Working on our chicken coop/goat hut has been a long and arduous process. Part of this is due to the fact we had the goal of building it almost entirely out recycled, old, and reclaimed items. Oh don't get me wrong, I drool over those fancy pants huts you see on Pinterest, but seeing how much waste we produce in our world, our goal became to A. not add to it and B. show this is a project which can be done, while admitting I wish the tin we found was all matching but next spring a spray can of paint may be taken to it ;) and C. I get messages over and over on the blog how people can't wait to be able to afford to move ...buy land... be able to "afford" to be self sufficient. Be encouraged... we are doing this on 2 rented acres!!!
Last year we were given panels from an old ranchers fence. At first we thought we would use these for our own fencing, but I decided they would make a beautiful and sturdy coop! At this point we had neither truck nor trailer to haul our find with but there was no deterring us. With the help of a kind friend, we brought our wood home. There are sooo many places.... even in a small town where one can get free cast off pallets! It might be amusing to watch someone like me tear them apart, but that's part of the fun of upcycling... giving your family something to laugh about!
Plans change quickly on a farm and the hut now houses goats on one side and chickens on the other. This was not the original plan but we decided it was more functional this way! The cold temperatures at 6000 plus feet require insulation and even heat on occasion. Not wanting to use electricity, we considered many options. Our small farm uses a lot of straw and it is readily available in our valley due to all the barley farmers.
At two dollars a bale, and the fact it can be later used for bedding, we decided it was a feasible way to insulate our animals from the cold weather. All the sides will be wrapped to protect it from snow and weather. Raising kids on the farm means every one has to pitch in... making these times memory making family times with lots of laughter and jokes makes the work go by faster. Building memories... building strong self reliant kids... building a life together is what it is all about.
Animals bring such joy and every time we are working in the farm yard, they are there ... poking their noses in to what ever we are doing. Lottie loves to be higher up than anyone... guess that's the Alpine in her!
Our chickens free range during the day, and so far we have had no hawk or other animal troubles. If these begin to occur, we will come up with covered chicken tractors and move them during the day. However, we get an enormous amount of snow here and our hens and roos don't care for it. In order not to lose too much feed to the snow and rain, a feed run was constructed. The sides and top will go on next... hopefully before too much more snow flies.
It takes a little creativity to use all those pallets. This is the back side to the nesting boxes. Nice and sturdy.... oh yeah and free!
Before construction was even finished the girls were checking out the boxes! We have a few gals who love nothing better than an old apple basket to lay their eggs so we included a couple of these we found at a second hand store down the road!
Happy and healthy animals mean self sufficiency for us! Collecting eggs and milking the goats is hard work, but it is good work that brings much joy!
At this time construction of a rocket stove to heat the hut for our sweet farm critters is under construction... but that project is another blog post for another day!
For those who have been following our escapades for a while, you will remember The Cowboy had a serious accident last summer. With chronic pain, chronic headaches, and sleep apnea as a result of said accident, he has a lot of time to think and ponder. In some ways this is good. He listened and watched some You Tube videos on feeding animals and really liked the idea of feeding ours fodder. Yes, it creates a little more work for us, but the health benefits for the animals and reduced costs for us make it well worth it! If you have not researched Fodder...then I URGE you to do so! You will be pleasantly surprised!
Since his accident, the cowboy MUST have help building anything. This is quite a change for him. I am thankful...every day for our sons...without them we would really struggle with simple tasks! Kris is building the fodder stand, which will fit into our "extra" shower. We don't bathe in there as the hot water has NEVER worked right. So, it makes a safe and clean place to grow something!
Bags of whole barley were bought. First step is to rinse it and then soak 6 cups covered in clean, fresh water.
A lot of sites will tell you to add bleach to your soaking water. We have chosen to use a small of amount of food grade hydrogen peroxide instead. Do your research and decide what works best for your situation.
Day one and the barley is beginning to sprout. It is so exciting see things growing! We spread the soaked and drained barley into seed flats we bought at a local green house. We just couldn't afford the expensive trays sold online!
It is necessary to water several times a day. We chose to attach ours to an automatic waterer with a timer! Drainage, temperature, and humidity are all factors in growing good fodder. There is a plethora of information out there on the web!
Our First healthy fodder tray! We realized we put too much barley in ...we have since corrected this issue and it grows in much thicker!
Choosing to feed LIVE food all year round benefits our animals and our pocket book! The animals utilize 80% of the live food over 30% of dry food... you do the math!! You feed less!!
Artificial lights on a stand in front of the growing space makes this a compact and easy setup! Your plants can be grown anywhere this way!
A healthy root system! No mold or extra un sprouted seed...this is what you are looking for!
This was a first attempt...you can see the un-sprouted seeds... we placed the layer of barley too thick which inhibited growth!
The goats love it soooo much, as do the chickens! Flower is always into everyone else's business even though she has food of her own!
Our young pullets just did not get what the fresh stuff was all about and just sort of stared at it like it was some fantastical art piece!
So, our older gal came over to teach them what it was all about.
Worried they were missing out, the young pullets finally had their first taste!
With a little help from "Miss Willow"... busted!
"Seriously? Must you post pictures of me with my mouth full of food?"
Even the new piggies are thrilled with the fresh new items on the menu!
The grass really is greener on the other side of the goat pen!
Ha!!! Queen of the Fodder Pile!
Feeding fresh food means a healthier life for our girls! I could not ask for anything better! I know we will see a difference in our eggs! (No, they won't be green!)
Nothing more wonderful than back yard chicken farming!