Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's Resolutions Part I

I never do New Year's resolutions. I don't even really do New Year's Eve. This year, I went to bed at 9:00 and then woke Ben up at 12:00 saying: "Ben, someone's shooting guns! Do something!" Turns out they were fireworks.

As to resolutions, I usually think of a bunch of things.  They're good resolutions, too.  Go running every day, take a multi-vitamin, watch less tv...  I make a list of all the great New Year's resolutions I've come up with and then I end up doing exactly none of them. I mean, I don't even make an attempt. Most people at least give it the good ol' college try for the first month. 

This year I plan to do one thing: improve the chicken coop.

I'm not going to trick it out like some of my fellow (more ambitious) chicken raisers. I would just like to make it a bit more comfortable for the chickens and more functional for me. My chickens, (who must have read my last blog post and are laying a bit better) have never been roosters. Not just because they're clearly all ladies (wocka wocka wocka) but because they've never used the roost that the builder of my chicken coop so kindly installed for them.  When I first put them in the coop, they slept in the run. They pretty much piled on top of each other in the corner.  Fearing that they may be eaten by a hungry raccoon with paws strong enough to rip through the chicken wire, I started locking them in the coop at night until they found new spots to sleep inside. Once again they piled on top of each other in a corner.  About 2 months ago, they decided they wanted to start sleeping on top of the nesting boxes. Really, this is my fault for not sloping the roof of the nesting boxes. Regardless, it makes a nasty mess on top of the boxes as chickens tend to poop excessively while they sleep. When I go into the coop at night after work, I hear the contented cooing of sleeping hens and the even more contented phthht, phthht, phthht of four chickens taking massive dumps every two seconds.

I would like to get them to start roosting on the roost. I think I might try to get them to do this by picking them up while they are sleeping and putting them onto the roost. I'll do this every night for a week and see if they start going up there by themselves.

Another problem with my coop is the haphazardly cut chicken door I put in the side of it. Last summer I decided that I really wanted to put in a chicken door that lead to the woods. I wanted to let them free range, and free range they did.... until the great dog attack of 2011.  I know I should have installed a fence for them, but fences are expensive, so I decided I'd let them free range only when I was outside to watch them.  I only lost one chicken because I chased off the dog (screaming expletives of which I'm not proud), but they haven't been outside since.  I am a firm believer that dog owners should be in control of their canine companions at all times.  First and foremost, it's unsafe for dogs to be running loose. They could get hit by a car, they could be stolen, they can get into fights... It's just a bad situation for Fido. Secondly, it's not fair that I need to keep my chickens in their coop all the times because certain dog owners can't keep their animals off my land. (Jessica steps off soapbox).

Regardless, I'd like to fix this haphazardly cut chicken door to make the coop a bit less drafty. Maybe I'll put some weather stripping around it but I haven't figured out exactly what I'll do.  Maybe I'll also build some sort of movable pen so that they can still go outside the coop. I'll keep you updated as to the progress of my New Year's resolution.


  1. I agree with you on the dogs and I see a chicken tractor in your future! Then your chickens could see the world... well at least more of your property.

  2. I vaguely remember back in University reading an article about chickens and vertical space... apparently, they need to be used to moving "up" as chicks, or they'll always stay on the ground. You might have a hard time training them to use the roosts now. Next time you have a batch of chicks, you could add in some blocks or something so they realize that "up" is a direction they can go.

    And I hear you about loose dogs. Shady is a bit cautious by nature, and it's happened a few times that a giant loose GSD or Doberman runs towards us at full speed, with no owners in sight. Some people suck.