Too soon? RIP Sherm. Anyway, the chickens are in the coop! It’s not 100% done, but it’s done enough for rock & roll, as they say. Here’s Suzy Creamcheese en route.
The chicken inspector approves!
Anyway, this weekend was long, but we got it done. My mother in law came both days and helped. Saturday looked like we were going to make really good progress, and then of course it starts pouring, cutting things short. We did get all but one corner of the “apron” in place. That’s where you put hardware cloth on the ground for two feet out, to keep anything that wants to dig into the run from doing so. Like so:
Anywhere there’s an overlap, we secured with zip ties. You can stitch it with wire, but that might be the only thing more annoying than zip ties. We had little hooks made of wire to help loop them through, and it still was tough. My fingertips are also a delightful array of tiny puncture wounds from the edges of the hardware cloth. I didn’t have gloves that fit snug enough to wear during this. Yay! So anyway, we did a lot of this, then it rained. Boo. Crap. Dog fudge.
Sunday was another day. I got up early and did the last corner of the apron just to smote its ruin on the mountainside. Then we zip tied some more, and set to work tidying up any loose ends that might result in an insecure run.
After my uncle’s chickens getting wiped out, and his subsequent idea that electric fences are the only way to keep out raccoons, I bought a small one for the coop. (I trust him. He’s a scientist. He specializes in volcanos that shoot raccoons.) I have been seeing a lot of roadkill raccoons out there, so they’re around. And maybe coming back to life to eat my chickens. I have now gone one day without zapping myself. Let’s see how long I can keep this up. I bet not very long. It doesn’t kill anything, it just zaps enough for the animal to realize this is not a good idea and to go elsewhere. Hopefully we don’t even need it, but I don’t want to take chances after all the work I’ve put into this.
Electric fences need a ground rod pounded into the ground. You then run a wire from the electrifying thingy to the ground rod. Ground rods are comically oversized. Ours was 8 feet long. Seriously. After about an hour of hammering with a regular hammer and making no progress between two of us, my mother in law ran to the store right before closing, and got a sledgehammer. That helped. We still have about four feet to go, though.
I figure I’ll hammer it a few times every time I go out there, and in like a year it will be all the way down. Because of all the hammering, I can barely use my arms today. I feel like a T Rex.
Once the fence was functional, it was time to move the ladies. This involved also freaking them out. Chickens seem a little high strung.
Here is the coop, clean and unspoiled one last time:
Then filled with bedding and a Mandrell Sister.
Here’s Suzy Creamcheese looking freaked by herself in the run. We decided to just stick them all in the coop for the night, since it may have been too much. Once the flock was broken up, they were all agitated, but they calmed back down once everyone was accounted for.
After the reunion, there was a lot of happy wall-pecking, so that was a good sign.
So, last night I was awoken by an alarm from down the street going off. I thought “man, that electric fence is high-tech!” Then I remembered I had heard this once before, and it’s either the gas station or sports bar. I went back to sleep. Then I heard what sounded like a raccoon gorging on chicken. I awoke to our obese cat with allergies snoring.
In the morning, I went back out, and was greeted by more happy wall-pecking. I said “Hi chickens!” through the vent, and they all starting peeping happily. Their god had returned!
They took a while to warm up to going outside though. Lots of peeking, but not much bravery.
Boss Chicken was the first one out, and almost immediately ate a tick. IT BEGINS. Hopefully by day’s end she will have eaten a bag of ticks. When I left, she was still the only one in the run, but was eating bugs like gangbusters. Collin said the Mandrell Sisters were out there too when she left. Hopefully tonight they will all be there, and will go back into the coop without issue. But I suspect I will be rolling in dirt and chicken crap trying to grab a chicken in the far reaches of the undercoop area.
In a couple of weeks they will be used to their home, and we can start letting them out for free-ranging, under serious supervision, though. At one point Sunday there were three hawks circling overhead. Step off, hawks.