30 April 2009


This was the scene at the feed store yesterday. The hatchery delivered this week's orders and everyone received a phone call advising them their chicks had arrived. The smallest box contains our little gang.

We've got six different varieties of chicken making it easy for us to keep track of who's who. They've been christened Edna, Marge, Patty, Selma, Lisa and Maggie.

Meg was pretty interested in the new chicks. She promised not to catch any, but we don't believe her so she'll be supervised closely around chickens for a loooong time.

28 April 2009

The coop scoop

Construction on the portable chicken coop started last week. The project began a few weeks ago with ordering the plans and buying the materials. As is customary with this kind of thing, the initial measurements and cuts took a while as the builders settled into the groove.

The floor of the coop had lots of fiddly cutouts.

As a result of the cautious start and tricky cuts, this was the progress by late afternoon of day 1.

The construction crew at work on day 2. Progress went faster as the apprentice mastered her tools.

Another helper was never far away. Meg supervised and comfort tested.

The sides of the coop are removable for cleaning. This picture shows the finished coop with one side removed to show the interior. There is a nest box at each end, a roost in the middle and a ramp (shown in the up position) which is operated by a pulley arrangement from outside.

This is the completed coop with the sides on and ramp down. There are doors on each end to access the nest boxes on top and the run on the bottom.

The doors and sides are secured in place with carabiners and slide latches. The idea is to foil the local raccoons without foiling ourselves. We tested our security measures last night by leaving an empty but unwashed can of puppy food inside. So far so good.

Meg recruited another quality control tester to assist in the final inspection. Passed.

Today is hatch day for our six chicks. Tomorrow we'll wait for a call from the feed store to tell us they've arrived and we'll go and pick them up. We've got a brooder all set up in the basement (a cardboard box filled with pine shavings with a heat lamp suspended over top) where they'll spend the first few weeks of their lives. On nice days once they're a bit older we'll bring them out to free range in the safety of the coop's run. Once they've fully feathered out and the outside temperatures are consistently warm they'll move into the coop full time.

03 April 2009

No wonder the puppy is nervous outside at night

I found this lovely artifact of a coyote meal not far from our driveway. Given the sheer volume of deer in the area and the frequency with which we hear coyotes yipping or howling or see their scat, it's not surprising that we'd find something like this close to the house eventually.

I have to say that although I find amputated limbs to be not particularly pleasant, I'm definitely on the side of the coyotes in this life and death struggle. The deer are so numerous they're destroying the forest by eating every green thing they can reach and not allowing regeneration.

There is a local rumour that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources released 5 cougars in the area a few years ago to help control the deer population. The rumour is that this was done secretly to avoid the inevitable public outcry such a thing would cause. Almost everyone around here knows someone who claims to know someone who has seen a cougar.

For my own sanity while standing outside with Meg while she does her thing outside after dark, I'm going to assume that the cougar rumour is false. And I'm going to assume that any coyotes would find me to be sufficiently imposing that they wouldn't want to mess with my puppy.


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