Heat Wave

17 05 2008

We are in the midst of some record high temps here for so early in the year. Yesterday Chad and I drove past the Fairground thermometer and it said 104…Yikes for us! This has meant long, lazy days where I hide indoors and try to stay cool. Well, actually, we get up and moving really early, and then at 11am when it is too hot for me to be in the sun anymore, then I move inside and try to get stuff done around the house. It is just so hot though… The cats lay all sprawled out, and I follow suit. Then, in the evening, when the temps are a little more humane, I make the rounds again, and see what needs more water and how the plants and animals are functioning through the heat.

On Monday, we got a chicken tractor built with some help from RJ over at Blackberry Lane. This is a shot of me inside installing nesting boxes. Yep, go ahead, make “nesting” jokes…

Then Chad and I got chickens moved in. They really love being able to scratch in all the grass. The first night was a little nerve-racking for me, because I kept envisioning going out the next morning to remnants of a fox or coyote buffet, but all has been well for them. They pant in the heat, and I am trying to keep them as cool as possible, but when I can’t even manage that for myself, well…

Pretty neat, huh? So the theory behind this is based on Joel Salatin’s grass farming at Polyface Farm, where I first heard about the whole concept of pastured poultry. It turns out, as with so many other things, this is not a new concept at all… But one we are really excited about having in place around here. Hopefully the predators stay away, or else we will have to get a guard llama!

Also on Monday, Chad planned out our irrigation needs for what we have planted right now, and got it all ordered. On Wednesday, it arrived, and Thursday morning, we got up really early and laid the lines for it.

Those black lines you see are the drip irrigation lines running off the main line. Chad had a really good time putting it all together. I helped, but got really distracted by our baby corn plants:

Of course, there are a million pests for these too, so we have to up our protection methods for all our plants. Sigh. I didn’t particularly like bugs before, and NOW, well, let’s just say I am very fond of things like frogs and turtles and birds…

Oh! Speaking of birds! I will just say that the big scoreboard for my life is currently at Birds 2 Gabrielle 0. After the great chicken escape of a couple weeks ago, I had yet another encounter with a fine feathered fellow, but this time it was inside the house. I was sitting at the computer, and I noticed that Amelia was behaving very oddly with our little wood burning stove. Normally, she isn’t even really around the thing, but this day, she wouldn’t leave it alone. After about 15 minutes of her clawing at it, I was finally fed up, and I went over to grab her and make her sit in my lap. As I got close to the stove, I heard a little noise from inside. Well, I opened up the door enough to peak in, and there was one of the barn swallows we have been seeing around the house lately. I slammed the door shut really quickly and went about what I was doing. I took Chad lunch a little bit later and asked if he was ready to tackle the next problem of the day, and told him about the bird. Well, he said, if it is still in the when I get home from work tonight, we will take care of it. We went back up to the house a little but later, and while he was on the computer, I decided to have another peak inside the stove. The bird was calmly sitting in the back corner, and I once again closed the door. I went and got a box, thinking that I would open the door, and the bird would try to fly out, and I would have the box there waiting, and smoothly transfer the bird back to its outside life. Right. The bird wouldn’t come out, and while I had the box tilted away from the opening to get my hand inside to shoo it out, THEN it flew, and didn’t fly neatly into the box, but proceeded to fly around the living/dining/kitchen area.

The cats, by the way, thought this was fantastic. They were running around the floor right under the bird like laser guided missiles, so the game became “try to shoo the bird out, and not trip over a cat”.
I opened the 2 sliding doors, and had Chad open the front door. The bird would perch on the top of the door, and then swoop right back inside. After a few minutes, he finally made it out the front door, while Matilda and Amelia sat with tails swishing at their loss. I went back to washing the nesting boxes for the inside of the chicken tractor, and Chad went back to the computer. A couple minutes later, Chad poked his head outside the door and said, “Uhm. I think we have a new pet.” I could only groan and ask what had possibly happened at this point, and he said, “The bird is back in the stove.” Obviously, they are trying to make a nest and the wire that should be on the chimney is not… Well, this time, Chad dealt with it. He opened the stove, stuck his hand in, caught the bird, brought it outside, and let it go. (That would be Bird 0 Chad 1. I need to take lessons.) It has yet to come back. Hopefully we traumatized it enough that it will pick another nesting site…




2 responses

20 05 2008

reading this i’m worried that coyotes/foxes might be able to dig under your coop… is this a valid concern? what about some edging that is sunk a bit to ensure that doesn’t happen? just a notion, don’t know if its even an issue. hope you guys are well.

21 05 2008

Yep, Greg, I am worried about that too. I originally wanted to line the bottom with chicken wire, but RJ pointed out that when the ark gets moved, the chickens’ legs can get caught in the wire and broken. And then you have to kill the chicken. SO I decided against that, and I just made sure the wire from the sides hung down a bit and provided pokey-ness to detour the predators from even thinking about digging under it. We also moved the ark to the inside of our larger fenced area, so now it is like they are double protected. That will have to do for now, and if something bad happens, we will have to figure out how to build a better chicken ark…

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