July 5, 2009

Alternative housing

I did my best to educate myself on chicken-keeping when I decided to get some laying hens. But, this being my first time dealing with poultry, I made some mistakes. The biggest one was getting different breeds of hens: Barred Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Astralorps and Auracanas. I thought they would peacefully coexist, but they don't. Chickens are not nice birds; they are sharks in feathers and bigger hens beat up on smaller ones.

The Astralorps, solid black chickens and the smallest hens in the flock, are taking the brunt of the Barred Rocks' beaks. Most of them defend themselves best they can, but there is one, very tame, black hen who just gets hammered by the bigger birds. I have taken pity on her and given her "vacation days" in the tackroom while trying to figure out a better arrangement without having to resort to making her a "pet" chicken.

Dan came up with a great solution today: repurpose one of the garden boxes and make that Annie's home. We covered it with some plywood to provide shade and some protection from the rain, and added food and water. She is outside, with her friends in the chicken yard, but no one can beat up on her.

As for the strawbale house, lots of progress is being made. The doors and windows are in, electrical wire run and the ceiling has been insulated. The powder room is framed in, and the only other wall will be framed shortly. It is going to be a great house!


Emily said...

This is great! My boys have just met their first chickens and expressed extreme shock that my aunt had them wandering about the yard. I think the exclamation was "People really have chickens?!" They were going to get to gather the eggs, but they chased the geese and they lost the "privilege". Today is cow riding :) What an education they can get in two-weeks on the farm!

Anneke said...

How wonderful that your kids get some farm experience! I am a city kid, but spent vacations on a farm in Austria (great memories).
All young persons should find out where their food comes from and should get in touch with the natural (as opposed to computerized) world. Kudos to your aunt who insists that animals should be treated with respect.