As promised, I’ve finally taken some photos of the coop. I would’ve done it much sooner but by the time we get home from work, it’s pitch black outside. Next up, photos and introductions of the chickens!
After losing one of our chicks, it took us some time but we finally got up the nerve to try again. This time I read everything I could about chick health and decided the key this time around was probiotics. I love probiotics. I take them, my kid takes them, husband, the dog…You get the idea. Naturally, it only seemed right to give them to the chickens. We bought a jar of Rooster Booster, which has electrolytes and probiotics, at the farm supply store, mixed it in a jug of water and gave it to them every time we refreshed their water supply (pretty much daily.) They’ve thrived. I can’t say for sure it was the Rooster Booster but it’s really the only thing we did differently so it gets my recommendation.
The other surprise, besides the fact that these birds lived, is how fast they’ve grown. We expected to have a couple of months before they would need a coop to move into. Nope, these babies are getting big. The last couple of weekends have been devoted to coop building.
We researched coop plans and bought the book Building Chicken Coops For Dummies. Bjorn and I were both very intrigued by the this green roof garden coop . The design is beautiful and I love the idea of adding some extra growing space, perhaps growing treats for the birds on top of their coop. But we also knew we wanted to add a couple more birds at some point and after reviewing the plans, decided it probably wasn’t big enough for what we want to do. We settled instead on the Garden Coop . My husband and father-in-law studied the plans over a jug of wine and decided to make a few modifications. I was nervous but it’s nearly done and looking great. The garden coop plans ask you not to post photos of the coop while it’s being built but I promise to post them as soon as it’s done.
It’s been a little while since our last post, however we’ve been hard at work focusing on the Coops part of our journey. It’s a sad story… a few weeks ago we finally purchased two chickens, they were approximately 4 weeks old and I didn’t expect them to be so cute. We gathered everything our new friends needed; a heat lamp, feeder, water dish, thermometer, pine shavings and fancy temporary shelter until they were old enough to move into their brand new coup (which still needs to be built). The fancy shelter was a large Rubbermaid bin that I replaced the cover of with a chicken wire top that I fashioned out of 2×2′s and staples.
It was a perfect set up for them and it was really enjoyable listening to them chirp and holding them each day. We named them Mango and Bean. We became attached. They were a part of the family.
Two mornings ago I walked into change their water and I found Bean’s lifeless body. She had passed away in the night and I still can’t figure out what happened. We did everything according to the book and we still lost her. It was a very depressing few days and Mango seamed distraught. Maybe I am anthropomorphizing a chicken, but I swear she was crying these last few days.
We spoke with the company that sold us the chickens and they were very understanding about the whole situation and they said they’d have a new batch of chicks in two weeks. I expressed how I didn’t think Mango would handle being alone for 2 weeks and they agreed. Chickens depend on each other for safety. If they are alone too long they tend to lose it. I read that in our chicken book. So, today I returned her to the store and we are starting over with 3 new chicks on the 18th. I felt bad saying goodbye, but I think in the long run it’s the best thing to do. Besides there is a small part of me that still has Mango as one of the prime suspects in the unexplained death of Bean. I think I’m going to run a camera on the next batch.
It’s been a month and I can easily say composting (so far) has been a success! Of course, a couple of months from now when everything has had a chance to turn into compost will be the real test. But as of now, we have certainly reached our goals. We’ve successfully:
Overall, I’m very pleased with composting. I wish I started it earlier. I always felt like it would be more difficult or harder to accomplish than it really is. If it’s something you want to try, I encourage you to dive in and see what you think. Even in a small space, composting is possible with a worm bin. These instructions are complete and easy to follow.
Next month’s topic will be simple living. Topics we’ll cover are reducing clutter, garage sales, simplifying meal time and other items related to simple living. We also get our first chickens at the end of June. So, July will be chicken month. We hope you’ll join us.
I’m amazed at all of the things you can toss into a compost bin. We put a glass jar on the counter to collect kitchen scraps. At first, we had to remind each other “oh wait, that egg shell can go in the jar” or “here’s a tea bag, I think this can go in the jar.” By the end of the week, it’s now like second nature. And the pile is growing! Fruit pieces, veggie ends and peels, coffee grounds…all diverted from the trash to the compost bin.
It’s heartening to know that things that we would otherwise have tossed out are now going to be turned into something we can use on our yard and garden. I mean, we buy compost every spring. We could’ve been making it all along.
This weekend, there is yard work galore to do so the yard “waste” will be joining the kitchen scraps in the bin. We’re also starting to use G diaper inserts that are supposedly home compost compatible. We’ve been using their diaper covers with a cloth insert off and on. (Daycare insists on disposables.) But I’m really excited to try out the inserts that can then be composted. Maybe I can even convince daycare to just humor me and use them too. I’ll report back on how well they work and whether it looks like they are breaking down in the composter or not.
I have to admit that I was dreading putting together the composter we purchased. It came in a box with a lot of parts and pieces and I was having flashbacks to prior nightmare experiences with putting together furniture. I was expecting a frustrating time and the invention of new swear words.
I am happy to report that it was actually kind of fun. Lifetime (the brand of the composter) did a very nice job with the directions that were included. Everything was laid out, labelled and poka-yoked. I’m not saying I had an easy time with it, but it eventually turned out to be pretty fun. Although everything was mapped out for me in advance, including all the tools I needed, I rushed into the project without taking the time to read what I was about to do. I don’t recommend doing that. Additionally the directions state that it’s a two person job. I put it together alone and it would’ve been a lot easier having assistance.
One funny example of not taking my time at first was putting together the base. There are two Outer Housing Brackets that are supposed to be on the outside. It even points this out in the directions. I put them on the inside and had to take all it apart when I realized it after putting the base together and drilling holes into the metal with the self-tapping screws.
I do recommend this composter. They do a great job with the directions. You simply have to take your time, have a friend help you and change your perception from thinking that it’s going to be a terrible time to “I get to have fun with power tools and socket wrenches!” An additional awesome feature is that when finally completed it looks really similar to a Borg Spaceship from Star Trek. I plan to tell table scraps that resistance is futile and they will be assimilated.