Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's up, Chickens?

So I got some chickens today.

Scratchin' at the ground
Chicken Brooder... I am the mother hen.
They have discovered.... WATER!
Aww look she's standing in her food....and probably pooping in it too...

Yes I got chickens... though that is not to say that I am completely prepared for these chickens. However, they are awesome. I am not completely prepared in the idea that I don't have a coop built. Not all the way. But, it is partially built! Check out the progress:

Initial frame for the bottom, using salvaged Axle and wheels
These are the joints I used for stability: cut away a 2x4" sized notch in a 4x4, then drilled through both and cinched a carriage bolt to hold it all together. In 12 different places. There is no torsion going on in the frame
base with floor and initial walls
With framing
Close-up of beginnings of nesting box, where eggs will be laid.

If that's not a good start, I don't know what is! I have decided I'm going to be using plywood to complete the sides and use see-through corrugated roofing, and some windows we have laying around for additional light. I WAS going to be using salvage wood from around the farm. I'm concerned that: 1) the wood is not of high enough quality to last that long and 2) It would make the whole structure too heavy to move, and the salvaged tires would buckle under the weight.

So I'm using plywood Sheeting (Actually Oriented Strand Board, it's cheaper, for now, at home depot) and going to paint it for weathering purposes. The nesting box will be completed with a hinged top to allow access from the outside, so that I can snatch them without having to duck into a 4' high coop. With any luck, I'll only have to go into the thing to give them water and food and clean it. So pretty much all the time anyway. However, being able to sneak in and swipe the eggs from outside is going to help, because chickens, as I've read and not experienced, can get a little protective of the eggs and not want you to take them. Its called getting broody, which is a natural process and makes their biological laying mechanism shut off, which we don't want. Cause we want EGGS! Glorious, nutritious, delicious EGGS! Blue Eggs! Brown Eggs! White Eggs! Eggs of all color and creed! Momma didn't raise no Eggist! Judge not by the color of the shell, but by the contents of the albumen!

Anyway, where was I going with this? Ah, yes, that's right, other things around the farm. Well, today I woke up to another wonderful snowfall. No folks,  Idaho didn't listen to Punxsutawney Phil, Buckeye Chuck, or Susquehanna Sherman for the prediction of an early spring in 2011. Idaho is bending its superstitiously meteorological ear more in the direction of Balzac Billy. I promise that link is safe for work...

As it turns out, I took some time clearing out the back of the barn so I would have room to build the chicken coop, which meant taking scrap metal to the recycling center and getting paid for it. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me! So here are some pics of what the barn looks like now in certain places. comparisons:

So, I put up wall board on that wall (after the "Middle" Picture), and stacked all of the things that were obviously painted International Harvester Red, John Deere Green, Ford Blue, or CAT yellow against the wall... turns out there are a lot of tractor parts in my shop. Hopefully we find somebody who knows what they're supposed to be used for, and maybe we can sell them to somebody who can use them. Lots of Packrattin' going on at the farm. So with the pile of scrap metal gone, I had room for a lounge:

Before, not so lounge-y
TOTAL LOUNGE FEST! check out that sweet overstuffed chair...

I ordered my seed for planting, and got that in the mail last week. I'm still getting together my starting materials, like soil and blockers and stuff. oh! Blockers! That's right. They're this cool little thing. You don't need any peat pots or any plastic trays, the soil holds together by itself in a "block" of "soil" if composed correctly. I'll be using my own compost for part of the starter soil mix, so I'm excited to try them out. I figured I had to spend the money on either trays or these blockers, and so I decided on the soil blockers. I got them from Johnny's Selected Seeds, recommended in Eliot Coleman's book the New Organic Grower. We'll see how it works out.

The goats have still not had babies. Their bags are all bagged up (Can I even SAY that on national internet??), and they are GRUNTING. My goodness, these goats need to just get it over with. I'm sure they would if they could. I'm just ready to have goats to do this:

In other exciting news, I went to a beerfest with my cousin in Pocatello (First year ever! First thing I've done off the farm in about a month and a half!) and completely ruined myself (oh yeah, Josh, you still owe me $25!). With all this weight loss and NOT drinking beer regularly, I couldn't handle it. Buzzkill when I have to go to bed at 9PM because I get home and can't stay awake. No joke. It was nice to have a Manny's though. Georgetown was the only WA brewer to make an appearance, I appreciate that.

So I'm looking forward to a few things happening in the next few weeks. Friend Gina is coming over from Portland, Oregon to visit during her spring break from Nursing, we'll have plenty of fun, cold, wet, farm activities to do. Plus chickens! And at the end of March, I'm heading over to Seattle for another trip to act as a pretty good guy in friends Toby and Shannon's wedding! Wheeeeee! (They're buying me a tie, I'm excited). Some things I'm expecting to do while over in Seattle; cabin time. One of my favorite places to be. I'll be visiting my former co-workers still desk jockeying it up at the computer place. Also, any and all friends I can possibly see. Its been too long, I hope you all know that I miss you dearly.

-Jon E

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