Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Chicken Coop Saga

My husband and I(mostly my husband) reconstructed one of the hundred year old structures on the place into a chicken coop. Its past life was a feed storage building/calf feeder. We had to replace the floor and a door and replace wood so that it would be secure enough that raccoons would have a difficult time getting into it. We carefully used old wood that we have salvaged so that it would match our house and the original wood. The chicks have been using it about three weeks and it was working well.

The next step was to add the outside yard for the little chicks. We let the big chickens just roam, but need to control the environment more for the bitties. My husband worked a good part of the weekend transforming the calf feeding shed into a chicken yard. All we needed was a load of dirt to even out the area. I was going to take a picture when we were finished.

Monday, late afternoon, Mike(names changed to protect the innocent) delivered the dirt. When Mike dumped the dirt the back hatch hooked on the building and when the truck moved forward, the building moved too. Ripped from its foundation blocks, the hutch was teetering. I heard the screech and crash from my office and knew there was a small disaster. When I walked out, Mike was trying to decide what to do next. You know everyone, personally, here and it is hard to be mad at someone who you know feels terrible. He was able to get a backhoe and prop the building up with the backhoe arm while he moved the dump truck away. Then we could look at the damage. The coop was not sitting on the foundation blocks, and one side of the building was pulled away from the other three. The bitties were cowering in the corner. This is when my husband pulls in from a long day at work. Welcome home! He was speechless.

Night came and the building could not be fixed, then, so we wrapped chicken wire around the holes and covered the bigger holes with tin and wood and hoped for the best. Of course, the temperature was expected to drop and the chicks don't have all their feathers.

Yesterday afternoon, my dad and two or three of his workers, including the dirt man, came to fix the coop. They used two tractors and a backhoe to lift the hutch back onto the lighter stumps. They couldn't get the building level and replaced the stumps with concrete blocks so they would have more flexibility. In the meantime, they ripped the outside shed part off the structure and broke the ceiling joists. I couldn't watch. I got what they needed and went to my office to work. By nightfall there was still a gaping hole in the side of the building which we covered with a tarp, while the chicks cowered in the corner.

These are some tough chickens. I would have expected to have lost a few because of stress and cold. This morning the bitties were alive and well. I had to go through the chicken entrance (a hole two feet by three feet that was four feet off the ground) just to feed and water the chicks. Now that would have been a picture worth publishing for a few laughs. I should have used a ladder or something, but I wasn't thinking clearly. Then once your leg is that far up and lodged in there is no going back. I am glad no one was watching and that the chicken entrance is not facing the road. The town would have been a stir with gossip.

I'll keep you posted.


griffin said...

Wow --what a story! SO glad to hear the chicks came through, I was sure the story was going to end in tragedy rather than comedy! Wishing you luch with the repairs.

wisteria said...

Amazingly enough, the chicks are still doing great and I continue to amaze myself with my morning and evening acrobatics. I don't have to go through the chicken entrance anymore, but with the rain and the freshly dumped red clay, I may as well be ice skating. I never was good at that.