After sitting on my hands for entirely too long, I ordered pullets yesterday. Then I spent some time thinking about how this was completely nuts. Then I got off my ass and herded the boys outside to play in the back and help me figure out the beeps’ transitional housing. You can’t just randomly add to your flock by throwing new chickens in with the old. Chicken flocks are as straftified as the Japanese Imperial Court, and they don’t use their words to maintain order. Newbies have to have some protection from the established birds until everyone gets used to each other and everyone’s status is determined.
Since the new girls are pullets (11-15 weeks old) and are fully feathered and of good-ish size-think the whole fryers at your market with feathers and feet and heads-we’re trying the playpen approach. Our neighbor gave us his granddaughter’s old dog crate, so we assembled that first:
I have no idea why the image is turned around! I know I oriented it correctly on my phone. Stoopid technology. Anyway, the crate is too big. So I made one out of welded wire and bamboo stakes:
There’s a top, and one of the panels has a little door, which I open up after a few days or so. We got a small feeder and waterer, and some chick crumble to see them through to 16 weeks, when they can eat layer pellets. This will go into the far end on the coop along the back wall, but away from the side and front walls and hopefully far from grabby hands of the human and raccoon type. It will sit in the sand, but will get the deep litter treatment for added warmth at night, and I’ll add bamboo stake for perching.
That black tub is the stock tank that will become the boys’ experimental planter. I’ll hang vertical pocket planters above it, which will shade that portion of the coop this summer, and help keep their water cool.
Since I waited too long to order coop-ready chicks (I wanted two Barred Rocks and two Black Australorps), the hatchery had sold out, leaving me with the choice of buying a breed I didn’t want, going up to pullets, or wating a month or so to see what was coop-ready then. So we have three Black Australorp pullets arriving Sunday. Yes, arriving! The hatchery is Dare 2 Dream farms, located on the Central Coast, and they deliver to the Bay Area. While we wait, we’ll tear up half of the front yard. We have French drains to install, Bermuda grass to dig out, paths to mark, and trees to buy and plant. I’ve been reading Ann Ralph’s Grow a Little Fruit Tree, and with her techniques, we should manage to fit eight trees into the front yard.
Quick shots of the back yard:
Patrick hauled off a bunch of debris, but there’s more (what else is new) off to the left. That’s the coop being eaten by the neighbor’s wisteria and creeping ficus, and all of my gardening stuff lined up against our other neighbor’s garage. We’ll eventually make a lean-to of sorts over there to protect the gear from the weather.
The gravel pit is in the right foreground. on the left is the site for the remaining play space, and the berry patch is all planted in in the background. There are eight blueberry bushes along the back half of the planter, and about thirty strawberry plants in the front, and I’ll keep adding to those when opportunities arise. the milk jugs you see poking up are being used as ollas, and I’m pleased to have an option for deep watering and feeding that didn’t cost an arm and a leg or require a bunch of new logistical planning. I do want to install a rain barrel and gravity-fed drip system, but this will do for now, especially if we get some more rain.
Off to deal with some more neglected parts of the house (aka the inside).