It seems as though it has been overcast and gray for about a month now! I don’t know if this is normal for this area or not. Though the temperatures have been cold, we’ve gotten use to it, and sometimes we say things like, “It’s only going to get down to 45 tonight.” All in all, we’ve been very pleased with the cooler temperatures but this doomy, gloomy cloud cover, and drizzly, mushy, wetness is getting old!
The hen house has been built out for a while now, but I’ve been waiting for sunny day to take pictures so I could have light coming in through the windows to get a better shot. The sun finally did come out. Then, Bud got sick.
It was bad, and I didn’t realize it at first. Bud usually hides things in order not to worry other people. Most people don’t even know when he is feeling bad or how tired he is, because he keeps a smile on his face and is able to maintain his good nature. I envy that a lot. When I have a bad headache, it’s written all over my entire being. I can’t hide it.
At first, Bud wouldn’t let me take care of him, or let me do anything for him…and he was being…well…I got upset. Later, I realized he probably was not in his right mind at the time, and his fever must have been really high. I haven’t seen him that sick during out entire marriage of 20 years. He was in bed for an entire week. The only time he’s ever been laid up in bed that long was when he had a staph infection on his leg, and the doctor ordered him to stay in bed. Needless to say, though I was worried he was so sick, I was grateful that he stayed in bed and finally let me take care of him.
He had chills that were so strong they hurt. I didn’t have a thermometer in the beginning. It was still packed up in storage somewhere. When I was able to get to town, I bought another one (along with a bunch of bland foods, or things I thought might taste good to him.) Bud had fever, chills, and ‘intestinal woe’ that manifested in various places. His joints ached. He barely ate anything, because nothing tasted good to him, or it made him nauseated. He didn’t want to go to the doctor. The whole time, I never got sick, so we think he probably had food poisoning. We had eaten at a new restaurant the day before he got sick. He is still very fatigued, but is eating normally now, and is on the mend.
Bud did such a great job on building out the hen house. I feel very blessed that he knows how to do this stuff. At first, the hens kept on lining up by the old shed we were housing them in, and we had to take them one by one to and put them into the new house for several nights. It took about three days for them to claim it as their new home. They now know where their new house is, and I think they really like it.
The picture above is the hen house door. Below is a larger picture of that side of the house. Eventually, we want to enclose this side with a covered run, so that we can keep the chickens contained if we need to. At times when we know that we will need to go somewhere and won’t be back before dark, we can put them in the run, and they can get inside to the the hen house and be safe until we can close the hen house door.
Helen and her chicks (which are now 11 1/2 weeks old) are still ‘hanging’ together. She hasn’t cut the apron strings yet, and shows no sign of doing so. They still sleep together. When they moved into the new house, I moved their cardboard box in for them. They only used it a couple of nights, and then I found all four of them crammed into a nesting box sleeping together. There are two others in there that you can’t see. I don’t know how they all fit in there without suffocating one another!
When Bud finished the brooder area, I moved them and made them sleep in there. They settled in pretty quickly, and that is where they are still sleeping. As far as I’m concerned, as long as I have broody hens, I’m going to let the mother raise the chicks, rather than raising them myself. There will be no need to put a door on the brooder area if that’s the case, but it can always be added later, and things rearranged if we need to.
There is plenty of roosting area, should we need to add to the flock. Hens poop a lot at night! Bud put ‘poop boards’ underneath the roosts. I covered with vinyl flooring, and I have a plastic scraper that I use to scrape the poop every day into a plastic litter box to be dumped for compost. With a little sawdust or wood shavings sprinkled on the vinyl, it’s easy to scrape off.
At the opposite end is a counter. Right now there are boxes with feed and scratch on them, but eventually those will go underneath. This will be my area to examine the chickens or tend to them if they have some problem or need a shot or something.
I’m very happy with the build-out, and the hens seem to be comfortable and happy there. We will eventually have hardware cloth on the windows to open when the weather gets warmer. We have vents above the windows with hardware cloth for winter venting. It’s important to have plenty of air flow, even in cold weather, since chickens are prone to respiratory ailments.
As I mentioned before, the inside of the building is unfinished. The loft will need to be finished out, and Bud has plans to put shelves for storage and organize his tools in the shop area on the other side. I’ll post pictures of how it looks right now (and our plans for it) in another post. There is so much to do here. It’s overwhelming if we think about it too much. Right now, we’re just trying to take one day at a time, and pray about it a lot!