Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Only a Can of Pepper Spray or a Ball Bat Would Be Cheaper...

With regard to the chickens, we've been battling neighbourhood dogs since last summer.  Our biddies were so happy forging around our yard, and we had trained them to stay within certain areas.  In places where we thought they could stray into unfriendly territory, Moose erected chicken wire.

Unfortunately, chicken wire is no match for the neglected neighbour dogs.  And by "neglected" i mean dogs that aren't walked on leashes or generally paid much attention to, especially when they are allowed to escape their yards and roam the neighbourhood.  Is it that hard to figure out a local dog ordinance?  Or that when you build a fence for your yard, you will still need to close the gate or your dog could escape?  :(

Sadly, one of our chickens was killed last summer by a neighbour's escapees, a couple others were slightly chewed, and soon after another neighbour got a new dog (a relative actually of the neighbour with the murdering dog.)  So now that the dogs know where to come for a quick chicken nugget, we see them in the yard a lot.  Along with people we don't know shouting like fish wives at the dog for it to come to them.  If someone was shouting at me all the time, i'd behave just like those dogs...

We finally had enough this winter, and decided to look into fencing the yard.  Now, one of the nice things about our neighbourhood (up until this point) has been that there aren't a lot of fences.  People here tend to use border gardens and greenery to mark their boundaries.  We were going for a nice looking fence--something that could be decorative as well as functional.  However, we soon learned that we couldn't afford something like that for a 1/3 of an acre, even if we were a dual income family.    Chain-link wasn't really something we desired either...nothing makes a statement like chain-link, eh?  Industrial complexes use chain-link.  It's the poor man's wrought iron, eh?  However, we were desperate...

Have you seen the cost of chain-link fencing lately?  Sheesh!  A 50 foot roll of link is $80!!  And that's not including posts and fittings.  One roll would barely cover 2/3rds of our front yard, and we'd need at least 4 rolls to run the length of one of the sides of our lot.  And a gate for our driveway was staggering--close to $1200!!  All to keep someone else's responsibly from coming onto your property.  Bah!

After a few small scale fencing plans and cost estimate trips to the hardware store (poor Moose!), we gave up.  Then we had a few run-in's with the dogs charging us.  At our lowest, i was considering giving the chickens away...eggs from chickens kept in a swanky coop are no different than eggs from the nat'l conglomerates--a caged chicken living on organic grain is still a caged chicken, eh? 

Thankfully, we were struck by a moment of insight!  A friend of mine has a chicken tractor, or ark as the Brits call them.  It's a handy little thing for their family.  I used the Google to pull up chicken ark images, and Lo! and behold, who's picture should pop up?  Moose was inspired by the idea, especially because the cost of building a chicken ark was about half the price of the cheapest fencing plan we came up with (which was a small 6 foot area of fence around the existing coop.)  He quickly got to work, exercising his design capabilities and making a plan.

He designed it saltbox style (kinda matches our coop).  It has three doors, one for nest access under the tarp, a chicken door below that, and a door on the upper left to access the watering can that will eventually hang from the rafters.

It has a roost the girls seem to enjoy.

Hi Souffle!
                        They are a little slow in taking to the nesting box, but i can't blame 'em...

Do ya mind, Sugar Plum? I'm trying to lay an egg, cause, i'm a chicken.  - Caroline
                                           For the moment, they all seem to be enjoying it. 

The only updates we've done so far is replace the small wheels with tube tires for wheelbarrows (makes for much easier transport over the bumps and pits in the uneven yard), Moose placed a couple handles be make it easier to hold on to while it's dragged around the yard, and he replaced the blue tarp with a brown one to make it more friendly on the neighbours' eyes. :)   So far, we've had two gullywasher storms come through since it's been in operation and the ladies have all stayed dry!  Hooray!  Now to pick a creative name to christen it.  Any ideas?  So far we've come up with The Chicken Chariot, The Valhalla (what the Vikings used to call great feasting halls), ....

The real test was yesterday--it was a busy day with swimming lessons smack in the middle of the day.  We parked the ark toward the back of the side yard and put the ladies in for the day.  I said a little prayer as we left the 'hood, headed for a town 12 miles down the highway.  When we arrived home, everybird was hummin' and just dandy.  Someone even laid egg while we were away!  I broke into it, and the next test was passed too--those yolks are returning to a beautifully indescribable yellow   

Not only are we hoping this ark (and a quick complaint filed with animal control) will keep those naughty canines from our ladies, but maybe this will help us win our battle to become smart than a chicken. 

Didn't Moose do a great job? 

Submitted for Simple Lives Thursday - May 5th.  Follow this if you'd like more ideas on living simply.

1 comment:

  1. Love this. We just got 20 chicks and wanted them to be free range but with a busy street and neighbor dogs we were going to fence a huge area for them. I think though that this would be better as they would get fresh grass everyday and their area won't turn into mud.


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