We knew the heat was coming. Over 10 days of high extreme temperatures. So I asked the girls if they would chip in and we would work like mules for the last cool day, Tuesday. We just had a bunch of things to get done and of course, they said yes. We knew that we had to get the majority of the projects done because 105 degree temperatures just do not work well with us.
The picture above is of Nickel, one of our new roos. You can see just how burned out the grass looks… he is walking around in our middle yard, which is pretty much our back yard. It’s all burned out and just looks awful. I gave up watering a week ago. It’s a lost cause. Been trying to move the hoof stock around some but we just didn’t have the proper fencing to do the job well.
First order of business was to clean out the big barn well. Our plan was to move the turkeys out there, in a new pen that would be bigger and out in the sunshine and air more than our brooders. They are ready for it. The three heritage birds are 8 weeks old and the younger poults are 4 weeks old. They are still too young to be totally outside, but they were growing so fast, they were filling up the brooder!
Since the poultry barn coop had totally worn down all the grass and vegetation in their yard, we dumped all the compost and straw in there for them to play with. Chickens love to scratch, so throwing a couple wheelbarrow loads in their yards gives them days of entertainment and they really distribute the material around. Argent, the roo, seems very happy about the delivery for his ladies.
We had managed to save up a little bit of cash to get 100 feet of fencing. And today I was planning on creating a real barnyard enclosure, a mini pasture of sorts right around the big barn and the little coop. Perfect to get the hoof stock off the middle so that if we got some rain it might actually grow up a bit. So we set that up today, ultimately stringing up 150 of good strong fence. We still have about 500 feet left to go. We’re trying to get it done as quickly as we can, but fencing is expensive and this is our slow time of the year. So we just keep at it.
With the buildings and some existing fencing, this day’s activity opened up an area about 150 by 100 for everyone. It’s a little greener, still dying, but longer and hopefully will give them something to chew on for awhile. We need rain so badly. Just can’t imagine it was only June… What will July and August bring?
Once we let everyone out, they were so happy and we didn’t hear a single baaa or whiney all afternoon. They were all fat bellied and lounging in the afternoon sun in no time. I am hoping that they clean up the weeds that are popping up all over and I suspect they will after they nosh down some of the last grass.
The turkeys seem happy with our little turkey pen. They are in the big barn with the pigs. It’s hard to show exactly, but if you were take a big rectangle and cut it in half, that is the pig pen area. And then take the other half and cut it in half and that is this turkey pen here. So far so good, only one escape attempt when Cody Pony pushed on the fence panel and bent it. Needless to say, he has been evicted from the barn area and a gate was installed at the feed room door. He is like the reincarnation of some master mind criminal. He’s very smart and very clever.
This picture sort of helps to explain it. The pen to the right of the pigs is the turkey’s little chamber. The pigs area is 14 by 18 and they seem to enjoy the space pretty much. They can rip around and get a good amount of speed and they have an area for their potty and a mud hole by the waterer and a place where they like to sleep back in the corner. Soon we will be making them an outside yard as well, but that will need a little more help since we are going to dig a ditch and fill it with concrete rubble and then fence it, so they won’t root under the fencing. My mantra for this year is NO MORE ESCAPEES…. I do declare… I think that livestock LIVES to try and make a fool of you and your containment efforts. They are constantly considering this plan or that plan as they sit and contented chew away at their fodder. I guess, what else do they have to think about? How cute the ram is? Whether they like the color we painted the fence? What’s for dinner? Haha… nope, it’s hey, how can I get over there and eat that grass. Pretty much that is the whole reason for the old “grass is greener on the other side” cliche. Invented by sheep and goats and ponies.
This shot is from the feed room doorway. Looking into the turkey pen and over back into the pigs pen. We love cattle panels…. they are delightful! I would like about 25 of them to just sort of magically appear in our yard. That would be wonderful!!!! They are just so, so, tough and nice and uniform.
We call this area in the big barn, the feed room, but really, it rarely has much more than a couple pails of hay and chicken feed in the winter. We have converted it more into the free range flock’s roosting place at night. It’s hard to see but we moved their ladder to the left of the room and there are some low old shelves on the right of the room that they like to sit on. They are up high and they like that. Seems to work out nicely. In the pig area is the big side doors and we can pull those tight and snug at night and then locked up this big heavy door to the right of the picture and secure everyone up tight.
We took the time to get all the junk out and organize all the tools. And just did a major tidy up. Put down a little more sawdust. This area has a concrete floor, but with a little bit of shavings down, it makes it MUCH easier to clean up the chicken poop from roosting. And it just keeps the place a little more tidy. I would like to paint the walls at some point, but that will probably wait until it cools down some. And of course, when we get the 2,786 other higher priority chores done. Maybe 2018. Maybe.
Remember the little wheeled coop that Jr. made for us last year? The one that we have used here and there as a temporary coop or a holding pen for meat birds, that sort of thing? Well, with the addition of Sheldon, our new barred rock boy that came back from his urban placement, we really needed another little flock/coop. And I got to thinking, this would be a perfect roosting spot for him and perhaps his brother Martin and a passel of hens. (To be acquired…) But again, we needed to make it safer. So, we had a couple pieces of scrounged plywood and we nailed them to the bottom. We raised it up with some pallets from our pallet fence, which we dismantled in anticipation of our more permanent pasture fencing, hopefully to come. And then we moved it to the sheltering side of Gideon’s sheep shack. So it will get protecting from driving rain and hot sun.
I managed to score 30 feet of chain link fence for $15 on Craig’s List. Yeah! That’s a deal. Tough sturdy fencing! We will be pounding in a few posts and setting up a nice little yard for them under the big locust trees. Nice and shady and full of a half year’s barn compost! They will have a good time digging and scratching and turning that over for us.
Imagine that you have a little gate from the left corner of the little roost shack, and then fencing going out and down almost to the corner of the sheep barn. And then over to the pallet fence that is buried in the tree. There is about ten feet of fence at the end of the area, so ultimately the yard will be about 10 feet wide at the end and then about 15-20 feet up by the coop, and then 30 feet long. I think a perfect enclosure for a pair of roosters and maybe 8 to 10 hens. We are going to also reinforce the coop a bit more, add more protecting sides to it and a stronger roof before winter. So far, Sheldon approves.
Now, some day, we’ll have this super pretty, nicely fenced, totally functioning farm. With lovely water troughs all over and good solid tube gates and beautiful stalls and feeders. And swings and sitting places and lots of flowers and lilac bushes and all that. But the reality it, we’re not made of money and we have to make due and be creative at times while we work on the ultimate vision of the farm. So when we can be resourceful and save a little coin, it’s a good thing. Like take this extra waterer. Yep, it’s a cooler that we found on trash day! It was in perfect shape, just had the lip snap off. A little scrubbing and it was a perfect water trough for the sheep in the barn yard. They have a lovely big trough up near the house, and water buckets in the barns, but I wanted to have something in the back for them so they wouldn’t have to walk so far to get to water in the heat. It’s the perfect height for my little Shetland sheep and Cody has no problems slobbering in it. The chickens like it as well. It will do until we can get a nice big one for back there. Gives us a little time to find a used one or a good deal at a garage sale or farm auction.
We have bigger plans for all sorts of things, but it just will take time. We aren’t able to just use a bunch of credit and go nuts to make this a Bob Evans farm, so it’s clawing and creeping along, trying to upgrade as we can and make things workable, then tolerable, then nicer and then awesome! And it makes every project finished, seem so much more rewarding.
Thankfully, we got a ton done and nearly everything on the list. I would have liked to get Sheldon’s yard done, but the ground is SO hard from 5 weeks of no rain, and it was getting to 7:30 and we were tired and hungry and just ready to stop. We’ve been trying to do little things in the morning before the heat gets really bad, so that will happen soon. Probably even tomorrow. In the meanwhile, we just keep at it. And enjoy every minute of it!!!!