Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chicken Run

I didn't get any pictures, and it's dark now, but the chicken run is done!
Today started as a weird day. I went to put the chickens out and they refused to go in their tractor. Usually I can get them to follow me/breakfast and go in, but not today. They wanted none of it. Instead, they started scratching around excitedly all over the place. It rained all day yesterday, so I'm sure there were a ton of bugs and worms out. Eventually, they all piled under the coop (it's raised about 18 inches off the ground). We have it 70% wrapped with fence due to the design of the run area, so we trapped them under there with their breakfast and ran to town for some washers and latches to finish up their run.
During baby's one and only nap (only baby in the WORLD that refuses to sleep while sick), we got the whole bottom portion of the run fenced. We chose to fence it in two sections, a top and bottom section. So once the bottom was totally fenced in, and the latches were on the gate, we opened the blockade and let the girls out to roam in their new area. They loved it. While I tended to sicky baby and lunch and general household duties, Alann worked on the bottom edge of the fence. It was gappy in places, so we put dirt all around it and logs in some areas to hold it down, chickens in, and other animals out. Claire offered to "watch" Elizabeth for me, so I went outside and worked with him. (She did a pretty good job too, and would come out on the deck and tell us when Elizabeth pooped or needed something.) After a while, I tried to put baby back to bed. While she screamed for I dunno, half an hour, we started the top portion of the fencing. She finally fell asleep for like 20 minutes, and we got the rest of the top done. Alann went in (he was going to move the dog fence to a new area to rest the ground in places) and I started using some cage clips to hold the top and bottom pieces of fence together. It went fairly quickly. As I was finishing, he came out and told me he had been holding baby the whole time and had finally slipped away without her noticing. I felt fairly confident about the fence so I went in to tend the kids while he worked on the dog fence.
I would say the run works pretty well. No chickens went missing today, no one escaped, and they even put themselves to bed! I went out after the kids went to bed and they were all tucked in their coop happy as clams. Or rather, happy as very full chickens! I strung some fishing line crossing the top of the run as a hawk deterrent. I wanted bird netting, but haven't gotten any and heard this works too. I may add some CDs as reminders to duck my head and additional deterrents.
While we were working in the run, Alann found a huge ant nest. There was a hill of dirt in the run and we were using that to cover the fence bottom. He dug in and found a bunch of ants. The girls ate them. All of them. In about 2 hours. Some may have escaped, but they were in the same spot for 2 hours straight and kept coming over later in the day to double check. We also saw some new personality features in some of our chicks. The unnamed buff orpington was recently named Sunny by our neighbor girl. It's a fitting enough name and meant I didn't have to name her. She is a pretty bright yellow. Anyway, Sunny figured out pretty early on (even before the ants) that when Alann dug into the hill, he would uncover bugs. So she would stand next to him and politely wait for him to shovel out some dirt, then jump in and eat, then wait again. She followed him all around the run, just waiting for him to uncover more bugs. Later on, I was in the run, not uncovering bugs, and she was following me around too. So she is apparently the smart one and now equates people with food. Even though it was a lot of work, I had a lot of fun too working with and watching the chickens. And I am quite relieved that it's done. It makes life a lot easier. I can take them out to the tractor when I want to, instead of feeling like I need to every day so that they can get out and be chickens.

1 comment:

MamaKAS said...

Pictures! We want pictures!