Greenhouse

Winter on the farm 2

On New Year eve winter at last came to Montreal. I am not sure about people, but chickens are happy for sure!

Chickens meet me on the snow

Chickens meet me on the snow

The old tempo tent holds well and gives enough protection for chickens to spend all day outdoors.

Tempo tent serves well as a chicken run and a storage for compost

Tempo tent serves well as a chicken run and a storage for compost

 

Farby managed to hatch a chick! And I added her 3 more so the first one would’t be bored. Farby sat on eggs in total for at least 31 days!

Farby hatched a chick in January

Farby hatched a chick in January

There is less danger of predators in the greenhouse so I  simply turned the broody cage on the side to let Farby and here chicks wander around. Other chickens greeted them.

Farby and chicks can roam free in the greenhouse

Farby and chicks can roam free in the greenhouse

 

To protect winter greens from frost (and from chickens) we covered them with a layer of plastic. This seems to work well so far.

Winter greens under double cover

Winter greens under double cover

Winter on the farm

Late start of the previous 2015 year winter gave us a chance to finish all planned preparations.

Mobile chicken coop parked for winter. I added a tempo tent as a chicken run and compost cover.

Mobile chicken coop parked for winter. I added a tempo tent as a chicken run and compost cover.

We moved the mobile coop to the main farm,  attached its water heater to electricity, added a tempo tent for chicken run, prepared the greenhouse and planted winter greens.

Attempting to store seed potatoes in woodchips

Attempting to store seed potatoes in woodchips

I even had time to set an experiment to store potatoes, recycled from the grocery store. I dug them into a pile of wood chips.

Though, wet and warm winter start was  not good for chickens. I lost many of them to deceases. Most likely because of stale water under the coop and around it.

chickens dead from decease because of wet and warm winter

chickens dead from decease because of wet and warm winter

In spite of all problems chickens continued to lay eggs. The egg productions drastically dropped, but never stopped entirely. Even in the shortest day we had some eggs.

Eggs laid on shortest day of the year

Eggs laid on shortest day of the year

The funniest of all was a hen called Farby. She decided to get broody, probably to cover the losses. I was routinely taking her eggs, but she sat on new eggs each day. Finally, on December 23rd I got 6 straw bales as a present. I took this as a sign to let the nature prevail. So Farby got her private quarters with straw the same day. By this time she was sitting on different eggs for at least 10 days.

dr. Squicky on eggs second time in the same year

dr. Squicky on eggs second time in the same year

 

 

 

Greenhouse restored

The snow melted at last and it’s a time to restore the collapsed greenhouse. Actually we restored it 3 times… after each “last” big snowfall. But now it should be good with all the supporting posts added.

We restored the greenhouse and planted first crops

We restored the greenhouse and planted first crops

It’s amazing, but spinach planted back in December, before the second collapse sprouted now very well. Also the “worm” trench is full of water now. Too bad for worms, but very convenient to water the new seeds. We planted lettuce, radish, coriander, peas and sunflowers for sprouts.

Golden Eggs

It’s all started from mid March. With the Sun rising the greenhouse became hotter during the day. Approximately in the same time egg production started to drop.

First, both dogs were caught stealing eggs. They reasoned that the eggs were not mentioned in the contract… I had to install a gate to prevent dogs from getting into the shelter.

Jenko before the new gate

Jenko before the new gate

Maya is drinking from chicken waterer

Maya is drinking from chicken waterer

Then the construction of a rocket stove came with dust, some noise and many people. Chickens actively participated in the construction. They cleaned new excavations from all what can move, tasted construction materials for allergens and entertained the general public.

Chickens on the construction of a rocket stove

Chickens on the construction of a rocket stove

But even without dog interference eggs didn’t return. It’s not clear why. May be because of the gate? Sharp temperature swings in the greenhouse? Something is missing in the diet (or some extra stuff from the construction)?

Though chicken look happy and active and eat well.

Treating chicken lice

Lina with Petrus the silent

Lina with Petrus the silent

On Tuesday we decided to do a checkup for chickens and tag them. While on check-up my kin-eyed Lina discovered a kind of lice on many chickens.

After consulting Internet I decided to dusts them with wood ashes. Daniel agreed to help me.

Daniel calms down a chicken

Daniel calms down a chicken

Daniel treats Bertha the chicken

Daniel treats Bertha the chicken

And showed a great talent in calming the birds. We did the job in parallel. While my chickens were nervous scratching with their legs and flapping their wings. Daniel’s chickens were calm and relax. They pooled their legs with joy and barely needed to be held at all.

Two questions still remain open: what kind of the lice/mites have our chickens and whether our treatment will help.

Chickens update

First time 5 eggs – the new record for Feb 17, 2015

So far all chickens are doing well. Some of them lay eggs regularly from the first day. We don’t buy eggs already 2 weeks!

Egg production chart for Feb. 27 2015

It looks like at least 6 of 8 white chickens lay eggs regularly. It’s hard to say anything about brown ones.

Some small problems also came out.

Scaly Leg Mites

Scaly Leg Mite Feb 20, 2015

I discovered scaly leg mites on poor Bertha the chicken.

Daniel helps to treat Berta the chicken,

Daniel helps to treat Berta the chicken, Feb 22 2015

So we had to do a simple treatment to her.

 

Bertha after treatment Feb, 27 2015

Bertha after treatment Feb, 27 2015

Now she seems much healthier and happier.

Also we received an official visit from two farm dogs. Chickens were accepted (with some suspicion) under protection.

We have got chickens!

Open Air chicken coop

Open Air chicken coop

I’ve finished the open air chicken coop by the end of January. When I started to search for chickens ready for winter, I discovered there none for sale! All chickens, even hardy breeds are kept in heated coops (or at least under a heating lamp). My first reaction was to reschedule the chickens for April. But then I recalled that the new greenhouse on the main farm is standing empty from Autumn.  After consulting with Benoit, the next simple design came out:

Greenhouse Chicken Shelter

Greenhouse Chicken Shelter

I call it a “Chicken Toaster” because of heating fan and a temperature sensor at the top. It took 2 hours to make the whole “system”.

Now I could buy chickens. I found a advertisement on Kijiji about young laying hens for $7 each, that is cheaper than usual. There was some suspicion about the place, because chickens are usually sell fast and those were still available for more then 2 weeks. Olivier called them also and also didn’t like the answers.

After some hesitations I decided to go and see the chickens in Saint-Lin.

Just the view of the farm confirmed my hesitations, but when I saw the poor, beak-mutilated orphans with frostbitten combs and crooked fingers my hart broke and I bought 15 hens and 1 rooster. I probably had to buy (actually to save) more, but there was a lot and I couldn’t save all…

Transporting chickens

Transporting chickens

Chickens are very compact! They packed for me 15 chickens  + 1 rooster in 5 grocery boxes. The rooster was alone, in one box there were 5 chickens, how other were placed, I don’t remember.  All chickens were extremely calm and submissive. All the way they were so calm that I started to fear if they are still alive.

15 chickens on a single slade

15 chickens on a single slade

They calmly allowed to pool them in one ride to the greenhouse,

Hungry chickens at the feeder

Hungry chickens at the feeder

and were very happy to have some food and water. I decided to start from their usual feed and later slowly switch to more natural diet and food scrap.

Chickens in the temporary shelter

Chickens in the temporary shelter

They also accepted their shelter. Poor things are not accustomed to roost. So some of them went to sleep on the floor this night.

First egg!

First egg!

When I returned home I discovered in one of the boxes a humble present from my chickens – the first egg!

It was slightly broken by rough handling of the boxes, but still very tasty!

Short report for the year 2014