Newbie Farmer 1

So, there is a new rag on Quadra called the Gumboot Press.  We are now columnists for said newspaper, chronicling our deeds and misfortunes as we enter the world of farming…. As well last issue they did a great article on yours truely…. here’s the link! Well it’s just a link to the Gumboot but eventually there will be an article up.   Anyhow here is the first Newbie Farmer column about….. CHICKENS!

The Chicken Hoop

Every spring the flowers bloom, the birds come back from points south, and we get a little too enthusiastic about hatching chicks.  Three years ago we bought a whole flock of Araucanas from a breeder from Victoria and then started buying Naked Neck chickens from Quadra. Flock size: 12

Two years ago we went on vacation to Nova Scotia and brought home a couple dozen fertile Americana eggs cradled in our laps on the airplane. That year we also bought more Americanas from Denman and our very own egg incubator.  Flock size: 30

Last year we bought a second incubator and started our breeding program for the neck feather-less, tail-less Naked Araucana.  The year was an abject failure in hatching as we either under or over cooked our eggs in the incubator.  Flock size: 20 (Raccoons!)

This year we figured out our incubators and have now finished our 4th hatch and now need homes for 75 more chickens than we had last year. Historically our chickens range freely about the yard, gardens, deck, and occasionally one figures out the dog door and winds up in the living room, but there are too many now for that to be.  I have also been reading (silly me) Pastured Poultry for Profit$ by Joel Salatin and have been inducted into the Polyface Cult.  He’s all about grass fed poultry, so here we are looking into light and easy chicken coop design. The whole idea basically means that we get grass mowing, fertilizing and insect control in the vineyard done in one fell swoop.

“To the Interwebs!” I cried.  I found a great little hoop house design that could be interchangeable for use as either a greenhouse or a chicken coop both of which we are in desperate need of.  Then I said “ Ben, build this?  Please?”

Mark 1:  Ben came up with a design that used rebar mesh for the structure with the base out of pressure treated wood.  TOOO FREAKING heavy.  We needed a tractor to move this one.  It’s now in the garden and there it shall stay as a semi-permanent greenhouse.

Mark 2:  Ben replaced the wood with PVC.  Not too bad for lightness, we need to cover the roost space a bit more with a tarp but overall not too bad….. However, way too expensive.  The PVC is about 3 times the price of wood.  We have put some chickens in the coop and they are happily mowing the grass, scratching away and laying eggs.

Mark 3: Replacing the upper frame with wood rather than PVC.  The bottom frame is still PVC for ease of dragging but as of now, the structure remains unfinished, we’ll see how it goes…..

Mark 4:  This will be the one that we will mass market!!!! Mwahahahaha.

Well ,that’s it for this episode of the Newbie Farmer.  Until next time; may your lettuce not bolt.

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