Things are moving along nicely, but there is always some kind of setback.
When my wife and I moved to the farm I seriously underestimated the time and effort needed to get things up and running. When we moved here in August of 2013 my main goal was to get the small chicken yard built, get the septic system put down, get the water working, then get ready for winter. Winter of 2013 – 2014 here in southeast Texas was rather harsh, by our standards anyway.
Spring 2014 started out with around 18 – 20 new chicks. Things were looking up, then then it went to hell. My wife and I moved to the farm with 13 hens. We lost all of the new chicks to various predators. When the new chickens were moved to the new chicken yard, a couple of Rhode Island Reds kept jumping the fence. My dogs ended up killing those two Rhode Island Reds.
The good news, things are on the upswing.
Chicken house / chicken yard
Remember the videos and articles about building a new chicken house and chicken yard? We are almost finished with the yard. I have a 10 foot gate temporary attached to close the chicken yard entrance with a section of cattle panel and some 2x4s. A section of field fence still needs a top strand of barbless wire ran.
It feels good to walk around the chicken yard admiring all the hard work that has gone into the project. I made it through July and August, 100 degree days, in the burning sun setting corner post, driving t-post, running field fence, and all without having a heat stroke. I will remember the summer of 2014 as feeling like I was cooking while building the new chicken yard.
There is still so much to do on the chicken house. The walls are up, the siding is on, part of perch is built, but the building still needs to be wired for 12 volt lights, solar panel installed, storage cabinet moved, another steel trash can bought for storing feed, shutters installed on the windows, siding needs more paint,,,, the list goes on and on.
It is the little things that are so time consuming. The gate to the side of the chicken house was bought with a section of cattle panel tack welded to the tubing. There was an opening of about 1 foot between the top of the wire and the top of the gate. The chickens were jumping though that opening to escape, so I took a section of cattle panel, cut it with bolt cutters, then used a flux-core welding machine to tack the wire into place. Everything was then spray painted with silver rust-oleum.
Cattle / Goat / Sheep field
Now that the chicken yard and house is getting close to being finished, the time has come to plan the next phase. Spring / summer 2015 will be dedicated to fencing in around 7 acres and and building a pole barn.
My wife wants a deck built on the back of the house before I start on the next field and pole barn. So this winter will be reserved for the deck, then next spring kicks off a much larger project than the chicken yard.
Buff Orpington rooster update
Several months ago my wifes Buff Orpington rooster had a stroke. I think is was a stoke because he was paralyzed on one side of his body. My wife and I kept him in the house and gave him food and water using a syringe for about a month. He finally started to get some strength back and thing were looking good.
After about 3 months of having the rooster inside our house my wife and I decided to move him into an unused rabbit box, where he has been for the past month.
Over the past week or so he stopped eating and drinking. From time to time we take him outside to get some exercise. He has gotten so weak he can barely stand.
It is heart breaking to see an animal live in such a poor state of life. My wife and I are trying to stay hoepful, but things are not looking good.
Three new roosters
August my wife and I bought 2 roosters from her son. The two roosters were a brown Leghorn and a Buff Orpington. The Brown Leghorn has been moved into the new chicken house with the older hens. The Buff Orpington rooster is staying in the smaller chicken yard.
Also in August my wife and I ordered 20 new chicks + 1 rooster from Ideal Poultry.
My wife wants to breed pure Buff Orpingtons. The 10 buff chicks we ordered will stay in the small chicken yard, while everything else will be moved to the large chicken yard.
This will give us:
22 hens and 2 roosters in the large chicken yard.
10 hens and 1 rooster in the small chicken yard.
10:1 and 11:1 is a bare minimum ratio for rooster and hens. Chances are next spring my wife and I will order some more chicks. The good thing with a low rooter to hen ratio is a high fertilization rate. If a hen goes broody there is a very good chance several of the eggs will hatch.
The goal is to have a self-sustaining chicken flock who are making enough chicks to replace the ones my wife and I butcher.
Things are looking up
After losing a bunch of chicks to predators things are finally starting to look up. I just need to sustain this momentum through winter.
Hunting season is almost there and I want to keep the chainsaw to a bare minimum through January. Which is a good time to work on the deck. Come Febuary I plan on kicking off the new field and pole barn off with full speed.