Ranch life update: the dirty birds.

Hello. It is day 37 of our captivity ….with the birds. At this point, they have lived in a cardboard box, a large tote, two large totes, and now they are living inside a pen with a tarp under it.

It won’t be too much longer until they can move out to their cute little coop full time, but until they get all their feathers, they can’t stay out overnight.

But, while inside, the ducks make bubbles in the water, flinging it everywhere. The chickens fly out of the pen. I’ve found two plops of poop on the floor, one of which had been ground into the rug, which I thought was in the “safe zone”.

It’s white. of course it is. There is no safe zone. The guest room’s gone to the birds.

Speaking of poop, they do it a lot.

Probably my biggest complaint is what I’ve been referring to as, “the chicken dust”. It is a layer of dander, feathers, fuzz and just…what seems like dust. But from the birds. It is grossing me out. And no, it’s not just “regular dust”, I’m not an animal. THEY are. It is covering everything in that room, which is filled with my great grandparent’s (as in: family heirloom/antique) master bedroom set. But, without a garage, that’s where they had to go and that’s where they’ll stay for a bit longer.

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The “chicken dust”. You can see where I set my phone down to draw that smily face. Blech.

The coop is looking good, and they do spend a lot of the day in there. Brian planned out, and perfectly executed his plan for a little chicken door.

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We set up an electric fence so that they can roam in the yard and be safe from predators. Obviously, we’de love for them to roam completely freely, but that’s just not possible out here.

We let them out into their fence shortly after setting it up, and the naughtiest of the chickens, who B and I call, “StacyTracy” (because we can’t tell Stacy and Tracy apart) just hopped her little self right through the fence. Last week, wicked little StacyTracy scratched the dickens out of my finger. Think like a papercut , but x10.

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So, the fence does shock you if you touch it, and will keep predators away, we hope. But for now, they’re still too small/too naughty and can’t be left out there alone. You can see the nesting boxes well in this picture. We made five, one box for 2-3 chickens, so we have room to grow our flock.

Here they are watching, while we were finishing up the coop.

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The fence is easily moveable, so once those chicas start laying eggs, we’ll rearrange it so that we can get into the nests. We built the nesting boxes so we can open up and grab the eggs from the outside.

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While I do complain about living with chickens and ducks (Joey and Chandler would never have actually enjoyed living with two full grown birds in an apartment. I know this now.) I do also realize the sweet memories we’re making for the kids, and ourselves.

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A sweet boy and his duck, Dumpling. (Every.pair. of his pants looks like that.)

Getting chickens and ducks, building a coop, living with birds, and one day collecting and eating fresh eggs are another adventure for us and part of our big plan to embrace the “country life”.

While I am a clean person, living with dirty birdies, even I can see the value of this phase. I am looking forward to those eggs ….and the hella deep cleaning I’m going to give that room in a few weeks.

Always, thanks for reading! I love that you’re here for another adventure! -Steph

Chickens….and an accompanying impulse buy

We got the baby chicks! AND, drumstick…errr…drumROLL please, we also got ducks. After lots of researching for the best breed of chickens for our family, we tossed (not literally) two ducks into our cart like an impulse pack of gum.  I’m exaggerating slightly. Think you’ve got us figured out? Think again. Months of research AND a last minute decision. We are so unpredictable.

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Spoiler alert: the ducks are a mess. They are fuzzy, and cute and fun and…so nasty.

They like to wash their food down with water. Translation? They turn their water into a sludge that needs to be changed out several times a day. That’s not even mentioning the duck drool and dribble they drip from food trough to water dish, soaking the whole brooder. Ick. Cute, fuzzy, messy little ducklings.

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We call this one, “Dumpling”

While we are still working on completing the coop, they are living in two boxes under a heat lamp. They can’t move into the coop until they’re about 4-5 weeks and they won’t start laying for about 6 months.

We started them out together, in a large cardboard box, but the ducks grew exponentially that first week and it got crowded. Plus, they were being pretty rude roomates by pooping their giant poops everywhere, amidst their drool and dribble. Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time until they got evicted.

We now have them in two plastic storage type boxes, with the light between them.

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As for the coop, we’ve completed, and painted the nesting boxes, cut a chicken/duck door, painted the human sized door and started screening everything in.

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We used the same color on the coop door as our yellow house door. (Pittsburgh Paint “Stormy Ridge”)

 

 

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We are using hardware cloth around the bottom and as a skirting to protect against predators. This step has been the most difficult so far, but it’s important to get the hardware cloth secure to ensure your birds will be safe inside the coop.

We’ve heard that chickens are the “gateway” to all things “farm”, or “homestead”….time will tell, I guess. For now, I know some kids who are pretty pleased with their new pets.

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Thanks for reading! -Steph

 

 

You build the coop. The chickens will come.

So, let’s not make this awkward ok?! I haven’t blogged in many moons. 4 months to be exact. Pretty much the entire winter. We’ll call it blogbernation (blog hibernation). 

I’ve been meaning to spruce up my blog, so that it would have a new look for 2018. Well, it does have a new look….deserted….but also improved! I transferred all my posts (and added a handy search feature) and got my own .com! 

It is now offically ready for 2018, and more adventures for the Smiths. 

Thanks for coming back! I’m happy you’re here to read about our latest adventures. 2018, here we come!

We recently began our next project, and it’s a big one…..We’re getting chickens!

We have been researching a lot: raising the chicks, breeds, types of eggs, and how many to get, coop size, where it should go, and how to set up the fencing. We had decided on 12 chickens with 3 hens from 4 different breeds: Americaunas, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and Barred Rocks. To decide, we gathered lots of info by listening to podcasts (that’s Brian’s territory), reading blogs, and checking out books from the library. (I enjoyed this one.  )

With that information decided, we knew we would need a coop 8 X 6, with 5 nesting boxes (you need one nesting box for every 2-3 laying hens).

I won’t attempt to include step by step instructions, there are lots of helpful blogs out there that do a better job of that than I could do. (Backyardchickens.com has TONS of coop inspiration and plans.)

BUT, I would love to share with you what we’ve done so far!

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The foundation

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Starting some nails for us
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Playing while mom and dad work on the coop.
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phase one: the frame is complete!

I’ll keep everyone updated on the coop and the chicks, and as always, so glad you’re here and thanks for reading!

Steph