Z buys a shed

It’s been all week since I was last here  – when I’m on my own, I tend to have very early nights unless they’re very late ones because I’m watching something: either way, the time tends not to be spent blogging.  And then, once LT was home, events took over again.

Afternoons, at the start of the week, were spent with young Pugsley, who had to continue with half days at school until the end of the term.  A fortnight and a bit to recuperate fully should see him right.  We went to have lunch with them on Friday – it was a long and extensive meal and we didn’t really do a lot when we arrived home.  And today, Ro and co, with Zain (not the cat, the Best Man) came for lunch, so we’ve had a leisurely evening again.

I’ve lost another chicken to a predator, which got in where I didn’t think it was possible.  I suspect a mink.  The chickens are now being shut up in a coop at night, which is surrounded with bricks so that weasels and other small nasties can’t get in, with the run of the greenhouse in the day, and the three newbies are using the whole chicken house in the day and half of it at night.  I’ve blocked off everything, i hope, but am still very anxious every morning.  As always, it was a favourite that I lost.  I have ordered a shed – I looked up coops but they’re not big enough for me, I want something I can walk into to clean out – and it’ll arrive on Thursday.  I have nest boxes and we can add roosting perches.  It will go into the greenhouse and I’ll know they’re safe at night.  I suspect that we’ll need to take out the window and replace it with wire, to make sure there’s enough air circulation.

Of course, this catastrophe was the main reason I didn’t blog all week.  I was upset.  And I’d like to have a few more chickens but, on the other hand, if I lose any more in horrible circumstances, I’m not sure I can take it any more and might just rehome the survivors instead. But I’ll give it every chance, I do rather love the chooks.  My next task will be to integrate the newbies with the old stagers.  The trouble is, the newbies are very big and prepared to stand up for themselves, and one of my others is tiny.  The cock will support her, but he’s small too.  I’m thinking that I’ll introduce one, to start with, but I’m anxious about that too.

Eggs for supper, by the way.

4 comments on “Z buys a shed

  1. Blue Witch

    Sorry to hear about the loss.

    Good luck with the shed project. Have you thought of an auto-closing door (pop-hole)? Runs on a battery – change it twice a year and worry no more.

    Wooden perches tend to harbour red mite. We’ve had success with UPVC square profile. Nowhere for the mites to hide!

    I would suggest bunging all the hens in the new shed together, at night, and letting them sort it out in the morning (let them out late to give them lots of time to smell the same). If you throw them lots of corn, they’ll be so busy scoffing, by the time they realise they’re actually all different, they’ll all be friends. If you introduce just one she will, undoubtedly, get ganged-up on.

    Reply
  2. Z Post author

    I did, when I was looking at coops, but if I did that I’d have to cut a hole in the door and …. well, let’s see how it goes. Your advice about getting the chickens together is the same as Rose’s suggestion, and I’m sure you’re right. It’s just fear of them ganging up on the tiny Serama. The three new black hens are bigger than any of the others, I don’t think there’s much risk of them being picked on. Anyway, I appreciate your advice, you know a lot more than I do. I’m just unnerved by a number of horrible experiences over the last year, some of which I haven’t mentioned online because it can make it feel worse. I’m not very brave any more.

    Reply
  3. Blue Witch

    I’m not sure how this could fit with your set up, but your predator solution is undoubtedly electric hen netting. Perhaps you could have a new hen area with the shed surrounded by netting? I honestly think that, living where you do, it’s the only real answer if you want to safely keep hens, long-term.

    The pop hole could be in a side panel, rather than the door of the shed, and could be raised, with a ladder up (or else things like mice will get in during the day and hide, exacerbating the problem). But it would be probably be better to cut it out before the shed is assembled (although could be done after, with a jig saw).

    Small hens are often not the bottom of the pecking order (so, not those picked on) in mixed flocks.

    Reply
  4. Z Post author

    The summer after Russell died, chickens kept laying away and I ended up with 32 chicks and four mothers in separate coops, as well as the adults. I decided I’d have to keep them in and was going to do so in the spring – and on 1st February, another mother turned up with 11 chicks. They’ve never been outdoors since, I can’t cope. I am no good at spotting where they lay and they were all so independent-minded, there was no stopping them. So they’ve got a decent sized hen house (part wooden, part wired), plus a small netted outside run, which at present the newbies use. They also have a 40’x14′ greenhouse, with some of the glass replaced by netting for ventilation. The shed will go in there and ultimately that’s where they’ll all be – I’m trying to scheme out a way of them having an outside run off it, whilst still keeping it fox proof, but I’m not quite there yet.

    The fox got in to the house via the barn, I hadn’t realised there was a gap. It was mended and loads of wire put up, but the latest disaster happened all the same. I think that hen house is too vulnerable in the long term, but the greenhouse is pretty secure except for rats and anything that can get in through rat runs, such as stoats. The Seramas are vulnerable as they’re so small. And I know size isn’t all, but the big brown hen does go for the tiny one (and the medium brown bantam gets on fine with the Serama but sometimes has a go at the big one) – the thing is, if she is attacked, it wouldn’t take much to kill her and I am afraid of the risk. I think a bigger, more mixed flock would be better, in fact, and hope for a few bantam chicks later in the year from Rose’s hens.

    Reply

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