Chicken Coop Upgrade

We have had chicks in the basement in a box that fit them just fine when we first got them, but they’ve grown quite a bit in the last month. They’ve got plenty of feathers now, so it was time to put them outside (plus, our basement was starting to smell like a barn). In order to make the transition, I had to build a new house for them inside the coop. It could use a coat of paint, and come spring it will need a few nesting boxes, but it’s a big improvement over the last one.

After a day out in the new coop, I will say that the concept of ramps is a pretty complicated one for a chicken brain to wrap itself around. Or maybe they just like to stay close to the heat lamp. Hopefully, they’ll figure it out soon and learn how to scratch around for worms. Either way, Bob Dylan is happy for the company out there.


The Chickens are Laying Again!

Alicia texted me this morning while I was out saying “2 eggs in the coop today”, which is exciting because they haven’t laid since October or so. Maybe it was that huge full moon last night. When I got home Robbie and I went out to collect the bounty and pose for this picture. By that time there was a third egg, so spring has officially arrived.

(Note: Right after snapping this photo, Robbie decided to drop the eggs on the ground, and one broke, so we’re back down to 2 eggs.)


Vacationing on a Farm (in Hawaii)

Dispatches from Paradise Volume 1

We’re spending a couple weeks in Hawaii doing a housing exchange (not to brag). Word is that it’s still pouring in Seattle, so we’re not missing much, and I’m not worried about the garden burning up. Naturally, my first question upon arriving here in Maui and seeing the red clay soil was, “I wonder how well you can compost here.” It seemed like the natural solution to the hard, arid soil, but that’s just me, I suppose.

We are staying in a house with a big lot (over an acre, I’d guess.) And a view of the ocean (not to brag.) There isn’t much in they way of gardens here (besides a pot of basil on the deck) but it has two things going for it in the farm department:

1. Fruit trees – Tangerine, banana and papaya trees on the premises. We’ve had a few tangerines so far, and there are some ripe papayas that apparently we can pick with a bamboo trimmer. (They’re pretty far up in the tree).

2. Livestock – There is a flock of 10 or 12 chickens, from a couple months old to laying hens. Plus, the big bonus, 2 sheep that look like goats. They are a little bit too friendly at times (see the photo below; they think they own the table on the deck.) Our morning routine consists of feeding the sheep (Robbie is kind of getting the hang of it), letting the chickens out to forage, and refreshing their water.


Feeling the Heat

This just posted on the Seattle Urban Farm Co-op listserv by Dave:

Here’s an interesting bit of chicken lore: Did you know that chickens can’t taste pepper heat? That’s right! You can feed a chicken a fresh habanero pepper, and it won’t even flinch. Lizards and chickens are alike in that manner.

Just in case you were wondering…

Written by dan in: Chickens,Food | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Battle Rages On

We got a couple new chickens the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and I have to say it was a pretty ill-advised move considering the blood-thirsty raccoons that were still roaming the neighborhood. I spend nap-time the day before (if you don’t have small kids, that being my only free time of the day) completely securing the chicken coop. Or so I thought.

We bought the chickens at night — or something like night since it gets dark at 4 pm these days — and so we put them straight in their house and closed it all up. Much to my dismay, the next morning, there was evidence that a raccoon had indeed infiltrated the coop that night. Fortunately, the chickens were locked in their house and were safe, but it was a close call nonetheless. So I patched up the places where the defenses were breached and instituted a 4 pm “bed-time” for the hens.

The next day I had to teach all afternoon and evening, so Alicia was going to put the chickens to bed, as we call it. Her email to me explains it best:

“We need to do something about the chickens.  It took me almost 30 minutes to catch them and made Hannah cry (I made her help me and kept getting frustrated).  Our back neighbor came over and basically said the raccoons keep coming back and messing up his yard and they are coming because of our chickens.  We have to kill those raccoons.  What we have now is not a viable solution. I am sure the raccoons will be here in a matter of hours and will probably find a way in again.  Eventually they are going to get the latch open on the coop and kill these ones too.”

My response to her email was pretty classic:


But then I decided to take her seriously (especially when she said the neighbor saw four raccoons on the coop the night before). So the next morning I called the fine folks over at Critter Control. Bob showed up with two traps, marshmallows and cherry puree for bait, and a plucky “Let the trapping begin.”

And let me tell you, leaving out marshmallows for raccoons seems to be like shooting at the side of a barn, because in the morning, both traps had captured their prey. Two down, who knows how many more to go. Bob said the record for a yard was 33 captures. (And all you left-of-left whiney Seattle liberals, present company included, don’t have to worry, because Critter Control brings the animals to a forest and does their best to reunite families once they’re captured.) While we were waiting for them to come pick up the two traps, the mother raccoon kept coming back to check on her trapped kids. This was kind of heart-breaking, but only a little. Hopefully she’ll get caught and be relocated to her kids’ new forest home.

And the upshot is, we still have two chickens that are alive.

Update: I just went outside to empty the kitchen scraps in the compost (10:14 pm) and there are two more raccoons trapped out there.

Written by dan in: Chickens | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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