20 September 2011

fat of the land / chk chk chkens

As my life has taken a turn in the direction I've always wanted to see it go, I'm updating my blog to reflect that (at least a bit). Instead of confusing myself by starting some kind of side-project blog, I'm just tossing Fat of the Land content right on in here. Heavy Aura / Fat of the Land is basically a crossover blog. I'll focus, however loosely, on my burgeoning experiences as a very small scale yardfarmer, while taking the opportunity to reflect on being fat and mentally ill while farming, being queer while farming, and raising a kid during all of this, too. I'll post about what I'm doing, as I usually do, from a body positive/FA sort of perspective, but there'll be stuff about cleaning up this property (today my partner and kid found an old iron weather vane!) and raising chickens and battling tit sweat, too.

Basically, how will I effect my efficiency? Can I succeed at this with falling apart? How will a transition from a college-town environment to rural living feel (being too close to other people stresses me out, and I feel freer here to move around my house and my yard; however, going into town can be difficult, as I feel like my physical presence garners more notice)? While moving out of town has removed many stressors from my life, it's also cut out most of the social interaction I actually did enjoy engaging in on a semi-regular basis.

I guess take heed, however, if you're staunchly against the use of animals in various aspects of agriculture. My personal goal is that all the animals I raise will be treated with love and thoughtfulness during their living days, and appreciated for the bounty they provide whether as a dairy animal, egg layer, or meat producer.

SO NOW ON TO THE CHICKENS

I lucked into finding a trio of pullets (young hens, not yet laying) and a cockerel for a mere 25 dollars via Craigslist. The seller was a nice guy who is a former Ag student at the local University. The birds, two Welsummers (Padma and Parvati), a Speckled Sussex/possible Barred Plymouth Rock cross (Minerva), and the Ameraucauna/Barred Plymouth Rock cockerel (Fudge), were in great physical condition.

Sadly, Padma lost her wee life to some sort of misadventure (most likely stress-induced). After several calls to the local Ag Extension Agency, we've determined it would be prudent to treat everyone for coccidiosis just to be sure. From now on, we'll probably make it a practice to treat all new animals for this shitty little parasite upon arrival. The medicine is a little pricey (about 23 bucks a pack), but because our flock is so small, it will last us quite a long time.

So far, the Welsummers and the cockerel have been much more susceptible to flipping their shit than the comparably stalwart Minerva. Hopefully we can manage their stress a little better now that we have the basic lay out of the coop set up. We have a lot of predators in the area, so we've been adding fencing and reinforcing things a lot. We're probably going to have to do some further winterizing.

The common thread in the breeds represented in our birds is that they dual wield (ie they're dual purpose breeds). The hens are good layers as well as good growers, so once their egg production decreases significantly, they can be stew-pot bound. Any chicks we have are likely to be good growers, and so we can raise them to a slaughter weight fairly economically.

Our coop is a modification of an existing three-part outbuilding on the property. There was already a little yard with a shelter: we just increased the amount/height of fencing, and fixed up the inside of the shed. The biggest mod to the shed was the addition of the doors in front to close it off (originally it was open). We found the doors stuck in the barn (the property also has small barn!) just begging to be used.
 The right-hand door opens, while the left hand door is fixed (and will need to be reinforced as the weather gets colder).

Ideally, I'd like to lower the top shelves to mod out as laying boxes/roosting spots, and use the lower shelves as a base for a roof-within-a-shed. My thought is that attaching a "roof" with hinges above the roost and nesting boxes will help conserve heat in the winter, while in the summer allowing for more air circulation when raised. 

Not pretty, like this palace at The Fancy Farmgirl, but serviceable. The CDs strung on fishing wire confuse hawks and hopefully convince them to leave our birds alone.

Found-wood roost at bottom, rudimentary ramp to upper level shelves. Shelves to be lowered ASAP. Also, this was prior to adding bedding.

Shade/rain shelter outside.

Adding the top of the "wall."
 Cluck cluck for now.

4 comments:

  1. Is that a !!! reference I detect? Good god, I love you.

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  2. Sure is. ;) Luckily I have discovered that the only way I can reply to comments is via the Disqus e-mail alert system. This is getting ridiculous. ;___:

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  3. Beej LeSweete22/9/11 3:38 PM

    I love the new direction in/off the internet and wish you success boo! That looks so damn hard, fun and rewarding..

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  4. It can be really hard, but for me, it's a lot less hard for me than stuff like ... driving or, uh, being in public? Isn't that weird? I'm weird. People are so weird. <3

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