Monday, October 26, 2009

Pictures of our Milkbarn Converted into a Chicken Coop

Last Summer we fixed the fencing around this old dog pen, and put a chicken wire roof over it.   We moved our guinea keets into it.  The guineas lived in it through the winter.  We hoped they'd use the doghouse for shelter, but they didn't.  Um, three of them froze to death, the dog caught one once, and we had one surviving guinea hen.

This Spring we moved our chickens into the same pen with the surviving guinea once they were big enough to leave the basement.  We've spent the rest of the summer trying to decide where to move them.  I wanted them near the house as they had been, so I could easily watch them and hear them.  So we considered converting part of a nearby outbuilding and adding a fence.  But, that was going to take almost as much work as building a new coop. 

The chickens were happy here and they laid their eggs inside the doghouse, and also between the doghouse and the fence.  We could access some of the eggs by moving a brick and reaching under the fence, but we also had to go inside and check inside the doghouse daily.  We put a metal pan in the dog house finally, because it was too deep to reach to the far corner.  We were using a stick to roll eggs out of it each day, and cracked several. After we put the pan in, we'd just use the stick to pull the pan forward, retrieve the eggs, and push the pan back inside again.

Cold weather came early this year, and we still hadn't decided what to do.  Finally, we agreed to move them to the old milking barn, even though it meant I could no longer watch or hear them from the kitchen.

The milk barn has thick stone walls, but only one window.  That window was boarded up, but Steve and I put a sheet of plexi-glass in place.  It has a few gaps around the edges we couldn't completely caulk, but it still stops most of the cold wind.   (The chickens are enjoying one of our watermelons that didn't get fully ripe, and some other veggie scraps from the garden.)

We thought they might roost over on these milking stanchions, but they never do.  Our feeder is meant to hang, but we just set it on bricks and put a pan on top to protect the food.  It's fairly dark in this barn, and we haven' t yet made the fence outside chicken-proof.  So they are stuck in here, but they're still laying. 

We were able to create roosts easily, by re-purposing farm clutter left by Steve's grandparents.  The metal gate is sitting in a brick with a groove, and leaning against the stone wall.  Several chickens usually roost on the top of this, and sometimes they lay their eggs under it.

More chickens actually roost on the old ladder we laid over two old sawhorses that were already here in the barn.  And some of them roost in the window, even though we clipped one wing before moving them in here.

We re-purposed these old tires that were lying around to be their nesting boxes.  They haven't laid a single egg in them.  Although they have laid a few between them or behind them. 

Speaking of re-purposing items ... there isn't any running water out by the barn anymore.  So we have to haul water to them.  Our first few attempts were messy, using a wagon to move their waterers back and forth, or carrying pitchers to the barn.  Then I realized if we used an empty gallon milk jug, it wouldn't spill.  We just take out a gallon of water in a milk jug each day and fill one or more of the waterers.  If we do this once a day (sometimes twice) we are able to always keep their waterers filled.

They like to lay their eggs in this corner, and we often find 3 or 4 here.  Of course, they also like to lay them in other places, and it's a bit of an Easter egg hunt each day, to find the chosen spots of the day.  Sometimes we have to watch where we walk, because one will be lying in the middle of the room.

Happy chickens and happy rooster in their new WARM winter home.  There isn't any electricity out here, so it's dark and they're going to have to make their own heat, but it will be fine.  It's more than enough room for 1 rooster, 23 hens, and 1 guinea hen.

Next Spring we'll move our new chickens into the pen next to the house again, but these older ones are staying put in the barn for now.  If we ever decide we need the barn for some other larger animals, we'll have to build a new coop for the chickens.

Trusting In Him,

1 comment:

  1. They look like they are happy in that nice cozy area. What a great place for them.


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