Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Silly Egg Picture

These pictures were posted on Reddit.
Posted by Baator
Response by danthemanhan

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Beat the Heat, Chicken Chillers

Texas gets a little warm in the summer. While Doc and I are inside enjoying the air conditioned splendor of the Humble Abode, the chickens are outside getting a head start on roasting.

Frugal farmer that I am, I prefer to use failsafe passive methods to protect the flock. The first protection I added was a shade cloth to cover overly-sunny locations.
Shade cloth on the gate
 The cheesy PVC tractor got a shade cloth as soon as I tried to use it in the daylight. I eventually abandoned the tractor because I only had one water source in there. More about water below.
Shade cloth over tractor
I found silver-sided tarps that were just the right size to attach from the big coop to the run fence. With some wildly improvised PVC pipe and a lot of baling twine, the tarps kept out the rain and sun.
Elegant awning for only $10
Chickens pant a lot in hot weather and need to replace the water lost. To help them with their organic active cooling system, I provide multiple water stations in the main run.

De, Robin, and water, water, water
The black livestock dish was a wise investment. One chicken is smart enough to wade in there. The rest prefer to drink from the plastic waterer or the galvanized metal waterer.
Oreo demonstrates hands-free drinking technique

The chickens need water at all times, even at night. I sometimes have to replace fouled water three times in a day. I guess poo-water is the chicken version of lemonade. Oh yeah!

The flock also appreciates getting hosed down with cool refreshing water. Well actually, that is not true. They hate it with a fiery passion. Mr. Big hates it less than the others, but Buffy fairly smokes with rage when I reach for the hose.
Mr. Big fixin' to chill out
When my nephew shows up for his hopefully-annual recreational hard labor, I plan to have him paint the metal roof of the new coop. A coat of white paint on there will cut the coop temperature by 10 degrees.

Other people have made suggestions which I have not yet tried:

  • Install a mister system
  • Plant shade vines
  • Freeze bottles of water and set them in the run or in the water dish
  • Provide frozen fruit or frozen vegetable treats
  • Install a coop fan

What methods do you use to beat the heat?

Update: Tried freezing bottles of water. The adult chickens were not interested. The chicks initially ran in terror, then stepped closer for a look, and then finally lounged on and around it. Ah, the wisdom of youth!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Occupant in New Coop

The New Coop is done-ish.

I gave the coop a metal roof. I managed to put the last screw into it just as the rain started.
Roof installed in the nick of time
Doc and I worked feverishly the next day, enjoying the Texas sun and heatstroke. We completed the drip edge, hardware cloth, door latch, and run fencing. We decided to test the coop with one chicken. Jailbird Vo volunteered.
Vo enjoying her own private coop
We constructed a cheesy sliding pop door. The hardware cloth impedes the door and the pull string will have to be replaced with something better.
Dodgy Door
After some perfunctory exploration, Jailbird Vo pooped on the sand to make sure it was working. Then she settled in for the night on her mini-pallet roost.
Fancy roost
When we ventured out in the morning, Vo was still in the coop -- alive and well. This was at least partly due to the vermin trap being occupied by a nocturnal trespasser.
Pre-occupied vermin trap
We plan to put the poultry netting over the run ASAP so the chicks can have some elbow room.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Coop Progress Report

I need a new coop. The fancy brooder cage is getting really crowded. Packing the chicks into the cage makes me feel like a conductor.

Doc and I considered my construction skills, the Texas summer, and the urgent need for a new coop. We immediately hired a couple of likely youths to build a coop. They said, "Sure, we can do that in four hours". I told them I needed it done in two days. "No problem".
Off to a good start
I gave them the dimensions, helped them collect the scrap wood, and supplied them with tools. They assured me they knew what they were doing because their other job was building kitchen cabinets from scratch. I watched them carefully and learned a few carpenter tricks, like measuring.
Fancy tile backer cement board floor
After I came back from lunch, I checked on the young carpenters. Uh-oh! According to the plan the cement board should have fit perfectly with a single cut to add an extra strip. They had to cut the cement board in multiple places and nothing seemed to fit right. Did they check to make sure everything was square as they were building the base? Nah, that is the installer's job....

Next day, the plan was to put up the walls, roof, and doors. After much sweating and colorful language, they presented me with their "completed" work.
Looks pretty much like a coop
I paid them and we all went away wiser. *sigh*

Doc and I dismantled the most egregious errors and reconstructed the coop in fits and starts. We fastened the hardware cloth using screws and plumber's hanger tape.
Hardware cloth fastened over treated wood
We eventually enclosed the exterior with hardware cloth. Searching the barn, I found some ancient plywood that could be wrangled into a roof-like structure. Doc carefully guided me up the ladder and onto the roof. With much trepidation, I screwed the plywood to the rafter, actually making it into the wood, thanks to Doc's good eye.
A roof-like structure
By the time we stopped for the night, I was sunburned enough to have a slightly smoky smell. Doc's theory is that the "smoke" was actually my personal aroma made visible.