Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report

It's time to check in on our Goat-Rabbit-Chicken Palace, that wonderful structure that's more than a coop, but not exactly a barn. Sometimes I call it Camp Whoop-Up. It's the open air enclosure we built to be secure from predators, so our goats, rabbits, and chickens can romp, scratch, peck, scamper, eat, head-butt, and sleep in perfect harmony. Okay, scratch, head-butt, sleep, and eat. The harmony and peace of mind is for us, the farmers.

The chicas, all of them, love their living quarters. They can free range in their private yard, around their cottage, and under the fence and into goat territory. They have fresh water, plenty of dust bath sites, and several roosting options. The three original, older girls are still the bossy chicas, even though the pullets tower over them. If any of the new girls couldn't stand to be henpecked, they'd only have to sit on Kamen, or Lil' Debbie, or Penny.

By the way, this hen is Koa, she's rosy colored. And I can point out Liberty, because she is the Cuckoo Maran with a tweaked beak. Lilikoi is the only Buff. Mako is the Ameracauna with a black, Alaskan Whaler's beard. As for the other Cuckoos and two Ameracaunas... your guess might be as good as mine. I know their names, of course, I just don't happen to know which name goes with which bird. Pele and Totoro are practically twins, and then the three Cuckoos might be stuck as Thompson, Thomson, and Tamsyn, forever.

Technically speaking, the cottage has plenty of roosting space for all the chicas, but the old guard are particular and intimidating and only a few of the new pullets dare to roost in the cottage.

The rest of the flock have always sought shelter in their transitional coop, the old rabbit hutch, so Geoff obliged them with a roost.

Do Malcolm and Inara Rabbit mind giving up their hutch? Not a bit. Once they had the chance to be free-roaming buns, they never looked back. They go all over the palace, and are happiest after all the hens are tucked in for the night, then they can enjoy peaceful romps and explores. They have a small pet shelter, beside the chicken cottage, where they can duck-in in damp weather, but most days they are stretched out, together and in the open.

Goat side, things get some wear and tear. They love to stand on the chairs, and they love to knock over the chairs. Look at the pine trunk we planted. They gnawed the bark off, almost to the top. When they aren't nibbling at the stump, they are using it as scratching post.

As for their cottage... well, they use it. They need it. There is nothing scarier to them than water coming down on them. No sprinkles. No raindrops. No splashes! They are not friends with water. Poor, funny goats. So, they have a shelter, and I even put in some curtains, to keep the rain from blowing in on them. And believe me, you will not find them anywhere else but their cottage, even in the lightest drizzle. So. You would think they would take care...

Take care not to damage their dear cottage? Take care not to leave themselves in dire peril?

Yes, this is the sad truth in our Goat-Rabbit-Chicken Palace update. Those goofy girls took out one slat, somehow. And, I guess, the rest must have been even easier than the first.


Repairs, soon. Strong, reinforced repairs.

The best news in our update is for clean-up. I have a smaller tined rake, which is handy for leaves, straw, and feathers, and I have a broom which is good for everything else, and I love my long handled dustpan. I can stay upright, sweeping and scooping. The problem came with separating the dirt from the everything else I was trying to get rid of. I was basically sweeping out the ground cover, a costly, heavy, waste. I needed something to filter out the dirt, while leaving the droppings, and larger debris, and I shared my dilemma, and an idea with, Geoff.

I described a low box with a screened bottom. It gets filled with the waste, we shake it, and voila! Compost in the tray, and good dirt back on the ground! He built me a gorgeous thing! TIG welded aluminum, with 1/4" square hardware cloth. It works like a charm! The yard is looking much better... well, except for that poor kicked-in cottage wall!

And now we have this amazing haul to add to the compost pile. It's not much to look at now, but just think of the spring garden!

I tried. Believe me. I took one picture after another of the goats, but they were too frisky and inquisitive to cooperate. This is the best I could do, at great risk to my skirt, too.

Ada Lovelace Goat! Don't eat my skirt!


judy in ky said...

I love the way you care for your animals. They are very lucky.

warren said...

Problem + welder = genius waiting to happen!

CJ said...

Geoff is a treasure I think, the sieve is a marvel. Your animal enclosure is wonderful. I'd love chickens and bunnies in something similar. Not sure about goats though, I think I'd need to start small.

Silly Little Sheep said...

I absolutely love the goat!! If I happen to live somewhere with lots of space, I need to get one or two. I worked at a zoo, spent a lot of time with goats and they are absolutely amazing creatures. And yes, they did like bark, throwing stuff over and scratching - a lot. And also chewing on ANYTHING that got near, whether it was a bead on flip flops, baggy sweater or my knee. Ouch! They are incredible and yours looks so cute and friendly :)

rhonda jean said...

It's a great environment for your feathered and furred friends. I love the chair in the coop. I'm going to find an old chair and place it under the pecan tree in our chicken run. Thanks for the idea. I'm sure my girls will love it.