Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Girls Move Out

It stinks when the drudgery of jobs and bad weather get in the way of important tasks, like taking care of chickens. But that's exactly what happened this week. Several days of bad weather and late nights working really slowed down progress on the run. We put up wire whenever there was a break in the rain but getting the birds out of the basement had to wait.

Until today.

The run is close enough to complete to let the girls out. It was a chicken rodeo trying to catch and carry six frantic birds past a salivating dog to the great outdoors. Ginger, being the easiest to catch, was the first to go. It's been weeks since the poor thing has seen natural daylight, and I think she was temporarily blinded by the sun.

After a few minutes of wandering around in a daze, she started to look pretty happy so we brought out the rest of the gang.

It's been a chilly and windy day. Thelma and MaryAnn chose to nap in the coop, but the others preferred to huddle together.

They are loaded up with food, water and fresh air. Now we'll have to see what new adventures await.

Then again, they have to make it through their first (very cold) night on their own!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's Time to Stand on Our Own (or Chicken Run Part 2)

Colonel Mustard and Ms. Scarlet left us in such great shape that we had to let the momentum take us forward. Following up on the framing, we prepared the run flooring for stink-free chicken fun. If anyone has been near our basement lately, you will realize how important the "stink-free" part is. Chickens confined to small spaces reek.

Creating a stink-free run meant digging, laying gravel for drainage and adding a few inches of sand on top. This is not an easy task for those of us who just got used to watching someone else use power tools to make our rosy visions real.

After attacking the ground with a pick axe, we enlisted Billy and Percy to dig too:

Next was gravel.

Then they left.

Percy tried not to complain too loudly that there were no video games to play while his mother worked. That was a big help. Another run to Home Depot and a slushy stop quieted the rumblings even more.

Eventually we laid down the landscape cloth for the run.

Next we added sand.

And chicken wire.

Lastly, we put down linoleum floors in the coop. We have the walls partially covered too for easier cleaning.

There are tweaks to be made and more wire to be hung, but we have proven a few things to ourselves and those in the know. The first being we really do try to do the best by our animals. Secondly, we are freaking nuts for all the money, time and energy we spend on the damn animals.

We definitely need to do more planting.

Col. Mustard and Ms. Scarlet save the farm (or Chicken Run Part 1)

We had a good ol' fashioned barn raising this weekend and learned some life lessons on the way. Col. Mustard and his fascinating and fabulous girlfriend, Ms. Scarlet, answered the Farm's call for friends with skills to help out. Having worked with at least one of us in the past, they knew the limitations of our abilities and were aware of the hurdles we would throw in front of them. They arrived early on Saturday armed with a car packed with power tools and acrylic paints.

Col. Mustard is the best; after only a short conversation about the vision for the run, the colonel rattled off a list of supplies. We swiftly jotted down everything he said in crayon. Thanks to Ms. Scarlet and her tactical task mastering, we had an record quick trip to the building supply store and arrived home with all we needed to make our fantasy run come to life.

We shifted the coop so that we can create an access from the side. Then we laid out the supplies.

You may not see it in this shot, but Col. Mustard chiseled out the fittings so the support beams would fit flush into the posts. We'll update later with close ups.

In what seemed like no time at all, the walls were being raised.

A DISCLAIMER: Do not let these photos fool you. We at City Kid Farm had the pleasure of watching Col. Mustard attack and destroy the problems presented by this project. We were on hand to hold things in place if necessary. It was an amazing show, reminding us of how much we don't know how to do.

Next we trenched for the posts and hardware cloth. This time Billy got in on the action.

Then it was time for the roof.

And who could forget the door!

So what life lessons did we learn? If you want to get something done, leave the person who knows how to do it alone. Sometimes helping is a hinderance (at least when time is an issue.) Who can forget, keep your mouth shut and listen to your NCO. Maybe all three are the same in the end.

Lastly, Col. Mustard is so cool, Elvis and MJ are dying to be his back up singers.

We were left with a run that surpassed our imaginings. certainly anything we are capable of. We are thinking of ways to honor the Colonel in our structure so that generations of chickens to come will remember the sacrifices that he made for their safety and comfort.