Now that we're no longer dealing with snow, we've begun work on the exterior of the old chicken coop. The interior got a major overhaul (minus a few details we still need to address) last late fall, which served the chickens well through the long winter. Now we are onto removing all of the exterior OSB siding (and ants, which the chickens eat happily), adding house wrap and all new 30-year exterior plywood siding, painting it and then building a large 12-feet by 24-feet run wrapped entirely in hardware cloth. This will provide the chickens with a run three times the size of their current hoop house run. I've been painting the coop and the run structure in Valspar's 'English Tea Party 6004-2C' and we all absolutely love the way this color looks both sophisticated and gorgeous against all the green. I'm sure it will be just as gorgeous against winter snow.
Also worth noting-yes, we want our chickens and ducks to have as much fresh air, sunshine, bugs, space, and green as possible, but we are not okay with free-range birds. First, there's the busy road and lack of perimeter fencing, and second, we have bald eagles, hawks, owls, raccoons, fox, probably coyote, and any number or poultry predators also roaming our land looking for a tasty meal. We've invested a lot of time and money raising our birds and do our upmost to provide them a good life in exchange for eggs, and we're not about to let them become disposable animals. We feel it's our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure they get to have long, healthy lives.
On the west side of the run stood an old smoke house that Alex tore down (also infested with ants). All of us have been out there in long sleeves and bug baffler hoods because the black flies are also out and they are vicious. I paint, Alex constructs, Olivia and Adam help applying all the welded wire cloth, and the chickens cluck at us constantly. They are so curious about what we are doing (and they want to know when their next batch of rotten wood and ants will be arriving.) Also, many of them are broody, despite being rooster-less, and they are cranky. Very. Cranky. We're hoping this new run will be a distraction and much needed change of pace for them.
Avis, a Dominique
Doris, a Silver Gray Dorking
Blanche, a Jersey Giant
Oh, and in other news, one of our sweet Buff Orpingtons, who has been a house chicken since early February due to a touch of frostbite that led to the others picking on her, has successfully transitioned back to the flock. Welcome back, Ethel!
Ethel becomes a house chicken
playtime with Alex
hugs for Ethel