It seems that all of our recent improvements to the Queendom have focussed on the hen house. Many of our real projects have been put on hold while we figure out how to make life sweet for our chicks. Here is a photo collection of the latest amenities, documenting our labour of love (for eggs!):
The Nesting Boxes
Many years ago, in our old life, we renovated our kitchen and we kept all the cabinets. The old above-the-stove-hood-fan cupboard turned out to be exactly the right size for two nesting boxes. FM removed the doors, added a lower edge and a roosting bar and mounted it 36 cm above the floor. As I hinted before, I made curtains for each box since chickens require a dark, safe and private place to hide while laying. Apparently, their innards partially come out while pushing out an egg and we want to reduce pecking and cannibalism as much as possible. (These beasts are wild!)
We were told that up to six hens can share one nesting box so we knew that our two boxes were more than enough laying space. But wouldn’t you know it – there is an impatient line-up some mornings as they all wait their turn!
In fact, one morning, Tweedle Dum was taking her sweet time in the box and Tweedle Dee could no longer hold her egg in, so she hopped in and made herself comfortable behind and on top of Dum.
During our vacation, the chickens were confined to their coop and run, so all the girls have (mostly) learned to lay in the nesting boxes and our daily easter egg hunt has almost ended. The golf ball trick seemed to work! It is music to my ears when one of the girls comes ‘begawking’ out of the coop to announce proudly that she has laid a good one and earned her keep.
The Chicken Waterer
Having an endless supply of clean water is essential. Filling a bucket or milk jug with water will do for a day or two, but FM devised a system which will suffice for longer absences.
Since the coop used to be a bathroom, the plumbing is in place and access to water is easy. FM built this contraption out of PVC pipe, a toilet tank fill valve and six poultry nipples and then hooked it up to the old water line. It has taken the chicks a while to get the hang of it but we adjusted the height so that they have to reach up to it and they seem to use it more often. It refills quietly and I put a metal drip tray below in an attempt to keep the coop floor somewhat dry.
The Chicken Run
This was a big project which evolved and improved as we built it. Although the chickens have been running free, our plan is to keep them penned in while we are away or at work. We want them to have access to outside but we want to keep them safe from eagles, raccoons, and other chicken lovers.
Using two fence panels, a bundle of multi-link wire fencing, three plywood sheets and a gate kit, we managed to construct a 6′ x 18′ run that is partially covered and partially open. The fence panels and gate should provide some shelter from the wind and rain that previously howled right in through their coop door. There are still some finishing touches left to do, but as it stands, it has kept them safe and secure during our holidays this summer.