chicken tractor (the Tasty Shed annex)

We built this chicken tractor for the girls – very handy for when we need to do something in the backyard and need them out of the way; or if we want to give the grass in the backyard a bit of a break.
Features include:

  • Made from scrap lumber. All the black rubber bits (e.g. the handles and strap) are old bicycle tubes.
  • Half of it is shaded by burlap from old coffee bags (procured for free from a local coffee roaster)
  • Lightweight – can be moved by 1 person (although the size makes it easier with 2 people).
  • Folds up to be quite narrow – takes up very little space along the garage wall.

It’s always a big hit when the girls are in the front yard in the tractor and people walk by.

lead in soil articles

A couple articles exploring the possibility of lead in the soil around you home, which could potentially be consumed by your chickens:

http://www.portlandtribune.com/opinion/story.php?story_id=123801660877902600

http://blog.oregonlive.com/pdxgreen/2009/06/the_dirt_on_testing_soil_for_l.html

The Oregonain article had some useful resources in a sidebar that were not included on the page linked above:

Information on collecting soil samples:
http://www.umass.edu/plsoils/soiltest/soilbrochure2009.pdf

Interpreting your soil sample results:
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/ec/ec1616-e.pdf

Fly Control

fly_control.jpg

If you’re looking for a way to help control the flies, we highly recommended the Rescue brand traps. We tried another brand (seen on the left in the above image) and it was worthless – it literally caught 3 flies while the Rescue one completely filled up.

The can get pretty smelly as they fill up, but I think that’s part of why they work. Just be sure not to put them right near a place you’ll be hanging out.

We get them at our favorite local hardware store (Parkrose hardware), but they are available at amazon.com as well.

Moving Out

We kicked the little chicks out to the hen house on Sunday. At nearly 7 weeks old they are old enough to hang tough outside. Well maybe not that tough, they still need a heat lamp and they can’t stand up to the older hens just yet.
We divided the hen house in half with chicken wire, one half for the little girls and one half for the big girls. The heat lamp keeps the coop a toasty 60F for the little chicks. The little chicks are excited to be in the hen house. The big girls are not so excited to share their space…
The first night older hens just stood at the divider and squawked in protest. Torta even tried to peck at the chicks through the wire! We just let them squawk. I hope the neighbors didn’t hear the hens. We couldn’t hear them in our house so we are guessing the neighbors can’t hear them either.
Tonight the older hens flat out refused to even go in their house. I had to lure them in to the hen house with treats. Once inside more squawking protests. I suspect that in addition to the verbal abuse the older hens are stealing bedding from the chicks. The chick side of the wire wall is always sadly low on bedding while the older hens have so much bedding is it spilling out of the door.

Cleaned Out

I cleaned out the coop for the first time this weekend in preparation for moving the chicks in. DUDE there was A LOT of BEDDING in there – Four 55 gallon bags, two of them were nearly full. I was super glad we took the time to install the drop down floor. It made mucking out the soiled bedding very easy. And you know 6 month old poop and bedding isn’t nearly as gross as you would think it would be. It was a lot dustier than I expected and I was glad to have a dust mask handy.
Scott laughed at me when I pounded a sign in the parking strip “Free Chick’n Poop”. He didn’t believe that anyone would want the bedding mixed with poop. HA! The first bag was gone with in the 1st hour and the rest were gone before the 2nd hour finished up. The ad on craigslist had a lot to do with the speedy disappearing act.

Chicken Panel

I had an opportunity to be part of the chicken coop building panel at Chicken Fest 2008 at Living Scape Nursery on Saturday. There were three other coops on the panel. Each coop was very different from the others, there was a true green roof planted in strawberries, a converted shed, a hen house on sawhorses, and the Tasty Shed. It was great to see how each of us created such different structures using the same principals. I think it went well, I hope the workshop attendees thought it was helpful.

Adoration

Our good friend Ann is enamored with the chicks. There is no other explanation for her behavior. As soon as she walks in the door, she is over often, she makes a bee-line for the basement to visit the chicks.
Our neighbors love the chickens (and chicks) too. People pop by if they see that we are out in the yard with the girls and want to chat chickens. And once they hear we have chicks in the basement they want to see them too. I like that the chickens are a neighborhood novelty and people are interested in them. I like to think that the chickens will some how make our little block a little friendlier. Knock on wood…

So Long

It didn’t take long at all for me to find a good home for the chicks. I was very choosey about who the chicks went home with. The Barred Rock chicks and the bitchy-er Sussex went to a beautiful coop in St. Helens today. Their new coop is nicer than ours!
The two remaining Sussex chicks immediately relaxed and the constant din of peeps and squawks has ceased. Now I feel terrible that the chicks were feeling so stressed.

New Home ASAP

I listed 3 of the chicks on craigslist, the PDXbackyardchix list, and on the BackyardChickens forum. I am hoping at $5 each I will be able to re-home the chicks quickly. They really are cramped and I am afraid they may begin to injure each other. Fingers crossed for a speedy response.