Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mobile Chicken Coop and Garden Update

Two weekends ago we finally got around to making a more suitable summer home for the chickens.  The chicks were quickly outgrowing the brooder box they were staying in and we had to pull something together soon.  Charlie and I went to buy lumber and wire mesh, then recruited Charlie's father to help out.  That weekend we got a basic frame and the walls for the coop put together, but we ran out of time.  Charlie had to go out on the road for work and the chickens would have to wait another week.

Last weekend, we recruited Charlie's father and nephew to help finish up the project.  I mostly just painted the coop and helped attach the wire mesh and then stayed out of the way for the rest of the time (I supervised and worked in my garden).

The guys did a really nice job on the coop.  We didn't have any coop plans, they just started building it.  I think the only thing we regret is that we didn't make the floor of the coop raised off the ground.  We are worried that the wood will get soggy when it rains.  Other than that, it came together quite nice.  We extended the mesh on the floor of the coop, but not all the way in.  I wanted the chickens to have some room to scratch around without wire under foot.  Hopefully it is still enough mesh to keep predators out of the pen.  

The guys made sure that the coop is as secure as possible.  It has two doors that I can open to get to the food and waterer.  In the photo below, we used a large rock to keep the pen door closed for the last week.  This weekend, Charlie added latches to that door too so I don't have to keep moving that rock.  We have padlocks on all the latches.  Predators are going to have to really work hard to get into this coop.

We moved the ladies into the pen last Sunday night and they were a bit scared at first.  By morning, they were exploring the pen and enjoying the feeling of grass under their feet for the first time.  They love eating the bugs and grass and are thriving with all the extra space.  

My garden seems to be doing well this year, but it feels like it should be progressing faster than it is.  We are already one month past the last frost date and the only thing that I have been able to harvest are a few peas, some lettuce and some radishes.  I guess I got a bit of a late start on getting everything into the ground.  I have been doing pretty good at keeping the weeds picked out of the garden -- so far.  

The item that seems to be doing the best of all my plants so far is an heirloom pumpkin plant.  I had bought an heirloom pie pumpkin at a farm stand last year and saved the seeds instead of roasting them.  The pumpkin cost me less than a packet of seeds would have cost.  

I've also spent a good amount of time weeding my asparagus beds and adding more soil to them.  Last year the weeds took over the bed and I was worried I'd never get it under control.  Well, it is under control for now.  I'm hoping the asparagus will be strong enough next year to choke out any weeds that try to intrude.

Here is a photo of some radishes that I harvested yesterday.  This variety is English Breakfast.  I love the coloring on this variety.
I should get going for now -- I've got house cleaning to do and I need to feed and water the chickens.  I have to work Monday and Tuesday (23 hours between both days) then I have the rest of the week off.  It is my birthday next week and I am treating myself to some time off of work.

1 comment:

The Weekend Homesteader said...

Good job on the chicken tractor. We started out with a chicken tractor a few years ago, and now that we have a coop, we use it to quarantine any new chicks or hens and to let the rabbits get some exercise. It has been a great investment for us, multi-funtional.