The New (larger) Little Hen House

The New (larger) Little Hen House
Hen House

The (old) Hen House

The (old) Hen House
chicken coop

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Can Money Buy Happiness??

Ok.  Here I am again, ready to let go of the FB page(maybe for a day!)  a bit, and search my inner self deeply for the words needed to create this topic I've been debating about writing on for weeks now~  So, "Hello" again to all the previous readers, and "Welcome" to the new ones!! :)

I was deeply involved in thought the other day at work when someone said something that grabbed my attention.  You know those times, when you're concentrating on accomplishing some task and "wham!", you are totally brought out of it by words that you catch someone saying, but you were barely listening in the first place. Those words were, "If someone says that money cannot by happiness, then they obviously have never had a puppy."

I had never heard this before! Ok...that statement changed my mind a little (just a bit), about money.

Having a dog, I could relate. But, being a person that raises chickens, I immediately thought the same about my hens.  How many times in the last couple days was I brought to a smile when 12 of my 14 hens followed me around the yard.  Or the day I found that tiny little immature egg amongst all the large ones. Yes, they made me happy too! Oh..I did pay money for my chickens.

I must admit, I spend a few dollars on my chickens.  Tractory Supply Company is one of my favorite stores.  The feed, the feeders, the waterers, scratch, scratch blocks, hay, DE (diatomateous earth), traps to catch the critters that kill them, all this costs money, my friend.  But honestly, it's not quite as hard to hand out my hard earned money for these things, as it is for lets say, our property taxes.

I've discovered that happiness is aquired by many things, situations, and thoughts, each of which depends on the attitude we have when we acquire them.  Seems everything can have a negative or a positive side, depending on how we look at it.  Maybe it's about choice.  I choose to look at raising my hens in a positive way, it's work sometimes, but it's happy work.  I smile when they greet me in the morning to feed them. I talk to them as I gather eggs during the day, or pour fresh water in their pan during the winter, that I've hauled from the house.  On one hand, this could be a lot of work, on the other, not.  This choice I've made to make this a happy circumstance helps balance me.

But, back to the money.  Does it really buy happiness? Can money by feelings?  Let's not go there.
If we look at money as the reason we have the things in this life that we have, and we are happy with our lives, then maybe yes is the answer.  I don't know about you, but money isn't the REASON for my happiness.  I am happy because I am loved, and I love in return.  And because of this, I am able to choose things in life that make me happy, keep me balanced, and yes, sometimes do cost money, like my chickens or my dog.  Take a walk in the woods, lay on a beach, smell the flowers, or feel the warmth of the sun on your face.  Those alone, give us plenty of reason for happiness.  Those and love.  And chickens.  :)

(After I wrote this, I asked my husband what he had in his life that made him happy, that didn't cost him money.  It took a while for an answer, but what he said was "Happiness".)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Midnight Glance

It's been awhile since I've been outside late at night.  I haven't taken the time for several months to just ly on the grass and watch the stars, or catch glimpses of the fireflies as they twinkle across the yard and field.  So, last night, about midnight, I decided to go sit outside and discover the night.  I carefully opened the back door, so as to not make any noise that would scare any wildlife away.  I sat down on the top step with my flashlight and listened carefully.  We used to have this great big yard light in the backyard that would brighten up everything around the house and more.  It was so bright that you couldn't even see the stars.  Maybe that's why I haven't been out recently.  Well that light burnt out last month.  And lately, I've been wondering if any nightime visitors have decided to come closer in to see what interesting or delicious things are available for the taking.  I am speaking of animals of course, and not the human kind.  At least I hope no one is out there.
The first thing I heard was an owl off in the distance, actually two of them.  They seemed to be communicating with each other.  I wondered about all the little mice or other small rodents that roamed the ground, and if they sleep at night or do they hunt too?  I bet they were all tucked in their nests for the night, safe from the keen eye of those owls.  So, what where the owls hunting for? Squirrels and chipmunks maybe?
Suddenly I heard this grunting and scratching sound.  About this time, my eyes were starting to adjust to the light. I thought I saw some dark shadows over by the big maple tree with the bird feeder hanging on it.  Yep, those shadows were moving!  I turned on my flashlight to find two adult raccoons right underneath the tree.  They looked up at me, their eyes glowing in the light.  But then they went right back to eating.  They'd scratch with their front paws at the bird seed on the ground, then start eating the good seeds they dug up.  The light didn't seem to bother them at all.  Then, I heard another noise.  Sounded like a piece of wood fell on the ground in the shed about 50 feet away.  I aimed the flashlight over towards the chicken coop.  There it was, another raccoon, this one a bit smaller than the other two.  It froze for a couple seconds in that beam of light, but then went back down on all fours and started walking around the screened in chicken run.  We do have a live trap in that shed by the coop, but we didn't set it that night, don't remember why, but I knew I wouldn't here the snap of the trap when this little guy/girl got near it.  I thought for sure this raccoon was going to look for a way inside that chicken run, so I kept my eye on that one.  It walked around the screen into the shed and back out again to the back of the garage where I had thrown some watermelon rinds for my chickens.  It ate for a bit and came walking up in the yard, getting closer to the back porch.  All this while I was still shining my flashlight right at it. We have been working on putting up some fencing lately, so our tractor was standing right in the back yard.  I lost the raccoon for a couple seconds as it walked underneath the tractor and came closer towards me.  It kept looking up at me.  I was amazed that it didn't react at all to the light.  I was moving around also, making sure the beam stayed focused on this creature.  This one was smaller, must be a young one from the two adults by the feeder.  Those two must have noticed me because they walked away earlier.  Again it glanced up, staring straight at me, it's eyes turning yellow in the light.  It slowly climbed up on the large rock which borders the brick sidewalk that leads up to the porch.  It was only about 8 feet from me!  It crossed the walk and went underneath the stairs I was sitting on.  Ok, all I needed was for this coon to jump onto one of the steps right next to me and then start to defend itself.  I resisted the strong urge I was having to get up and go to the door.   Soon, it walked out from underneath, across the brick patio, and over to the bird feeder it's parent were just at.  It found what it wanted and started scratching the ground with it's long sharp nails.
One morning, a few weeks earlier, I woke to find one of our bird feeders on the ground and broken, and the hummingbird feeder taken apart, red sugar water all over the porch, and the rest of it laying about.  We knew it was a raccoon, had trapped that one, and set it free a few miles away.  But now, here we were with a whole family of them!  Part of me is really irritated because now we have to trap ALL of them and move them, and who's to say they won't come back?  Another part of me really enjoyed what happened here tonight. I've missed this dark, kind of secret life that takes place when no one is usually looking.  What is it about these raccoons that kept me captivated tonight?
I went through a period last week when I was angry at nature.  A fox had killed four of our chickens that we had worked hard for, and spent money on to raise healthy.  They were just about to start laying eggs, in fact, one was already laying.  So, we are working hard building a fence to keep out the fox.  But can't raccoons climb fences?  The chickens are locked in the coop at night, so the raccoons won't bother them then.  But, will they come out during the day?  Another issue to work out.
 Nature will do what nature does and animals will always look for food to survive.  And I guess my chickens sometimes look like a delicacy to some.  And the bird seed is dessert to others.  So, I still must do what I can to make it safe for the chickens, but at the same time not get in natures way.  I think I can manage that.
I'm so glad I came out for a midnight glimpse of Mother Nature at work.  Maybe now when I hear a bump in the night, or my dog starts barking, I'll have more of an idea of what it may be, again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Move In Time!

Well, the time has come.  The coop is finished (except for the outside run), and it was time to make the "big move".  For any of you who have transferred grown chickens from one coop to another, you will understand what I thought would be an easy transition. 
I was so excited to show the hens their new home, and never gave it a second thought that they may have a hard time leaving the old one.  Sunset came, we left the small chicken door open on the new coop, and closed the door to the old.  We had the girls in the new one that day, showing them around, watching their body reaction for signs of approval.  In fact, they did lay eggs in the new boxes that day!  But, that came after three hours of each chicken, going from one nest to the next, feeling around, two of them joining in one, moving in circles around each other for a spot.  Finally, I left them alone and they did their duty. After the sun set, they were still running in circles around the old coop, looking for an opening.  My heart hurt watching it.  Some of the run was still covered in plastic, and one of the Plymouth Barred Rocks was in between the plastic and the fencing, looking for a way in.  I couldn't take it anymore!  So, I opened the door to the old coop and they ran in to take their roosting spots. After they settled, we opened up the back, and one by one, we carried them into the new coop.  The first night in their new home.  Would they be able to sleep?  I wondered if chickens dream.  Those of you reading this, who grew up on a farm with hundreds of chickens, truly must think I'm a little crazy.  I am just one of those people who can look at any animal and see the benefits of keeping it as a pet, AND wonder what they are thinking.  So yes, I think chickens have feelings.
An hour later we went out with a flashlight in hand, looked through the window to see what was happening.  Two were on the roost, two in the nesting boxes, and 2 still walking around, looking for a way out (maybe).
The next morning we pulled open the small door, and one by one they made their way out, looking well rested, I might add.
The project for the next day was removing the old coop, making sure their would be no temptation. We hooked it up to the tractor and wheeled it away, until, along side of the garage, the front board holding the run together broke free.  So, that is where it stayed.  Underneath the old coop, we had laid several sheets of plywood and boards, to make sure no intruders could make their way up into the coop to eat food scraps.  As we pulled one sheet of plywood up, their it was, the rat we both knew would be there.  It scurried off quickly, free from the eyes of the dog or the cat. Fortunate rat.  Their were several rat tunnels underneath, and the smell of old hay, food scraps, and rotting unanimous things.  The chickens loved it. Lots of worms and bugs.
At sunset that night I watched them, one by one, make their way into the new coop.  But, I had not been counting.  When we went out to close the small door, we heard the clucking behind us.  Up in the tree behind the garage were two chickens, intent on spending the night roosting where they were.  This has happened before when the young chickens are resisting to spend the night in the coop with the older hens.  Fortunately, they were not up too high, and we carried them into the coop for the night. 
Slowly, they will adjust better, and then will come the process of moving the young ones in the same coop.  I know that will included some tree searching before bedtime.
It was well worth the work to have this new coop.  If we have to leave them for a few days, I won't feel so bad leaving them locked up in this one.  It's quite large inside, 10 X 12 X 6 1/2.  There are 3- 10 foot roosting bars, and 8 nesting boxes.  It looks like a quaint little cottage in our backyard. And I will be painting it white soon.  I'm not much of an artist, but I'm going to try my hand at some chicken art!
Happy chickens, lay happy eggs, so I think.  And I'd rather eat happy eggs than those from the large crowded chicken warehouses.
May your chickens be happy, your egg yolks orange, and your garden abundant.   Happy days are ahead!


Friday, April 22, 2011

More Progess on the Hen House!

Happy Earth Day Everyone!
We have completed the nesting boxes and the ceiling in the new Hen House. We will be insulating before next winter.  And, because we will only have 11-12 chickens laying in the future, we decided to put in 8 nesting boxes instead of 10.  It's coming along quite nicely due to my husbands talented carpentry skills! The chickens are watching the progress wondering what all the noise is about!  I so look forward to putting in the windows, doors, and the rest of the front, so we can "make the move".
I am so happy we made the decision to get chickens.  It brings smiles and joy to our lives.  For those of you who are thinking about raising chickens, take that step and just do it.  Your days will be brighter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

DO IT YOURSELF PROJECT?

Just a note to you if you are considering starting to think about undertaking a chicken coop project. If you do some searching, you will find all kinds of chicken coop designs, books, and advise on how to go about this. I was fortunate, in that my husband has a talent for carpentry, and came up with some unique ideas when we were brainstorming ideas for our "Little Hen House". For those of you interested, I am posting a link below for a free download to help get you started in building your own coop.  Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin, so this may help.
It contains ideas on planning and designing your own chicken coop, including a mobile coop design you can make in one day, and essentials needed when building your coop.  Go ahead and check this download out and let me know what you think. It may help you with some of your "brainstorming!"  Thanks,   Mary

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Progress on the NEW Little Hen House!

Thought I'd share some pictures on the progress of the new chicken coop. It is quite a bit larger than the old one, and I'm sure will hold up much longer. The first picture below is the front wall. It will include a human walk in door, chicken walk in door, and two windows. It is 6 1/2 feet tall and the inside is approximately 10 x 12. On the right wall we will put 10 nesting boxes, the back and left wall are where the roosting bars will be. A word of thanks to my husband for his wonderful talent.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Building the new Coop

I am sorry to say that the old "Little Hen House" has seen it's days, and must be replaced. Not only for that reason are we building a new one, but we would have a hard time fitting 13 chickens in the old one. From our first baby chicks, and the death of Ms. Friendly, the memories will remain. So much has been learned in the process.
For the next month or so, I would like to include you in the building of our new coop. It is much larger, the coop itself about 10 x 12 inside. We are using part of an outside building we already have for 2 of the walls. According to my husband, the hard part has been done, which he says was the laying of the foundation bricks. Hoping that is true (do I dare say I may not believe him?), I look forward to continuing our project. In the meantime, the chicks are getting quite big, so their living spaces keep changing. Thanks to the warm weather, they are spending more time outside.
For those of you thinking of building a coop, please don't hesitate to ask any questions, or contact me with any comments. Enjoy the show......
The beginning: