Wednesday, 26 August 2015

I'll do my side and you do yours!

So should you have taken it upon yourself to pop in for a cup of tea and a chat you would have found us outside by the vegetable garden, Lester and me having decided that enough was enough and that the Chicken Hut was now the top priority on the list of 'Things to Do". Why?

- They need to be got out of the courtyard because the chickens we hatched in our incubator nearly six months ago are growing really well, which is good. There are fifteen of them, plus the five adult hens that we already had, plus PegLeg who has a poorly leg but still manages to live a reasonable life. So, twenty one chickens. A good number, yes indeed......but not right outside the front door. Oh and I forgot to mention the six geese, who go out of the courtyard during the day but are in over night. Their poo is rather on the large side, and is the dog's favourite, with chicken poo being their second. The dogs need not to eat all this poo. Why? Because it comes back up either as sick or out of the other end as in doggy poos, both of these eliminations from either or both ends being mostly done at night. To

- They need to be got out of the courtyard because these twenty one chickens are making a lot of poo, which is not so good, especially when they lay siege by the front door in the hopes that I will appear with some tasty morsel of food for them, which doe not happen that often during the day, but they wait anyway, and poo while they wait. Having to sidestep the various piles of poo is becoming tedious.

- They need to be got out of the courtyard because Lester is now milking Lissie in the evenings. Lissie is not particularly fussed with having to share her udder with him and Flora, her young calf. To soothe her along, Lester gives her a bucket of special cow food, which she loves, diving her nose into it, tipping the bucket sideways so she has the right angle to get maximum mouth fulls.

Unfortunately the chickens like to hang out in the cow pens.. It is their special place, or so they think. They also like to rake about in the straw and hay for little bits of this and that to eat, which is alright if what they are eating is fly lavae, which reduces the adult fly population. It is also alright if they are eating morsels of grain which escape onto the ground as the cows eat.....better that they eat it rather than the rats.

However, it is not alright to eat the grain that the cow is eating at the same time as the cow is eating it...... as in trying to get into the bucket at the same time as Lissie is eating from it. Last night a cluster of young chickens tried to do just that at the same time as Lester was milking her. It was too much for Lissie, and she threw a bit of a hissy fit. Lester didn't want to do battle with her, and since he was satisfied with the two litres she had allowed him to have anyway, he did a tactful retreat. Milking time is going to prove a difficult exercise if the chickens insist on having their share of Lissie's grain as well. They have to be got out of the courtyard if all is to be reasonably calm at milking time.

- They need to be got out of the courtyard because some of them roost in the fig tree, which is alright at the moment because there is plenty of leaf on it so they have good shelter, but it will not be so good during the winter when the leaves have dropped and they will exposed to whatever the weather throws at them. The rest roost on a saw bench which belongs to a friend. It is covered in droppings. It will have to be cleaned off. It is a job no one is keen to do. Also there is the possibility of something coming over the walls of the courtyard and taking a chicken or two away with them. It has not happened so far this year, but ..........

- They need to be got out of the courtyard because I want to tidy the place up. Chickens are cute, funny, have different personalities, and lay eggs. Where are these eggs? We do not know. One a day is all we are finding, and now I am having to buy eggs from the supermarket. We need to organize those chickens so they lay eggs where we say they should lay them, and not where they will think they will, which at the moment must be where the dogs or blackbirds or magpies or the local courtyard snake can find and eat them (do snakes eat eggs?).

 - They need to be got out of the courtyard because I would love to put the washing on the line without being mobbed by chickens. I would love to show my face outside the front door without being mobbed. I would love to come and go out of the house without worrying about either stepping in chicken poo or bringing chicken poo into the house on the bottom of my feet.

There!!! So that is why the chickens need to go somewhere else, re: The Chicken Hut Project.
Now this has been ongoing for over six years. First we used a curved piece of tin as a temporary chicken hut, which was alright for a while, and then most of the chickens we had then abandoned the hut for the fig tree, after which most of them got eaten by foxes.  Not to worry, we got more chickens and carried on, but  the Chicken Hut Project retreated down the list of 'Things To Do'.

No more! The chickens must have a proper home......... and here you would have found us this morning should you have thought about calling in...


...out back. And you see that tall mass of greenery to the left? It is a bramble hedge, and very thick and vigorous one it is too. This is where the Chicken Hut is to be. So, first step......


....... this hedge needs to be cut down. And if you look really hard you can see a glimmer of light in the other side of the hedge, and this is where the front garden is. Lester is on that side. I am on this side. He starts cutting on his side, I start cutting on mine. The aim is to meet in the middle of the soon to be cleared area.


Two hours later and the brambles are getting thinner, and the scratches on my hands and arms are getting more....actually they weren't because I had taken the precaution of putting a long sleeved jumper on, which was sensible in one way because my body remained untouched by bramble thorns,  but silly in another because we have high temperatures again, and I roasted up a treat with so much clothing on. Not to worry, I have been scratched to pieces at other times of cutting the brambles and this time I wasn't, so I have told a wee small fib, which I shall call 'poetic licence'........

Oh, so, anyway, we pushed on......


.... and the ground became clear enough for me to be nearly walking on these stones, which I avoided doing today because of snakes. I have already mentioned the courtyard snake, but there are several other snakes around as well, not forgetting the one that got eaten by the chickens after Lester shooed it out of the house. The very look of these stones suggests that something might be living amongst them, so today I avoided walking on them. It was lunch time anyway, so time for me to stop work. By the way, these stones are where the base of the Chicken Hut is going to go.

Last photo of the day, and we nearly have that patch of brambles cleared.



Lots more to cut though, but at least we have made a start. What will we do when we aren't tripping over chickens, or standing in chicken poo, or trying to find chicken eggs..........

Bye for now.....

Vx


11 comments:

Dawn McHugh said...

It all sounds like good reasons for a chicken house to me, I would have lived to see the milking fiasco on video :-)

Vera said...

DAWN, yes......it would have made a funny video, but I don't think Lester would have let me post it up on the blog as he does not like being the subject of a photo shoot, and anyway, although I have my camera for a year I still don't know how to take videos with it!

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, yes snakes will eat eggs as long as the can open their mouths wide enough. Make the chicken house big enough so you can put up roosting ladder and feeding & watering area. I'm sure you knew that but I figured I would mention it anyway. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

minwks said...

Hi Vera, I can imagine that sometimes you may briefly reflect that you may have undertaken too much. Most of the time I am sure you feel healthier and fulfilled by all your undertakings.

Í do enjoy dropping by from time to time to see what you have been up to.
We have just returned from a month on the water in our small boat in northern BC Canada. Many sightings of Orcas, grizzly and black bears, deer and dolphin. Seafood every day included crab, prawn and fish. Now back to my bumper crop of tomatoes Etc as well as a look into our 3 bee hives.
Do lust after a cow and also chickens but alas not in this lifetime it seems.
Husband off to Amsterdam via Paris to look at canal boats next Thursday.

Thank you for sharing your life with us.
Regards Janine

John Gray said...

Vera, do the young chickens go near the pigs
I lost a load that way.... My sow ate them like smarties xx

Vera said...

HORST, 'roosting ladder'.... was going to do that in the new hen house, plus nesting boxes of course. As for feeding and watering, we are going to make an outside area for that....but, hey, how are you? Hope you are well and in good spirits. Vx

JANINE,...you are right, there are many times when we feel that we have indeed taken on too much, but now the house is getting more organised everything feels more do-able. And oh wow! How fantastic to have seen those wild animals, and a canal boat! Your life sounds very exciting. But you never know what is round the corner...at the age of fifty, if you had told me that we would have cows, pigs, chickens, etc...in my late sixties I would have never believed you!

Thanks for popping by, ....and enjoy harvesting all those tomatoes.

JOHN, no, the chickens are away from the pigs, although when the new chicken hut is done they will be closer, but any young chickens are going to be put in a separate run until they are big enough not to be eaten by predators such as magpies and eagles. I do love the way you are able to paint such graphic pictures just by the use of a few words...I am still chuckling about the toilet rolls knocked down into an unflushed toilet by two mad terriers chasing a bird!

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, I'm doing well and I have a little job driving vehicles for dealerships, all over Alberta (the province I live in) and sometimes to other provinces. I work up to 3 days a week (gives me something to do). I forgot that your climate in France is a lot better in the winter than Edmonton winter weather (re: the feeding and watering in your chicken barn). Have a great weekend.

DUTA said...

The reasons for a chicken hut are very well explained by you. It's a must project. Good Luck to you and Lester with it!

My Life in the Charente said...

A chicken house sounds like a very good idea to me. When my Mum had geese in the garden she used to throw a fit when they were on the verandah and trying to get into the house. The poo around was one thing and slipping in it was another!!! Take care Diane

Kerry said...

Still haven't taken the plunge to have chickens, but we're very tempted to have ducks. We are spending so much time sorting the house and garden, I don't feel we have enough time to dedicate any to animals yet. Maybe one day x

Vera said...

HORST, I am so pleased that you are out and about because this means that you must be recovering from those operations. As for location...we are on a parallel with the Mediterranean so we do not get the fierce winters that you get, thank goodness. Glad you are feeling better.

DUTA, the chicken project is top of the list and will stay that way until those chickens are out of the courtyard!

DIANE, ah, the poo, and the slipping factor it produces!

KERRY, best to take your time about what animals to get in, although we found ducks messier that chickens, and had more attitude, especially the drakes!