Down to the wire

DSC02481.JPG We got quite a bit done of the chicken palace, I mean coop over the weekend. The weather on Saturday was awful, clear and cold, but really windy, so we didn’t do much outside at all. Sunday was gorgeous, though, and we made real progress pretty quickly. Having two cordless electric drills was a huge help. We do a lot of screwing around here!

DSC02562.JPG DSC02564.JPG After we got all the sides done, we put the rafters up, and Frank said I don’t get to have gabled buildings anymore because they are hard and time-consuming. Shed roofs from now on. We’ll see about that! I think it looks really good. He even topped it off with the traditional pine branch, an old Druid custom thanking the gods for the wood.

DSC02574.JPG DSC02573.JPG We can’t dig the metal roofing that we have for it out of the snow and ice yet, so that wafer board is going to have to hold for a little while on its own, which should be okay. We did put the metal roof ridge thing on, which will keep the rain from that seam, anyway. We’ve still got to attach the windows that we scrounged from his mother, make nest boxes and attach perches, all before we leave Thursday morning.

I asked around on a few message boards for suggestions on the placement of the nesting boxes and perches, and I think we’re going to go with nest boxes along the back windowless bit, and put the perches all on one end, near a window, at varying heights. The other end with the window is going to get my worm compost bins, the feeders and the waterer. The worm bins are just to keep them warm and active, and to keep us from having to deal with the flies in the house. We’ll be sure to strap the bins down well, but figure the birds will like the extra protein.

DSC02554.JPG My buddy Buster is doing well. The horn is now dark brownish, headed toward black, instead of that scary bright red it was for a few days. I even saw him scratching it on the fence, so it must itch or something, and not hurt. He is as frisky and friendly as ever, though he is starting to show some interest in his sisters. Miguel ceremonially bashes the fence post, and Buster just steps away. I am so ready to be done with breeding season! We have checked their common fence line for any possible openings a bunch of times just in case. Buster, stay!

DSC02569.JPG DSC02571.JPG When we were putting the roofing on the side near the llamas, Frank went into their pen with the ladder, to see if he could reach that side better from there. Man did the llamas shoo the sheep and themselves into their shelter quickly! Scary, Daddy. Big, brave Bill rushed right back out to see what it was, and butted the ladder for good measure, after licking it to see if it was yummy. The girls were all humming and upset, so Frank put the ladder on the ground and let them come check it out. They, too, tasted it and found it yucky, but at least not scary on the ground like that.

DSC02506.JPGValerie came by on Sunday with Angel, who just absolutely loved playing in the snow. Angel will be a real help when our new Icelandic sheepdog puppy arrives here, next week! She is great with the sheep, and plays well with other dogs, and our little guy is going to need a friend. He’s leaving a big dog pack, and is going to be a lone dog here for a while. Valerie thinks we should name the puppy Bjarki, which means little bear in Icelandic. We haven’t a clue how it is actually pronounced, of course, but it seems to fit him.

DSC02515.JPGValerie also helped us with checking condition on the sheep. I was worried because the hay consumption had gone way back up, and I had horrible thoughts that maybe Buster had been a busy boy before Valerie got him away from the ewes. She was struggling with separating him from his mama, because the big boys were all beating him up, so she’d put him back with the girls. We got him out by Thanksgiving, but what if that was too late? He was barely 5 months old then. Anyway, everyone’s condition is pretty good, actually. No one is too thin, no one is too fat, if we are checking properly. We got consistent opinions, though, and the flock is pretty uniformly conformed.

DSC02575.JPGSo then, if that was the case, why the increased hay consumption? We figured out that the hay feeders legs had become buried in the bedding and snow, and needed to be repositioned, so that the sheep couldn’t pull the hay out and eat it on the ground like they prefer. There was probably six to eight inches of snow, plus the waste hay that you could see in the hole when we moved it. The feeders had just gotten too close to the ground, and a lot of hay was being wasted again. We got them all moved, and like magic, are back to the right amount of hay each day. We’ll watch out for that more closely now that we realize what is happening.

We ordered a chicken transportation coop from Murray McMurray, and had it sent directly to the farm where we are picking up the chickens. Supposedly it will fit into our Audi. We also got some cedar litter, which should hopefully keep down the smell in the car. I keep thinking that we are insane to do this, but oh well! That’s never stopped us before. Doesn’t everyone want Icelandic chickens to match their sheep and their dog?

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