Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The New Chicks at Second Act Farm

We've learned a crucial lesson this summer:  There are not enough hours in the day to learn how to farm and blog, too.  Since it's been a couple months since we started the blog, you can probably tell where our time has been spent.  But we're catching up now, and have a few stories to tell.  Here's the first one.

We had talked about getting chickens this summer, but had not acted.  Then in late May we saw the ad on craigslist - a turnkey chicken setup:  6 hens, a coop and all the equipment and feed.  The owners were a neat couple, Mike and Erin, who were moving from Nashville, Indiana to Elkins, WV.  They had determined that they couldn't move the chickens, so were selling the whole deal...lock, stock, and coop, as it were.

We drove over on a Sunday afternoon and talked with Erin.  She showed us the coop and the ladies.  We gave her a down payment on the spot.  The coop was great.  Nashville Mike had spent a lot of time building it, and it looked like it would last for years.  The only hitch was the size - it was almost 6 feet wide, 9 feet long, and almost 9 feet tall.  At least one other potential buyer had backed out when confronted with the large coop.  He simply couldn't move it.


Our Mike arranged to rent a big dual axle trailer from a local rental company, then got our friends Ian and Rob organized to go to Nashville with us on the afternoon of May 24th.  This was, coincidentally, our 36th wedding anniversary.  Mike joked with Mary several times that she was the luckiest woman he knew - nobody else was getting chickens for their anniversary gift.  (Mary laughed, but Mike sensed she was not really amused...)

It looked like an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies coming back into Columbus from Nashville, with the coop lashed down to the trailer, and the the roof panels flapping in the wind.  Every other car that passed us honked and pointed - "Hey, dude, you're about to lose the roof!".  We smiled and waved - "Thanks.  We know, that's why we're driving so slow!"

 Back at the farm, Rob, Mike and Mary gave the coop a few good heaves and rolled it off the trailer onto its new roost next to our old hen house.

Mike spent Friday morning putting up a fence around the new coop and the old hen house.  By 10am, our ladies had a spacious new home.  They even helped arrange the dirt around the foundation. (Spoiler:  It didn't take any encouragement to get them to help.  Put a pile of dirt in front of a chicken and she will immediately start to level it out.  Helpful some of the time...except when I wanted the dirt in a pile!)

In the weeks since, we have had lots of fun watching the birds, learning their habits, and adapting the environment to suit them.  We've also had one tragic night...which we will recount in a future post.  For now, it's enough to say that we transplanted six healthy chickens from Brown County to Bartholomew County, and have enjoyed the output - a dozen fresh eggs every 3 - 5 days.

~ Mike