Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five farm updates

I finally got a day off when it's not raining, so naturally I spent part of the afternoon outside with my camera. Here's five things going on around the farm:

#1 is the chicken coop expansion! :) We started with 9 chickens in a 10x10 coop last February. Three of those tuned out to be roosters (we sold one, kept the other two), and the other six were hens. The 10x10 space we had prepared was just perfect for them. But... since we decided to let Miss Loretta hatch some chicks to increase our number of laying hens, the space we started out with will just not be big enough in a few more weeks when the chicks are grown and eventually move in with their aunts. So, we decided to expand to a coop that is now 10x30, and my chickens officially have a larger room than I do! We came up with a pretty neat solution that allowed us to keep the 10x10 structure we already had, and just made a trap door that can be raised and closed from outside the coop to allow the hens into their new yard. This lets us to still keep the hens really penned up in their fully enclosed coop if we need them to be (to let the grass grow back in the yard, or keep them safe from predators at night), and still gives them much more space to scratch around and really feel the sun on their backs since their coop is in the shade most of the day, and their new yard is full sun. We added field rocks around the bottom all the way around to help keep the girls from becoming something else's dinner, and still have a few other minor things to do like cut the tops off the posts before it's completely finished. The first photo below is the barn with the coop when we first built everything last year just so you can see the comparison. The rest of the photos are how it looks with the expanded coop! 

 The door into their new yard is on a neat little pulley we just had laying around, and allows them to let them in and out.

#2 is our new and improved feed station. I am one of the most organized people you will find, and had to come up with a solution for the feed bags we originally had just sitting in the floor of the barn. I knew that was just a free for all for mice (there's only so many mice a one-eyed barn cat can catch) and other bugs, so I bought rubbermaid style tubs with snap lids and Dustin got the shelf system from his work. It was an old plant merchandiser they were just throwing away! Nothing like getting something for free that we could really use. I labeled everything with what it was, and also who gets that food. These labels really satisfy my OCD for labeling things mainly, but will also aid whoever is helping out in feeding the animals when I have my surgery in a little over a month. Another important item on the top shelf (those big blue containers) is enough water to last the animals several days without power (since we have a well and no power = no water). 

#3 is an update on Miss Loretta's chicks. They are growing up so fast, with almost all their feathers in now, and are just a few days shy of 8 weeks old. These little guys have learned to roost and are super sweet and climb all over you any time you go into their coop, wanting to get close and see what they can eat off your clothes (they think Dustin's pearl snap buttons are the coolest things!). 

#4 is ducklings are on the way! We thought we got rid of our male duck so that we would not have anymore ducklings.. but, one of our last set of ducklings turned out to be a male before we realized it, and we now have two broody mama ducks on nests! Each has a nest of about 10-15 eggs that they are sitting on and fussing over 24/7. I am pretty excited to see how many ducklings we end up with, and we have plans to sell them because our duck enclosure is full. If you know anyone needing/ wanting a great breed of duck send them our way! 
 Mama #1 on her nest.
A rare glimpse of nest #2 I got when she finally left to go eat her dinner. 

#5 is a healed up Beyonce! If you read her bio, you know that Beyonce is our one-eyed barn cat. Back a few months ago, I went outside to leave for work and saw a horrifying sight. She was sleeping on top of Dustin's truck like always, but all I could see was a horrible black hole on her face. I screamed for Dustin to come out and go look at her because I was truly scared that she was disfigured and hurt beyond repair. Luckily, and grotesque as it was, it was only her eyeball that was injured, and after a costly trip to the emergency vet (of course this happened on a Sunday) and surgery to remove the eye, she was as good as new! We never will know what really caused the injury since we didn't see it happen, but the vet assured us it was not a puncture wound from a chicken which made me feel some better. She truly is a tough kitty cat, and the reason she was given the name Beyonce in the first place was because she came here with a sister cat that was unfortunately killed in a car engine :( So, with her being the only survivor (title of that Destiny's Child song) she became Beyonce! 

This has shaped up to be a pretty eventful spring so far, and with starting our garden, ducklings on the way, and more projects than we can keep up with in the works, I'll be updating soon!