Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wide Open Spaces

In an attempt to make further amends for the upset to their world, Sean and I worked for an hour and a half yesterday night to disassemble the temporary goat kid pen in our back yard. We decided to repurpose two of the 10x10 chain link panels that were in excellent condition to extend the size of the main chicken coop yard.

By adding the panels on opposite sides, we were able to give them an additional 200 square feet of green yard. The response from our feathered friends was unanimously positive. They immediately swarmed to the new grassy area and started scratching and searching for bugs. Even knowing that the grass would be decimated within a few days, it was wonderful to watch them clucking and having such fun in their expanded pen. And, again, we wished that they could just roam free, but that would be dangerous and fatal for them with threats of neighborhood dogs, wild predators, and the other enemies to watch for.

Our main coop is 8ft x 8f x 8ft. The yard measures 600 square feet of space.  It is currently inhabited by 2- American Buff geese, 8- Mallard ducks, 6- Black Swedish Cross ducks, 11- 2 month old pullets/possible cockerel mix, 10 hens; 2 of which are sitting on nests in the boxes, and 2 Americauna roosters.

From the side view, you can really see the difference in yard cover. We have to add fresh hay every couple of days for the chickens to play in and the ducks to build nests in. We will still have to do this even with the expansion. When confined to an area, fowl are very hard on the land.

I am pleased with the area we now have, but as always, it is a work in progress. The master plan calls for the geese and ducks to be located in a separated area with a HUGE pond for them to play in. But, it is finishing the barn that must take the priority for this year. It seems that the chickens are pleased with this new space, too. After getting only 4 eggs from the coops for the past 2 days, we collected 7 eggs today. No where near the 14 eggs we had been collecting, but hopefully, this gain continues and we will be back in business.

This weekend, Sean and I will be working on repairing the fencing for the horse paddock. If we have the time, we will also try to work more on roofing in the barn. Another project on the docket is to start sheathing the lower portion of the exterior wall of the milk room. The goat kids have been moved into the pasture and are in with Momma Ellie. We are hoping that their nursing will help to get her milk production up. It had declined to only 1/2 quart of milk at her milking times. We thought that keeping her with the kids for a few days might stimulate more demand and thus, more milk. Since the milk room is merely a framed out shell, if we sheath the lower part, Ellie can sleep there comfortably and safely at night. We can milk her first thing in the morning and then, move her to the main barn and let her remain with the kids all day. It is not a perfect plan, and it cuts down the milk we collect, but we should still be able to collect enough milk for my cheese making experiments. That's the hope, anyway.

Well, that's where things stand right now. We're still hoping the chicks in the incubator hatch out this weekend. And, we snuck a peek at a couple of  the eggs Broody Barred Hen is sitting on and they are looking really good; lots of movement and good sized air pockets. And, in a surprise result, we candled a couple eggs under Broody Wyandotte and were pleased to see development inside those eggs, too- though they are not as far along as the other nest. Still, things look likely. We'll keep you posted.

Thanks for visiting us tonight.
Sonja ♥


  1. I am so glad your chickens are happy again!!

  2. That's so great that they have some grass to eat! Until they destroy it all that is, haha. I don't free range my chickens either, but occasionally let them out to range in the evening when I can keep an eye on them. They go crazy over the grass!

    The things we do for these animals! :)