I can’t believe it’s been a year! There’s just been too much going on, good and bad, to think about blogging, but I”m in the middle of a new adventure that I should document. If you’ve been reading this blog over the years, you’d know I have chickens, and that our house floods on a regular basis. These disparate topics are intertwined and the reason for the work I am currently undertaking.
First, the chickens. Since getting my original birds back in 2015 (like I can remember what year it was; it may have been 2014), I’ve had some losses. By September of last year, I was down to six birds from my original 15 and they were getting older and laying fewer eggs. So I decided to add to the flock. The new chicks arrived at the beginning of October and all was going smoothly. The integration went really well; no big fights. Then, over the winter a Cooper’s Hawk found the flock, and started picking off my young birds one by one (including a couple of expensive blue egg layers). Three of my new birds were killed, but five made it through the winter and started laying by March. In June, tragedy struck again (I did not take pictures; it was too gruesome). A fox got into the hen yard and killed five birds in one day, then came back and killed another one three days later. All but two of my original birds were dead and I was left with three of my young birds. I was heartbroken, but determined to save the last few, but it was going to require drastic alterations of their enclosure to make it as predator proof as possible.
Of course this would have to be the hottest part of the year, but I had extra incentive. I had news of a woman who was selling off her flock because she was downsizing. She was willing to hold onto the birds I had picked out while I made my modifications. The other impetus, was that the house flooded yet again and the current configuration of the chicken yard made it very difficult to divert water flow. So off to work I went. I had to cut down all the trees within the yard to allow for netting to cover the area. This also meant I had to drastically reduce the size of the yard, to accommodate netting sizes and to have a fence line to support the netting, instead of the house. This meant the birds could no longer shelter in the shade of the house and with the trees gone, I had to provide some extra shelter.
Now there’s twelve to fifteen feet between the house and the yard fence, plenty of space to create a new swale to catch runoff. I also installed a new electric wire around the enclosure, and the dogs have access to the two sides of the yard for patrolling. It took two weeks to get this far, but I still have a lot more to do. The extra posts from the old fence line will be used to support the netting (still to be installed).
The new birds are settling in nicely. They don’t know what they missed and their current accommodations are probably an oder of magnitude bigger than they had before, plus a lot less competition. I got five new adult birds, all Cinnamon Queens, and all with unique plumage so I can identify individual birds. For the first time I can give each bird a name (instead of all my white Leghorns being Daisy). So, my old birds are Jasmine and Wilma (they’ve had those names since the start). The young birds are now down to an individual of three breeds, so the Buff Orpington is Penny, the Barred Rock is Pepper, and the Rhode Island Red is Henna. The five new Queens are Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Sugar and Pearl (she has a necklace of white feathers). They’re in kind of rough shape, especially Sugar (center of photo above) since she was the roosters favorite, but they’re very sociable and sweet. I can’t wait to see how they look after their feathers come back in and they fill out a bit.
But, of course there’s more work to be done, especially to finally mitigate the flooding. And…I’m expecting four new baby chicks (colored egg layers) next week. So I’ve given myself six weeks to get the netting installed. In the meantime, I will continue to blog as this huge project unfolds.