After months of seemingly doing nothing but planning and building the coop, it seems odd that most of that work is completed. We have wasted no time putting it to use. We have ordered our first little flock of chicks. Murray McMurray hatchery will be delivering 34 day old chicks Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. I watched a video of how they are delivered. Very ingenious. They come priority mail and the post office calls you and lets you know when they arrive. The boxes they use to ship them are designed for maximum airflow. The interiors are adjustable so the birds are either closer together in the winter or farther apart in the summer to adjust for body heat. I guess, because they still have some of the yolk left, that the trip doesn’t bother them. They have enough food and are hydrated enough to make the quick trip. Once they arrive, you do have to teach them how to eat and drink. Each little fuzz ball has to have its beak dipped into the water. You have to make sure you see them drink otherwise they won’t know how and will die of dehydration. Once they have discovered drinking, you have to do the same with their food.
We ordered 3 roosters and 30 hens. The hatchery is sending us a bonus “mystery” bird. It will be fun to see what it is.
Once they arrive they need constant attention for the first month. We set up a brooder consisting of a galvanized water tank, heater, feeders and waterers in our city grow room in the basement. With Aaron around before college through August, we will be able to have tag team chick-sitting throughout the process. Once they are about a month old they will go out to the farm coop.
I will post pictures of the whole set up next week once it is populated.
With the coop finished, my thoughts switched almost immediately to the garden. I have figured out the fencing configuration which, of course, means more post holes! My poor back. I had a forced hiatus with respect to the post hole digging because while digging the trench around the coop I burst the pressurized hose on the power washer. Waiting for a replacement. I will never dig another hole out there without it!
I am thinking that I will be attaching the perimeter fence of the garden to the coop itself. That way, in the spring and fall when I want the chickens to go out and peck and forage in the garden all I have to do is open the coop gate and let them out.
I had some initial concerns about how much water is available to me with my well. Not that it can’ t handle it, but what my rights are. I looked up the paperwork on the well and it turns out that if I ran the well pump 24/7, it couldn’t pump the amount of water I am allowed annually. Evidently it is 2.5 acre feet per year. That equates to some 815,000 gallons per year. My pump produces 10 gallon per minute. Do the math. Water concerns alleviated. I hope to get the drip tapes strung yet this summer so I can get cover crops planted. The soil needs to be doctored and that would be a great first step.
We have been in another drought this summer. As a result, it appears that our farmer land leaser has abandoned his wheat project. The USDA office said that there have been a couple of other folks looking for him too and he seems to be in absentia. That is kind of disconcerting because he plowed up the property and the bare soil has been sitting there. As it gets dried out, it blows away pretty easily. The only thing growing at this point is a very healthy and vibrant crop of bindweed. If you’ve ever had to deal with that invasive stuff…… We are thinking we won’t be attempting that again. I have learned enough about growing wheat, corn and sunflowers for personal use that I don’t see the reason for it. We are messing with the idea of restoring the vegetation to the back 30 and make it available to the myriad birds, antelope, foxes, rabbits and other wildlife we have seen out there. I have been driving the tractor around the perimeter of the farm to mash down the ground again where the plow dug it up so we can resume our daily walks around the farm for exercise and dog running.
I am investigating the procedures involved with having someone coming in and seed drill hay grass into the front 10 acres. That will hold in the soil and give me hay and feed for chickens and future critters.
So after JUGS this weekend, the babies arrive. Once that happens, we will be doing activities via hand off of chick sitting tasks. I will have some time to let my body heal from the months of construction work, pay some attention to the back yard garden, and plan out the next evolution…. the production of food.
So up to this point we are all very proud of the accomplishments. We are on the verge of a new change of lifestyle with the responsibility of livestock, and in a few short weeks, a kid going off to experience the world of college.
What A Long Strange Trip Its Been