Chickens

It’s been a few months since I last posted photos of our chickens… so enjoy!

Buffy enjoying some kale from our veggie garden:

Kiwi:

Silver (and some others in the old run):

Kiwi, Merida (chicken butt!), Camilla, and Domino:

Goldie:

Domino:

Buffy and Merida:

That’s not all of our chickens, but the less shy ones.

Berry cage: holes & materials

Yesterday I started work on a new construction project that I planned a month or two ago: a berry cage in the vegetable garden.

We have a large fenced veggie garden, with multiple raised beds. Some of the beds include blueberries, strawberries, etc, which are targets for birds. Plus we let our chickens into the veggie garden after we’re done with it in fall/winter, so they can clear out the foliage and weeds. But we don’t want them grazing the berries to the ground.

So, I’m building an enclosure: a fence to split the back four beds of the veggie garden from the rest, a wire roof to keep out birds, and gates. This kind of enclosure is commonly called a berry cage.

I started work on this project by measuring the positions for the poles, cutting the fabric on the ground, and hand-digging out the top gravel layer:

I then used my earth auger to dig the holes, about 2′ deep:

Thusly:

I also dug to expose the pipe for this tap at the back of the garden, as it will be moved. I’m going to put a new gate there, to make it easier to get from the veggie garden to the new greenhouse:

Here’s a view of the back part of the garden. The holes in the foreground will be where the front gate of the berry cage will be:

This morning, I received the delivery from Home Depot of the materials:

Several rolls of welded wire fencing, a heap of 8′ and 10′ posts and boards, and gate hardwire:

A closer look at the lumber. The big untreated boards are for a new garden bed in the berry cage:

Stay tuned for construction progress. Next weekend I’ll re-stack this lumber (I need the posts at the bottom first!), cut the back gate, and start installing the posts and beams.

Should be fun.

Cat update: the door experiment and food error

This past week the cat house had an experiment with their front door, and a feeder malfunction, among other things.

But first, a historic event: all five cats inside the shelter at the same time. I haven’t seen this before; the most I’ve seen is four at once:

Here they are all outside:

The next day, one of the cats (probably Spud, that scamp) was playing with one of the thermal mats in the shelter. These have foil or something inside to reflect the body heat of the cat, helping them keep warm (in addition to the heating pads on the bottom level). So they make a fun crinkle noise when moved:

He pulled it down to the bottom level:

So I decided to screw them down, so that wouldn’t occur again. Just one screw and washer for each so far, though I may add another later.

While I was there, I also started an experiment to see if the cats could figure out the front door. When I built the shelter, I installed cat flaps on the front and back. The front one is their main door, and the back is an emergency exit, so they can’t be trapped by wildlife. But to encourage them to go inside, I have a bungee holding the door open (visible in this construction post). Now that they’re using the shelter every day, I thought I’d try removing it, so the door is closed. That’d keep it warmer inside.

But they couldn’t figure it out:

The door had a couple of magnets holding it closed, to stop it flapping in the wind, which also made it harder for them to open. So I removed the bottom magnet, to make it easier; the weather stripping around the edges still holds it closed well enough. I even propped it open with a stick:

While that worked to get Porcini to go inside, as soon as the stick was knocked away, the door of course swung shut, and she acted trapped. After a minute, she figured out the door, and exited:

But then she and the others went back to acting like they couldn’t get in. Even pathetically peering in the windows:

I felt bad, and relented. The next day, I put the bungee back on the door. Maybe I’ll try again another time, or maybe I’ll just accept that they don’t want a closed door. Even in their small old shelter, they pulled the back door flap off, and almost always went in that way, rather than the front door.

If they were pet cats, I could train them to use the door by shoving them through a few times. But that isn’t feasible with ferals. They had a strong drive to get inside, but couldn’t figure it out.

But they’ve forgiven my experiment, and are happy to be back inside:

And snuggly:

Another interesting thing this week was a malfunction of the automatic feeder. When rearranging things in the feeder cupboard, I had accidentally unplugged the feeder. It has a battery backup, so kept working, but after a few days the battery got too low during a breakfast feeding… and had a strange failure: instead of just stopping, it continuously dumped portion after portion of food, ending with a huge pile:

Fortunately I saw this happening on the camera, so went out there to fix it. I plugged it back in, and scooped up a bunch of the excess food.

A few hours later, I captured some video of the cats playing on the deck and awnings:

Did you watch my Cats Playing in the Sun video on YouTube? Check it out!

Apparently I didn’t scoop away enough excess food, as there was still quite a bit left that evening… but fortunately no raccoons or possums visited, so the cats got to enjoy midnight snacks:

Yesterday, Porcini and Spud had a difference of opinion (Porcini wanted to sleep, Spud wanted to play), resulting in a bit of fighting inside:

But as usual, things ended peacefully enough, after Porcini put Spud in his place.

Another screenshot from my iPad, showing cats in all four cameras. This time, the shop cat is Pepper, the fluffy black cat that sleeps in the front of the shop, and just comes to the back to eat:

Lastly, some cute snuggling from this morning:

Tune in next week, same cat-time, same cat-channel. 😸

A more secure world

I’ve just added a SSL certificate to the yellowcottagehomestead.com site, like all the cool kids are doing nowadays (even though this blog doesn’t really need it, other than to avoid scary warnings by some dodgy browsers). Go secure!

Chicken grazing box repair

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.

Cat update: stretches, snacks, strangers, sunbeams, snuggles

Happy #Caturday!

I have three cameras constantly watching our outdoor feral cats (plus one for the shop ferals), and I review the recorded footage each morning to see if there were any issues, and let’s face it, to capture pictures and video of them being cute. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. I often end up with hundreds of pics each week. This past week, I count 96 photos and videos.

But fear not, I wouldn’t subject you to that much cuteness. You’ll just have to make do with the following 22 hand-picked selections.

First up, enjoying the deck of the cat house:

Enjoying a good stretch inside:

Last Sunday the food dispenser ran out during breakfast. Porcini came up onto the deck to let me know (though I already knew, since I had been manually dispensing food via the WiFi-connected food dispenser):

She watched me refilling it from a safe distance (might be hard to see; look above the rock in the center of the picture):

Hail:

A bit of play-fighting:

Portabella brought a snack home; a mouse or vole:

Which wasn’t dead, so gave a couple of them some fun chasing it around the house:

Some disappointed visitors; the alien gray cat:

And a raccoon:

Breakfast rush:

Did you see the YouTube video that included that, and all five cats at breakfast? I’m not a professional video editor, and usually don’t bother adding a music track, but I did do some basic editing, transitions, and titles. I just use Apple’s iMovie app, which is very basic in what it can do, but good enough for me.

Back to the pics. A sunbeam through the window:

Sun on the deck:

Big yawn:

And stretch:

Three cat snuggle:

A screenshot from my iPad, showing cat(s) in each of the views. The upper-left camera shows the inside of the workshop, where two other feral cats live; this is Pansy:

More snuggles:

Another screenshot, this time showing all five cats; four in the shelter, one eating:

Breakfast queue of four cats, keeping out of the rain:

Pretzel stretch:

Yet more cute snuggles:

That’s it for this week!