Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Chicken Moving Day

My shopping list for yesterday had three items, chardonnay, welded wire and pine shavings. What type of day does that suggest? The wine was for the dinner I wrote about yesterday the last two were for chicken moving day, which was also yesterday.

Like most moving days it never goes totally smoothly. Having dinner guests might sound like a lot to do on chicken moving day. Having guests is part of the plan though, because it’s not just the chickens that move. Their coop gets moved also. It weighs around 200 lbs and the guests are necessary to help move the coop.

The chickens are moved to their winter home, a short distance away into our garage/barn. Chickens can take very cold weather. It’s already been down to 8F degrees here. They have excellent insulation and the temperature inside a chicken coop is often a lot warmer than outside just due to the heat that they throw off. What they don’t like however is cold drafts. They need some ventilation, but the little coop that I built has way too much ventilation. I’d never built a structure before and there are some things I’d do differently next time. The doors are not tight at all and I fear that during a nor’easter, I’d come out and find snow-encrusted chickens. So their coop goes into the gararge/barn. This keeps them a few degrees warmer, especially on a sunny day and reduces wind and drafts to almost zero. There is electricity if I want to light the coop and I’m a lot more comfortable tending them when I’m not standing in the wind or up to my knees in snow. Inside the garage/barn I create a welded wire run by their coop so that when there’s too much snow on the ground they have an exercise area outside of the coop. There is a little chicken door from the garage to the outside for them to go out on good days and it all seems to work well for the hens and me.

The day did not go as planned. I had planned on buying the wine the day before, but the liquor store was closed Monday for holiday when I went for it, so it got added to Tuesday’s list. All went well getting the wine and welded wire fencing but when I went to the Agway for the shavings, they were out. I had not considered this possibility. They claimed there was a shortage because we were sending lots of logs to China??? I needed to drive to another shop much farther away for the shavings. I had already cleaned out the deep litter from the coop to lighten it for the move and if the second store was out of shavings I was going to be out of luck and on to plan C. They had the shavings and I was now an hour behind. Of course it also took me far longer to move the chickens to a pen in the garage/barn in preparation for the big move. I thought I could herd them, but some needed catching. I hate catching chickens. I usually end up scratched. Finally I could go start dinner for the guests who were soon to arrive. Dinner was good and we had fun. One of us said when we were all done and relaxing around the table. I guess we have to move the coop. I pictured the chickens waiting in welded wire enclosure in the garage/barn waiting for their coop and replied, Yep.

I wish I had a movie of us moving the coop. It’s heavy and requires four people to lift and move and all stay coordinated with each other. It also requires that no one laugh. That is the hardest part. Every year we forget that it requires taking the clothes line down. We remember when we tangle it up on the line. This year it was dark by the time we moved it. I forgot that the bottom of it had buried welded wire that glued it to the ground until we had lifted it a little but couldn’t lift it up further. The strongest person must get into position by walking trrough the chicken run. This was the son-in-law to be. It was muddy in the run. I was praying he didn’t slip. He didn’t but I’m sure when he went home he took off his shoes before going in. All in all, it was a great day.

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