So I let them loose. We've never had free-range chickens before, and now I know why. There was poop everywhere. They ate plants I didn't want eaten. They got into the garage and even the house (only once). Mr. Wiedz had had enough. He didn't want the chickens, he didn't like the chickens, but he would get something made for them outside...just no more free-ranging.
On project weekend (when the clothesline and play set were built) Mr. Wiedz and my dad set up a fence for the chickens. And Mr. Wiedz built them a nice roost/nest area. The only problem was that they had never roosted before (no roosting spot in the shed) and just couldn't for the life of them figure it out. They tried the fence (I lined it with cardboard to keep them off) and they eventually settled on sleeping in the nest and piling on one open area next to the nests. Mr. Wiedz saw the need for a better solution.
There's a funny thing about Mr. Wiedz. He has to "catch a vision" before he can do anything. Without a "vision" there's no project, it doesn't matter how many plans I draw out or discuss with him. So a couple weeks ago, he got the "vision" for the chicken coop and started to work. The funniest part was after each addition to the coop he'd have to sit and look at it for a bit to "see" the next part!
But what a great vision it turned out to be. A coop for the chickens that opens up at the nest boxes to get eggs (complete with a bench across it so the kids can reach in) and a hatch that opens in the back to allow for cleaning. They still had trouble with roosting, we had to put them on the roost the first night and they had trouble figuring out how to get down the next morning, but now they've figured it out!
And of course there were never a shortage of helpers.
Doesn't it look great?
Now along with all of this coop building we celebrated #1's birthday and our lovely neighbor/landlord gave her more baby chicks as a present. We were wanting a few more chickens since the 5 laying hens wouldn't be able to keep up with our family's needs and our landlord thought our chickens were so great he wanted some for himself. So my brooder was full of chicks again.
Only this time there were more chicks. And they grew out of the brooder a lot sooner. I asked Mr. Wiedz to build some sort of box but with all the coop building he couldn't "catch the vision" for the box I needed. Since I didn't need anything fancy I put two boards together in the corner of the shed and *snap* I had a box with more room for my growing chicks.
During #1's week at camp I noticed that there seemed to be fewer chicks. But I couldn't remember how many we started with. When she got home I asked, she said there were 15. OK, that's a problem, now there were 12. Then the next day there were 11. Then the next there were 9.
So I suggested to Mr. Wiedz that I could line the under area of the coop with left over chicken wire and make a more secure area for the chicks. He agreed that something needed done and this seemed like a good solution. He also agreed that we'd have to tell Mr. Landlord so he could get some more (he has a free supplier).
Monday, after we took Mr. Wiedz to the airport for a work trip and I got #5 down for bed I got out my supplies.
Documented what I was trying change. And noticed that sometime during the day our numbers went from 9 to 8.
Set to work getting chicken wire up.
And moved the chicks to their new home.
It was really funny to watch the older chickens (separated by two layers of fence from their new friends) react to the new chicks being put in the coop. The new chicks seem happy in their new digs and so far we still have 8 chicks.