Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Predator-Proofing the Coop

It seems odd that I am finally raising chickens when several of my friends in suburban Portland, OR had chickens.  We really didn't have a large enough yard in the city for bees, a garden, and a coop; but now we have plenty of acres to spread out and not get in each other's way!  We purchased our chicks on Easter weekend and look how they have grown in 3 weeks!  Variety: Golden Comets.

Their current setup is a box in the garage, and they have made it known that they want OUT OF THE BOX!  I can hardly keep them in the box when I change the bedding and refill water and food dishes.  They get upset with wings flapping, down flying, and one chicken in particular tries to peck me.  Part of me doesn't want the little chicks to live in the barn away from the house where they are more vulnerable to predators, but birds get bigger and need to leave the nest eventually!

We are very thankful to already have a coop in the barn with air vents, nesting boxes, a roosting pole, and an outdoor run, but work still needs to be done before my chicks will call it home.  One side of the barn had a pile of bricks resting against the siding, and without gutters or a wide overhang, rain splashed back against the siding, causing the wood to rot.  For about an hour, Jon and I relocated the bricks to another location so we could access the siding and replace it.  It's a temporary fix, so yes, we know it looks shabby and doesn't match.  I painted a white primer on it to at least protect the wood from rain. 

In addition to replacing the rotted siding, we have secured chicken wire to the walls and buried it about 8 inches below the ground and toe-nailed the edge out.  From what I read, this deters predators that try to burrow under the walls.  We know that some predators will break through our snares if they are really determined.  Our main objective is to keep the cherry-pickers out who don't want to go through the effort of digging a huge hole and damaging their paws on the wire.  

Currently the nest boxes are boarded up because I'm thinking they will just go in there and make a poopy mess.  For those of you with chicken-rearing experience, is this what you do?  At what time should the chicks have access to the nest boxes and should I put a rock or something in there to give them an indication that this is where they lay eggs?  I didn't find this part of nest box transitioning mentioned in books.  I have seen coops where the nesting box is pristine and the eggs look immaculate without needing a cleaning.  I have also seen coops where the straw is poopy and eggs are a disgusting mess.  

Another exciting discovery is that we have turkeys on the property!  I counted 6 of them grazing in the lawn yesterday.  We hear their calls and have seen them fly over the house.  They are fun to watch and hear.  It is turkey season, but I'm not sure if I can pull the trigger yet.  We enjoy having them around.  I tried several attempts at taking pictures of them, and the picture above is what I got (it's a little blurry).


jenn merfee-t May 30, 2012 at 4:03 PM  

I love the photos of your hen house, keeping predators out, and your grazing turkeys. Yes, we love animals hanging out where we can watch them as well. Being near non-human creatures helps us to reflect on our choices and how they impact others. Have you named your feathery ladies yet? How is Cookie the cat taking to them as they grow?

Holly May 31, 2012 at 1:19 PM  

Hi Jenn!

No, we have not named our chickens yet. We just call them "our girls." Cookie was very envious of the little chicks when they lived in the barn and foraged near the porch. She almost caught one that was 2 weeks old but I managed to intervene just in time. She is still curious and wanders up to the barn and watches them in their outdoor run and chicken tractor. I don't think she would attempt to catch them now that they are close to full size.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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