
So I snipped off that panel and replaced it with fresh hardware cloth, nailed down with U-shaped nails:
Here’s the whole thing:
Just a simple little repair.
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:
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:
View from above (hard to see the netting; it covers the entire top):
Easier to see here:
Today I crossed another couple of little chicken projects off my list.
Firstly, I built a poop tray — a nested tray to collect the poop chickens release overnight while roosting, to make it easier to keep the coop clean.
Here is the outer tray, which features an opening at the back (towards us) and a welded wire screen to keep the chickens out:
And the inner tray, with a small opening at one end to enable scooping out the waste:
They fit together like this within the coop, accessed via the poop door:
Both could be removed if I want to sweep out the entire coop. But typically just the inner tray will be pulled out to clean out, without exposing the whole doorway:
Here’s what it looks like inside:
Next up, I built a grazing frame — a structure with a hardware cloth screen on top. We can plant grass or other fodder inside the frame, which will grow up through the wire, so the chickens can eat the tops without destroying the entire plant. (Given an opportunity, chickens will turn any amount of foliage to barren dirt in time, by scratching and pecking plants into oblivion.)
The chickies are intrigued:
This morning I finished the new chicken run fencing, and installed the automatic pop door opener (with a little help from Domino), enabling the chickens to access the run:
The opener is mounted to a small door, so it can be accessed from inside the coop:
Here’s the pop door open for the first time, much to the chickies surprise:
Outside the coop, the opener is behind a window, so the light sensor can work:
And a close-up:
Chickies peeking out of the pop door:
Unsurprisingly, our bravest new chicken, imaginatively named Merida after the Pixar movie character, was the first to leave the coop to the newly fenced chicken run (YouTube video):
Followed by Domino:
And a few others:
But some weren’t yet brave enough:
Good thing it was a bit cloudy this morning; once the sun came out, they were all much more reluctant to leave the coop.
Over the last few mornings I’ve been attaching 14-gauge welded wire fencing to the chicken run framing:
The lower course flares out a little below ground level, to prevent animals from digging under the fence:
A close-up of a U-shaped nail (for once nailed by hand, instead of using the air nailer):
I cleared out the run, in preparation for chickens gaining access soon:
And added a little temporary shade: