Monday, March 11, 2013

Chicken Run

Two Christmas's ago we bought our daughter some chickens.  We thought it was a good present and would save the house being filled up with plastic toys that I would eventually stand on.

We started with four and have lost a couple and have bought a few more.  Our surviving chicken from our first batch is Buffy. She is a black Pekin Bantam who may be small, but rules the chicken coop with an iron claw.

Buffy has a tendency to go clucky. She will sit in the nesting box all day sitting on the other chickens eggs. One of the solutions was to give her some day old chicks to look after.  So we went and got five.  Two of them were large Buff Orpingtons and three Pekins.  Buffy was happy with the chicks when they were sitting under her, but as soon as she saw them she started attacking them.  We had to raise them.

About two months ago I realised that one of our chicks Ben - was a boy and not a girl and it was more evident when he started to crow.  Boy he may be small, but he must have little man syndrome as he is loud.  Each morning I cringe when he starts crowing. Every morning he is getting louder and earlier.  When he was crowing there was another crow after it. Firstly I could not work out what it was until one morning I let the chickens out and Fred one of the Buff Orpingtons let out an awkward crow, not to dis-similar from a boy whose voice is breaking.  So not only did we have one rooster, we now had two.

At the moment we are living on a residential block while the house is being built. To say the backyard is small is an understatement and to say the neighbours wouldn't appreciate our early noisy risers is another understatement.  The only answers was to re-home the roosters, which is not easy to do and to move the chickens from the rental house to the block.

Three weekends ago we started, but the weather was not on our side.  There were two of the wettest weekends that we have had, but we got a small amount done and then last weekend we managed to finish it off enough for the new residents to move in.

We  started with 100mm x 100mm treated pine posts. They are 2.4m tall.  The wire is square 25mm mesh that is 1.2mm thick and 1.8m tall.  The posts have been dug into the ground 600mm and concreted in to stop them going anywhere.

The posts took a whole weekend to set, so the following weekend after another massive downpour we were able to put the mesh on.   The posts have been painted with a 'legal' non-toxic Creosote, which gives them the nice black colour. It will also preserve them for longer.

Another week later and thankfully we had a dry weekend so we were able to get the majority completed.  Wood top middle and bottom to make it stronger.  They are recycled treated pine 90mm decking boards from our old house.  They are stained at the moment, but they will be painted black to match the posts.

We managed to finish in one day ready to the chicken coop to be delivered so we could put the last of the wire on and bring over the new residents.

Our chicken coop is the kids old cubby house. They didn't play with it, so the chickens took it.  A fresh coat of paint yesterday and it is looking better than new.

There is still quite a bit more work to do to make it totally secure and fox proof and looking pretty, but at least it is secure enough for the new residents to move in. They seem to be enjoying it.

I think our neighbours must also be enjoying the rooster-free peace.

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