Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Henmobile launched

When we first moved out here in 2002, I truly thought that I only needed to look to memories of my grandparent's farm to know what to do. And my grandparents had a chicken house. When I discovered that chicken houses in Illinois had dual-pitched roofs and were faced towards the south to keep naturally warmer in winter, I decided to design just such a chicken house for our homestead.

In no time, the beautiful grass carpet in front of the chicken house was gone. It was replaced by a mud slick most of the year and an ice slick the rest of the time. What would you expect with 50 or 60 chickens running in and out all day long? Of course, grass can't grow there.

The other thing I didn't like was that the chicken house was so close to the barn that many of the chickens decided that they would just as soon find a cozy spot in the barn to lay their eggs. So, we were going on egg hunts daily.

But every summer there would be at least a couple of hens that would do such a good job of hiding their eggs that we didn't find them ... until they got rotten and exploded at some point during the summer heat.

What's a homesteader to do? Build a portable hen house, of course!

After a bit of searching on Craigslist, we found an old construction site trailer that we purchased. It was basically a wooden box built on a flatbed trailer. We had to replace one and a half walls that were rotten, which was fine because we added roll-out nest boxes to the new wall.

The back wall, where the door was located, also needed to be replaced, and that's where we put a new drop down door, which doubles as a ramp.

On the evening of July 6, we moved all of the chickens into the henmobile after the sun went down and they were all roosting. (It's easier to catch chickens in the dark because they're mostly blind in the darkness.) The next morning, we moved the henmobile out to the former hayfield.

We set up poultry netting around the mobile henhouse and opened the door.

The idea is to move the henmobile regularly so that we don't wind up with areas where all of the grass is killed. The chickens follow the sheep in a rotational grazing pattern. The sheep eat down the grass, then the chickens come in and eat fly larvae and other insects while continuing to fertilize the pasture.


Uglemor said...

Dear Deborah. A blog ending with no ending at all - like yours - is like the stray book found in an airport or train station, which you pick up to pass the journey. It grows on you, and you turn the pages faster - only to discover that the last pages have gone missing. How many you don't know, but this book is sure to haunt you for a long time. Here the analogy ends. You can borrow or buy the book, but your blog is unique. Short of travelling to your place - hardly feasible for a Danish mother of six ;) I see no other way out than commenting here and hope to persuade you into blogging again. I hope no real life disasters have struck, and only busines or writer's block has kept you from the keyboard for so long.
Kind regards

Uglemor said...

Dearest Deborah. What happened next? Now I have read through ten years of your life in as many days. Yu're a natuar writer. even reading about kidding for the eleventy-first time had me sitting on the edge of my chair. Please continue this story.

Deborah Niemann said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Charlotte! i've been so busy blogging at ThriftyHomesteader.com that I don't usually have time for blogging here. However, I've been thinking that I should post an update. Thanks for the nudge!


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