Flock Friday for December 13

Some excitement with the chickens this week.

One of the chickens, Lola, was still outside when the pop door was closing:

Chicken outside when the door is closing

You may remember me describing her as the introverted chicken. She often hangs back, and on this occasion hung back too long, and got stuck outside.

I noticed her perching on the waterer when I checked the cams after I got in bed, so I got dressed again, put on a head-mounted light, and went out there to take her inside:

Lola on the waterer

Here’s me picking her up. I carried her out of the run and into the coop:

David picking up Lola

Another bit of excitement was that I opened the gate to the veggie garden, enabling the new girls to access that:

Opened gate to veggie garden

I also opened the hole in the fence between the two runs, so the old and new chickens can now mingle:

Opened fence hole

They are still laying eggs and roosting for the night in their own coops, though eventually I expect some will swap coops. Chickens are very slow to change.

A bunch of pictures of the chickens all together:

Chicken

Chickens by gate

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Let’s take a look at the ducks, too:

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

But we’re not done with the chickens: a few days later, Lola did it again, outside when the door was closing:

Chickens outside when the door is closing

Actually it turned out that there were three chickens outside this time:

Chickens outside

Chickens outside

I realized that the pop door controller was closing the door too early, before it was dark, due to low hanging branches of the tree by the coop shading the light sensor. So I trimmed some branches:

David trimming branches

The tree fought back, whacking me in the face; fortunately only lightly bruising me:

David

As usual, I left the cut branches in the run for the chickens to play with:

Cut branches

So far the chickens haven’t been caught outside again.  I have a daily reminder to check as it gets dark, just in case.

Misty pond, with the ducks heading into the house for dinner:

Misty pond

Finally, some shots of the hungry hummingbirds on the feeders:

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Flock Friday for November 8

It was an exciting week for the older chickens: once Jenn removed the potatoes and onions from the veggie garden, I was able to let the chickens in to help us clear out the remaining plants.

The newer chickens don’t get to participate yet, as I’m waiting for them all to start laying (so far only one is). But they have a large run for the four of them, and get daily treat deliveries, so I don’t feel too bad.

Here’s me opening the hole in fence:

David opening hole in fence

Here’s the hole, and chickens heading into the veggie garden:

Chickens heading into veggie garden

Chickens heading into veggie garden

Molting Merida — she is looking rather scruffy at present, as are several others. But don’t worry, it’s a normal part of their yearly cycle, discarding old feathers and growing new ones. The worst part is they stop laying while going through that; we’re only getting zero or one egg per day from all of the old chickens at present:

Molting Merida

Looking from the veggie garden back to the chicken run, and chickens heading into the garden:

Chickens heading into veggie garden

The chickens headed straight for the salad bar:

Chickens at the salad bar

Chickens at the salad bar

Chickens at the salad bar

A wide angle view of the veggie garden:

Wide angle of veggie garden

An empty chicken run; everyone’s in the veggie garden:

Empty chicken run

Every day when I do my morning rounds, the chickens come to the corner of the veggie garden to greet me:

Chickens coming to see me on morning rounds

Let’s take a look at the ducks:

Ducks

Gert shaking her head:

Ducks

The ducks again:

Ducks

On the bank by the duck house:

Ducks

I mentioned in my previous post that I waded in the pond to clean and start the fountain pump. Here are a few more pictures of the ducks from inside the pond:

Ducks

Ducks

Duck butts!

Ducks

Ducks

This picture was in that previous post, but I thought I’d include it here too:

Duck house

This morning, a heron landed on the duck house:

Heron landing on duck house

(I happened to be looking at that camera at the time, and headed out to the pond to get a better picture, but it saw me coming and flew off.)

Planting veggie garden

Jenn and I spent most of today planting the veggie garden.

We got 3 yards (i.e. 81 cubic feet, or 2.3 cubic meters) of 3-way mix soil (basically topsoil, compost, and other stuff) delivered to top up the veggie beds. Here’s Rory sniffing the pile while on rounds a few days ago, to give a feel for the size:

Rory by pile of soil

So my first task was to shovel that dirt into the beds:

Shoveling dirt

Dumping the dirt:

Dumping dirt

Meanwhile, Jenn was planting:

Cart and plants

Here’s the whole veggie garden, with everything planted:

Whole veggie garden

In the front-left bed, we have tomatoes and salsa ingredients:

Veggie bed

In the front-right bed, we have lettuce and kale (for us and chickens):

Veggie bed

The potato planters have seed potatoes; the boards and more dirt will be added as they grow up, resulting in many layers of spuds:

Potato planters

In the back-left bed we have zucchini, pumpkins, watermelons, and decorative gourds:

Veggie bed

In the back-right bed, we have onions and corn:

Veggie bed

Inside the berry cage, we have a couple of Hood strawberry plants (and will add more to this bed later):

Veggie bed

(Existing) blueberries:

Veggie bed

The first of a few hops plants:

Veggie bed

Huckleberries hiding behind the existing gooseberries and currants:

Veggie bed

Ever-bearing strawberries (these were existing from last year):

Veggie bed

Yet more snow

We got a couple more inches of snow this morning.

Beehives and trees with snow:

Beehives with snow

Berry cage with snow:

Berry cage with snow

The shallow (foreground) end of the pond is frozen, but the deep (back) half is liquid:

Half frozen pond

The back lawn covered with snow, with the brown gazebo in the distance, and the old chicken coop on the right:

Gazebo & coop with snow

The flag is snagged on a branch, with a little snow on it:

Flag with snow

Chickens in the snow

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:

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Berry cage: finished!

This post has been waiting for a few days to be published, since the blog has been busy with snow photos this week. Hence the lack of snow in these pictures. With the snow on the ground this week, it’s almost hard to remember what the place was like without snow!

I have now completed the berry cage project.

The last step was to replace the old fencing wire with the new, narrower gauge stuff.

So I started by removing the old wire:

Fence wire

I left the nails that were holding the old wire, so I could reuse them to attach the new wire:

Fence without wire

Here’s the berry cage portion of the fence without any wire:

Fence without wire

I could then add the bottom course of new welded wire. I also kept the second layer chicken wire at the bottom, which is to keep smaller animals like rabbits out of the garden:

Adding wire

Attaching the wire:

Adding wire

The bottom course completed. The wire curves out onto the ground, anchored by rocks, to avoid any gap at the bottom:

Adding wire

A close-up of the wire and nails after adding the second course:

Closeup

The door area, with the completed fence:

Door

The completed berry cage fence:

Finished berry cage

It is always very satisfying to complete a project. On to the next one!

First snow of 2019

Although much of the country has had lots of snow this winter, we haven’t had any… until now. Yesterday morning we had a brief dusting of snow, then overnight we got about three inches, with a forecast of more throughout the day.

Naturally, I took a bunch of photos while on my morning rounds.

Here’s the brown gazebo and trees covered in snow:

Snow on brown gazebo

The pond wasn’t frozen, yet anyway:

Snow on the banks of the pond

The flowerbeds, with the pond deck on the left, the brown gazebo in the distance, and the veggie garden on the right:

Flowerbeds under snow

The chicken coop:

Chicken coop with snow

As usual, the bird netting on the roof of the chicken run collapsed under the weight of the snow. I plan to replace that with welded wire, like the berry cage, but was hoping to defer it; now I guess I need to either repair the netting, or do the wire after all:

Chicken run

The welded wire on the berry cage held up just fine:

Berry cage with snow

The beehives:

Beehives with snow

The cat house, somewhat sheltered by the trees:

Cat house with snow

Berry cage: roof wire

Over the weekend I did a bit more work on the berry cage project: installing the welded wire on the roof. That will keep birds from flying into that area of the veggie garden.

Some of the chickens couldn’t resist perching on a ladder:

Chicken on a ladder

Measuring out the wire on the ground:

Measuring wire

I rolled up the wire again to take it up to the roof:

Wire

Having it rolled up also enabled me to nail the right edge at the same time as the left edge of the previous row:

Wire

A partially-installed row from below:

Wire from below

Completed, from above:

Wire done from above

Completed, from below:

Wire done from below

And from the other side:

Wire done from below

Next up, removing the old wire from the fence walls, and replacing with the narrower gauge stuff.

Gate between chicken run & veggie garden

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:

And open:

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.