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4.18.2011

Life on the farm

It's been a mildly challenging few days here on "the farm," as I have insisted on calling it lately.  Because, by my definition, we are now a farm.  We have livestock.  Now I just need to come up with a cute name for the farm and erect a sign by the driveway.  Any suggestions?
The coop taken from outside the door- see, it's pretty small.
Anyway, the new chicks came on Thursday around noon.  Just as the winter storm started to roll in.  When I went to pick them up it was about 38 degrees out with 30 mph wind gusts.  Great day for brand new baby chicks (or not).  And my plan was to put the new babies in the coop in the brooder I set up- I was originally going to have the new chicks inside in the dog crate and move the bigger chicks to the coop, but as I saw the 7 older chicks grow quickly I realized that the 22 new chicks weren't going to fit in the dog crate.  And, as I was fixing up the shed I realized the shelf that I was building to expand the floor space in the coop would also be a great brooder, all it would need was a removable front.  And I'll need a brooder or some sort of isolation eventually.  Moral of the story, the chicks were going outside.  And I wasn't 100% sure the brooder would hold a temp overnight with the wind and low temps.  I put up an extra heat lamp and checked on them like 20 times the first night (brrrrr....).
The new chicks in my temporary brooder/isolation pen.

But everyone made it through the night.  10 cornish cross broilers, 6 barred rocks, and 6 ameracaunas/easter eggers (not sure which, but they were sold as ameracuanas).  Grand total chickens- 29.  One less than the limit imposed on me by the township.

And I've finally realized that my coop is going to be too small.  I "knew" it before, but I was in denial because I couldn't come up with a solution.  But as I was cleaning up the yard last week I realized that, now that the HUGE pile of brush from the HUGE fallen oak is gone, there is room for a small chicken yard next to the shed, and there just happens to be a small door on that side of the shed.  So now, in addition to the 5,000 other projects I have to accomplish in the next six weeks, I am going to build not one but two chicken yards and build a predator proof enclosure in the shed (I don't want to use the whole shed, and I know that the shed itself isn't predator proof because there is a ton of evidence of animals coming and going as they please).  I'll keep the meat birds in there and the layers in the existing coop.
My Garden- not quite ready, but all the ground it turned so you can see the general size.
The amount of time I've spent cleaning up the yard has also giving me time to ponder other projects- placement of fruit bushes and trees, whether or not I want a bee hive (yep, still thinkin' on that one...), where I want to put a greenhouse someday...  But I'm glad to know that a week or so of hard work hasn't killed my motivation- it's only fed it!  So now that the storm is over and it's sunny out (cold still, but sunny...) I'm off to work on the garden more.  I've settled on digging in partially broken down leaves with my rototiller (while breaking up the turned over sod) and then adding a 75% garden soil 25% compost mix that I've lined up to have a guy deliver in the next few weeks.  So for now I need to get the sod broken up and the leaves dug in.

Of course, there seems to be no hurry to get things planted.  We just had another inch of snow the other day:(  Thankfully, the only thing planted in my garden, eight strawberry plants, were covered and seem to have fared well.

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