Last I wrote I had just finished moving the last three Brahmas from their space in the Cafe into the Palace with the Orpingtons. And the goats into THEIR space – the Cafe. So … it was chickens in the Palace – goats in the Cafe. The sun came out, the wind was warm, and the Palace seemed to be awfully busy with nine chickens instead of six. The ‘meet up’ of the Brahma hens and the Orpingtons went way better than I expected. All the same … they needed some air and some place they could dig – but they are all inside to avoid contracting avian influenza.
That all occurred to me as I hit the couch after lunch for a bit of a rest. Ever heard that saying, “Busy hands and idle minds have knitted many a sweater; Busy minds and idle hands have knitted many a brow”? That was me – bouncing between thoughts of avian influenza and thoughts of building yet another addition to Critterville in our back paddock. Thoughts of how happy Paddy’s flock is in their four room coop space and run. Happy INSIDE because they have ample space to dig down into the dirt – and a fair chance at finding bugs and worms come spring. Thoughts of how calm it was when the goats had their own good digs to disappear into on bad weather days – like the one that was looming today.
After discussing the dilemma with Ede we managed to sort it out. There was a perfect solution right in front of us! PUT THE GOATS IN THE PALACE! We have wavered near this solution a number of times … but the time and effort that went into designing that ‘Pinterest Perfect’ coop always made us veer away. The Palace had shelving we had built to line both long walls. Shelving that made a great poop bar. The perches were accessible (after a few modifications) to even the biggest chickens. For PEOPLE it made life much easier. No bending or crawling around to clean the coop. Just walk along and scoop! However for a chicken it meant a hard floor under soft bedding with no dirt – no bugs – no dust baths. And when we are in ‘flockdown’ with no outside access … that’s a sterile life for a dirt-loving ground-scratching hen or rooster.
I jumped back up and headed outside. That was around two in the afternoon. I made it back inside for 8:30 to warm up with a bowl of soup. It was well worth the effort! Plus it sure added up to a lot of steps on my daily step count! 😉
I needed to install protection for the windows. The Palace has six windows! Some spare pallets came in handy. I can reach through the slats to open and close the windows. The goats can get the breeze and the sunshine without the worry they would break the windows either standing against them or butting the glass panes. I decided to keep the farthest third of the Palace intact as a chicken area. It can be my ‘infirmary’. That meant I only had to remove the perches from the south wall shelves and the extra shelving and perches from the north wall. Plus all the chicken feeders, waterers, compost bins …
Once I saw the goats on the shelves … I wondered if they were going to be wide enough for them to sleep on. They certainly managed overnight and were up there again when I just was out checking on everyone.
It has been the perfect place for them to spend today. Neither Dot nor May are fans of snow or rain. Normally they would have spent the day lounging in the jenny’s barns … while the jennies looked on from their wind shelter across the paddock. This morning I added a gate to the north door – which gives them a view of the paddock – and a tie-back for the east door which gives them a view into the jenny’s barn and the back and side yards of the house.
Open doors – plenty of hay – and a soft straw floor added up to happy goats. It also added up to happy donkeys – undisturbed where ever they wanted to sleep the day away. And a happy me … knowing everyone was someplace warm and dry. (It will also make cleaning up teeny tiny goat poops a job I can handle with a broom!)
This morning as we all looked out at the SNOW the Brahmas were introducing their new flock mates to the Cafe. I had moved them in just before dark and made sure they all found their way to a perch. There is a little attached ‘anteroom’ that serves as their night coop.
I knew the Orpingtons would have no problem getting up onto the perch. The big Brahma hens … could have been another matter. But by dark they had figured it out. There is a moveable perch that sits horizontal to this view that I added in when I closed up the door. And when I left them this morning there were two hens in the nesting boxes. Smoothest combination of two groups of chickens I have ever seen!
Norman and the Orps are zooming around digging up the floor to their heart’s content. This part of their coop has one wall that is open (with wire) to the south – with fresh air and a view of the weather. Two happy flocks of chickens, one happy flock of ducks and content jennies and goats meant …
… I could take the afternoon off and indulge in a movie. Tip … “Cell” (adaptation of Stephen King’s novel) has a rotten ending!!!
Weather says the rest of the week is shaping up to be great. Hugs from we Meadow Mice and our flerd companions!