Kicked the Chicks Out

We picked up the few things needed from the hardware store this morning and got busy with the chicken coop.  We made fairly good progress and should be able to have it finished in the next couple of days.  We are building Justin Rhodes’ Chickshaw from his Permaculture Chickens book.

If you are not familiar with Justin, he and his family homestead in North Carolina and recently finished a Great American Farm tour where they visited all fifty states.  They were looking at all the backyard and small time farmers and learning some great ways of doing things.  They shared all of this with us through a daily vlog on youtube.  You can check it out here.

The chickshaw takes shape

I had a couple helpers today.  The boys helped with hammering and even sawing the wood.  They had a great time and I hope they learned something too.  Hopefully they want to keep going and help me to finish this thing.

My helpers today

We kicked the chicks out of the house as, quite frankly, they stink.  We didn’t appreciate the fresh barn smell coming from the closet anymore and as they seem to be thriving outside we felt comfortable doing this.  I set up a temporary pen out in the shed (the shed is insulated) with their heat lamp and they seem to like the extra space.

Temporary housing for chicks

Checked on them in the morning and I don’t think they slept, they just ate.  I don’t know if maybe I should shut the heat lamp off at night so they roost and just have the oil heater on low?  I’ll try that tonight.

The trees are finally showing their leaves and it raises all our spirits dramatically.  Unfortunately the mosquitoes are out and with all the standing water around here I am worried we are going to be over-run soon.

Starting the Coop, Putting the Chicks Outside

We took the chicks outside the last couple days. The sun was out and the temperature hit a nice 21 degree and 23 degree day. In fact I (and a couple kids) managed to get sun burnt.

We put up some temporary fences and brought the portable brooder outside. The chicks were not into it at first and I had to put them out on the grass a couple times. It wasn’t long and they were having a blast (at least it looked like they were enjoying themselves) rooting around in the grass.

We put them over a garden spot the second day and they went to work tilling the dirt and taking care of an ant hill. They are much happier outside (and so are we).

We got started on the coop, went as far as we can without going to the farm store. I also am repurposing an old gazebo into a chicken tractor. Also need to go to the farm store to finish this project.

The sprouts are doing great. I’m going to have to put some in pots sooner than later. Or I might take a risk and put them in the ground we will just have to watch the weather and cover them if necessary. The two week forecast looks favourable (we all know how trustworthy that is), but I am hesitant. I would rather transplant once rather than twice, but I don’t want to risk losing our crop either.

Small Farm Life

One of our chicks died. Not sure why as they all seemed quite healthy in the morning when I checked on them. Around lunch we noticed one seemed lethargic and sickly. We separated it from the rest and tried to nurse it back.

It would take water and seemed to revive a bit and then would just lay there not moving. A couple hours later it was gone, much to the sadness of the children.

The rest seem to be thriving and doing well, so if we only lose one out of twenty six I think that is pretty good.

I have to get my butt in gear and build a bigger coop as they are going to quickly out grow this one. The garden sprouts are doing well, even the stuff the kitty knocked over. In fact some of it is doing too well. The general rule of thumb up here in northern Alberta is to not plant until after May long weekend as it almost always snows then (or at least one last frost).

The prairie chicken in the back yard spent the better part of the day perched on his stump calling all the single ladies. Not sure how long until they show up, but it’s pretty neat to watch him from the window. The robins are out in force and my mom said she saw some redwing blackbirds today, so spring is definitely here.

We built homemade perogies with my mom. This is a family favourite and something we don’t make very often, but man were they tasty. I lost count of how many I ate. They are especially good with a cream gravy and some farmer sausage.

Farm life has its ups and downs, I am so blessed to be able to spend this time with my family and am thankful for every moment.

Chick Days!

The chicks are here! We picked them up after lunch on Tuesday, much to the delight of the children. We ordered 25 mixed Rhode Island Red chickens and ended up with 26! We won’t know how many hens and roosters we have until they are about 3 months old (according to the internet).

They are a hoot to watch. Really active already, running around the brooder and pecking at everything. So far they have all survived and are looking healthy. They have appetites like our kids 😉.

We have some grouse (prairie chicken) in the yard too. The one male perches out on a stump, fluffs up and beats his wings on his chest. The whump whump he generates is quite loud and can be heard in the house. Our first spring on the acreage we heard the noise and couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Mating season apparently.

There is a prairie chicken in this photo

The kitten has managed to knock two of our seed trays on the floor in the last two days. I think we managed to save them, but makes me a bit grumpy. The sprouts are looking strong and I hope we can transplant them soon. My garden beds are still under water (and snow) though so we need some drying out.

Spring is finally here and we couldn’t be more excited (except for the mosquitos).