A Taste of Freedom

Well, we had another busy and productive weekend.  I love spring! (and I look forward to seeing it sometime soon–will the rain ever stop?!).

The Skipper spent the days working on the chicken run.  The chicks have been enjoying their roomy coop, and I’ve been regularly bringing them weeds, bugs, and dirt for treats, but we do want them to be able to experience the adventure of finding these on their own as soon as possible!  There have been a few issues standing in the way: the temperatures are still pretty low, unless the sun comes out for a little while; I seeded the run with some rye and clover and they haven’t quite filled in yet; and last, there has been no fenced area to contain the chicks if we were to let them out–not sure we’d be able to get them back in again!

We can’t control the weather or the growing speed, but Skipper went to work on the pen.

The run is 8 ft wide at the coop, 4 ft wide at the other end, and about 18ft long.  Should be lots of room for the eventual 8 max hens that will be our laying flock.  The birds also have access to the space under the coop, which you can see has also been covered in raccoon-proof wire (hardware cloth).  The fencing around the pen will also get a 2 ft wrap of hardware cloth around the bottom, buried apron-style about 6″ outside the pen (to prevent digging critters.  The top will also get fencing to prevent raptors from getting in.  We have a spectacular pair of eagles nesting in the trees next door.  Beautiful to watch, but we’re trying to feed us, not them!

Once the main fencing was up, Skipper wanted to take the chickies for a test run.  So we opened the access (pop) door, put the ramp in place, and I went into the run to entice the birdies into the big wide world.

The brave Buffs were the first to venture out, followed closely by the Wyandottes, who always want to prove they are the head of the pack–even when they are nervous!  Soon all the Buffs, the two big-girl Wyandottes, and the Australorp roo were all happily exploring the fresh grounds.  They gobbled up the rye and clover sprouts, scratched through the weeds, and hunted through the dirt.  They didn’t at all seem to mind the cool temps (as evidenced by my thick wool hat!), but the 3 Australorp girls were having none of it.  They got to the door and peered out, but could not be lured beyond the top of the ramp.

Scaredy 'Lorps!

Now, Australorps are literally Australian-Orpingtons, so maybe they are just waiting for more sunshine.  Hopefully we’ll be able to tempt them out next time!  It was a pleasure to see the little ‘lorp roo out in the daylight, though–the iridescence green in the dark black feathers was clearly visible.  Gorgeous!

After several minutes, we were ready to go eat dinner and thought that was enough time for the chickies to be out in the cool evening.  Some of the birds managed to get the hint and walked contentedly back up the ramp to the heat lamp.  But the Buffs were loving the taste of the outdoors and needed more convincing before they willingly walked (up) the plank, beaks covered with dirt. 🙂

Too fun!

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5 thoughts on “A Taste of Freedom

  1. You’re accomplishing so much – it’s wonderful to see. We had the benefit of an existing vegetable garden and chicken coop/run, which saved us a lot of work. But there are lots of ways in which we would have done things differently if we were the ones who had done the planning. So I’m guessing there must be a lot of satisfaction (along with sore muscles!) for you as you build from scratch.

    We have resident eagles, too, and used reflective anti-bird tape (which we bought at Lee Valley) tied as streamers to fishing line strung across the top of our chicken run. The previous owner had netted the top, but it was just a mess when the leaves fell in the fall and the snow came in the winter. With the fishing line everything just falls through – and it has worked against the eagles, so far!

  2. Yarnsalad, I’d love you two to be able to come and see all these changes in person!!! Sigh. One day!

    Miriam, we inherited a lot on this property, which is one of the reasons we bought it. At the time, it seemed a wealth of infrastructure, but I’m with you; we’ve started looking longingly at those open, flat, empty lawns in the suburbs! I’m envious of your beautiful orchard and run set-up and beautiful gardens, too. But seriously, it took us more than a year to feel like it was ok to shake up the garden that was here before–that this was now really OUR place, and we could do what we needed to make it work for us. So now–look out! 🙂

    Thanks for the tip on the reflective tape. The permanent pen is going to get more of the stiff fencing over the top, which hopefully will be ok to clean off of leaves and snow. We’re paranoid about raccoons, and this is where the birds will be outside when we’re not home. But I think the tape may be the way to go in the larger forage patch in the orchard where we’ll want the flock to spend lots of time.

  3. Hi Toni,
    I saw your reply to one of the post at Mucky Boots, saw your name was Toni, too, and had to pop over.

    I can’t wait to read through your blog and get caught up! Another Toni with the same goals! Karma, I say….

    1. Hi Toni, Karma indeed! I’m looking forward to poking around your blog too. How fun to think of another Toni on the other side of the continent with so many shared interests!

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