But you learn from your mistakes and instead of moping about it we finally decided to fix the problem as you will see below. And along with that project that has been put off for far too long was my 2 year old promise to Holly and Judy to build them a chicken coop. Ahhh you may be thinking....he finally got off his duff and built it for them. Not exactly. Last Friday we went to the Spring Farm and Garden show in Springfield where I thought we would spend no more than about $5 - $10 on some small trinket or something to eat. But as soon as we walked in there it was; a 12 foot long chicken coop in our farm colors (hunter green and cream), it had 6 nesting boxes, an enclosed chicken yard, two walk in people doors, windows for ventilation, and all for not a whole lot more than it would have cost me to build it from scratch (picture a lightbulb going off right above my head at this point). Poof - a 2 year promise fulfilled!!!
We all pitched in and dug out the posts, mixed the concrete and poured. I used the Kubota with a chain hooked to the bucket to pull the posts into line and hold them while the concrete set and it worked great.
We should have done this in the first place and I wont make that mistake again. Some folks just pour sackrette into the holes dry (it will eventually set up from the ground moisture) and they even make a post setting mix that has no aggregate but I prefer quick setting concrete with the aggregate and I have found better success with actually mixing the concrete and then pouring wet. Its a personal preference deal as there are likely several variants that would work but I tend to stick with what has worked for me in the past.
I will tell you that if you are contemplating owning a little bit of property and can afford only one piece of equipment it ought to be a small utility tractor with a FEL (front end loader). We use the little Kubota for all kinds of things around the farm and even though we have a couple of larger tractors for plowing and such, this one gets used the most.
Holly poured the water into the bucket, I handled the 80lb bags of concrete mix and added it to the bucket to get the consistentcy I was after and Chris had the hardest job of mixing everything. As for consistency of the mix, I go for a pancake batter consistency which I have found works well for setting posts.
We slowly worked our way down the line of posts. Past this point we will be driving T-Posts to continue our pasture fence and this will become a turnout pasture or isolation pasture.
It sure feels good to be working outside again and doing physical labor. We have been lifting weights and running which has us in pretty good condition for the start of spring and with my back in pretty good shape now I plan on getting lots of projects completed this year. Being layed up most of last year with the spinal surgery was a bummer.
And thar she blows (appolgies to Capt Ahab). It has a nice coop with man door for easy cleaning and a 6'x6' chicken yard which we will eventually expand.
It was dropped off in the drive and we dragged it to here with the tractor (its on skids...thus portable....thus not subject to property tax!!!). The coop itself has an opening window on each end for ventilation, a skylight, and chicken doors so they can move from the coop to the yard and from the chicken yard to the outside if we want to let them free range (which is our intent).
Inside has roosts and a hanging feeder...
And six nesting boxes.
The nesting boxes can be accessed from outside for egg collection.
We chose this spot because it will have shade in the summer, I can run electricity to it from the greenhouse, it is next to a frost free water hydrant, and we can see it from the house (lots of coyotes and other predators around here).
The bottom will be completely encased with heavy wire mesh to keep out racoons, opossums, etc and we likely will have to just keep on top of the snakes. We have a lot of snakes and in general I like them and dont mind their presence but snakes like eggs and chicks so.......the barn cats will have to earn their keep.
And there you have it, Miss Hollie's and Grandma Judy's beginnings of a chicken empire. I have a lot of work to do to finish setting it up for them (gravel, flooring, a waterer, running electricity to it etc) but we think it looks good and it will be ready for the spring chick delivery.