A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Raising Chickens

The meat birds are seven weeks old now and time sure has flown...hard to believe they go from this...
 to this,
in such a short time!

The time has really flown by this year and I have actually enjoyed it this time.  This is our third year raising chickens and I think we have finally figured things out.  Our first year we brooded them in our drafty tool shed on two levels...it was stinky and messy until we moved them out to chicken tractors over at Big Bear Ranch.  I loved the chicken tractors but driving over to Big Bear twice a day and hauling water in the back of my truck was a lot of work.

Last year we built an insulated brooding house which worked out very nicely and used an outdoor pen we constructed using poultry netting.  This meant the chickens had access to the outdoors but our chicken house was still kind of stinky and I was still hauling a lot of water around.

This year we have made a number of improvements...first, the automatic waterers...you can see from this picture of the inside of the chicken house...the hanging waterer...
It is attached to this big tank which I only need to fill every three or four days, using my garden hose...
Second, we installed a ventilation fan (you can see the outlet above the water tank) that keeps the fresh air coming through...that makes a big difference... no more eye-watering ammonia smell!

Third, we hauled all the feed over to the chicken house and stored it inside.  Last year I was carrying the bags from our hay shed over to the chicken house on a daily basis and those bags are heavy at approx. 45 lbs each.  I am also keeping a tote full of shavings in the chicken house so I can easily scatter a fresh layer of shavings every day.
The last thing I would like to improve upon this year is making it easier to move the poultry netting.  It works well in the sense that you can keep moving the chickens onto fresh grass but it moving it is quite a chore.  It is heavy and must be taken down and collected up very carefully.  It is also not the easiest to use on our brushy grass areas as it gets snagged regularly on all the wild rose bushes and saskatoon bushes.
I will have to keep thinking on that one...I suspect using some heavy machinery and flattening, tilling and planting grass seed is the only answer to improving the ground around there.

Maybe next year...stay tuned for another post on butchering day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ah...the great outdoors!

I spent most of yesterday preparing the outdoor pen for the chickens and turkeys.  I had to do a little brush cutting to make a clear path for the electranet fencing, cut out a door from the coop to the pen and make a gangway for the chickens to go down.  Here they are enjoying the great outdoors...well sort of...
They were not exactly running outside... I had to entice them by pulling their feeders through the door and then they reluctantly followed.
The sheep have been enjoying the green grass for a few weeks now...this week-end I am hoping to finish the fencing on the other side of our property so they can head over there and give this space a rest.
This is Shatzi, Vivien's 4-H lamb with one of Curly's twin ewe lambs (the little black one)...
 Here is Faith the goat and the ever-watchful Knut...
The sun is shining so I am off to plant out a few more squash, some cucs in the greenhouse and the rest of the beets and carrots.  The salad greens are really taking off, salads for lunch and dinner today!