Monday, March 21, 2011

New Chicks!

We have been busy building a chicken coop at Bramblewood, the first structure to grace the new farm. It's coming along nicely, but taking longer than it should because of all the rain. I read that this area averages 17 days of rain in March, and we've had at least 19 so far. The area of excavation and building (all by hand) around the coop is a sticky muddy mess, so I headed out to the feed store for a couple of bales of straw. I got the straw, but I also came home with chicks. :-)
We have been planning on getting 5 new chickens; 3 Barred Plymoth Rocks and 2 Rhode Island Reds, but I figured we'd get them in a few weeks. Well, the feed store had just those two varieties, with other breeds coming in over the next couple of months, but no more of these particular two. It seemed rather fortunate, and since Aidan was begging and making promises of all the work he will be doing if we could just get the chicks today, I figured now was as good a time as any.
It was pretty nice just having to buy food and grit, knowing that we have everything at home from last year. We brought the chicks home, scrubbed and sanitized everything, and they are chirping away merrily. I think they are about six days old.

Here they all are:

And here is a close-up of the tiniest of the flock:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicken Waterer

A few months ago I read on a blog about how to make a chicken waterer with a bucket and poultry nipples, but now I can't find the blog, so unfortunately can't give proper credit to the inventor of this ingeneous little waterer.
It's pretty simple, so at least I remember how to do it. Theirs did involve two buckets, cutting the bottom off of one and then sliding this completed one inside with a little glue so that you can fill it easily and not crush the nipples on the ground, but I figure we can just set ours on a couple of scrap pieces of 2x4 while we fill it. In our climate, mold is a real concern, and I didn't want cracks I can't get to and clean.

Here is how we made ours:
First I ordered some nipples from, STK# WC1030
and a food safe bucket lid (I ordered mine from Azure Standard, but unless you already order from them as a co-op member, you'll have to find one somewhere else. I already had a food safe bucket scavenged from a friend who works at a natural foods store.
The nipples were only $2.05 each & you only need two for each waterer, but the shipping was $11+ whether I ordered 2 or 4, so I ordered 4, figuring I'll be making another waterer eventually anyhow.

Here is what you need:
3 or 5 gallon bucket with lid
2 poultry nipples
11/32 drill bit
silicon (you can buy a small squeeze tube and you won't even need the caulking gun, but I happened to have both of these latter items on hand already)
scissors or in my case wire cutters to snip silicon tube end

I also found these items handy during the process:
pliers (to tighten nipples; looks like they can be tightened with a socket wrench, but pliers were closer and worked just fine)
paper towel to wipe excess silicon and popcicle stick to smooth it:

First, drill two holes in the bottom of bucket:

Screw the nipples (from the outside bottom of the bucket) in by hand and then tighten with pliers:

Apply silicon around the base of the nipples, on the outside bottom of the bucket (I smoothed mine with a poscicle stick, but it's probably not necessary:

Let dry for 24 hours, then wash everything, fill with water, put the lid on, and hang from a chain, which is attached to hooks installed in the coop frame. The actual making of the waterer was less than 10 minutes, but of course there is the gathering of supplies and subsequent clean-up, but all in all a very easy project that my 10 and 14 year old sons put together all by themselves with my assistance and direction.
Apparently, some people's chickens catch right on and other's don't, so I can only guess that like many animal "issues", the problem is with the people. One blogger mentioned clicking the little nipples and showing the chickens what to do, and they went for them right away. I'll let you know how it goes and share a couple of pictures of the completed project, as well as it in use.