If it weren't for my obsessive picture-taking, we would have no record of how things have changed around here in the last seven years. We think our memories retain every little thing, but, in truth, and especially today, there is far too much going on in our lives to remember minutiae.
Here is what the henyards looked like six years ago. We had converted what had been a tiny dwelling, with one closet, a primitive heater (which had been removed) and a small air-conditioner into a henhouse. A yard was built around it the first year (we had only six birds) and the following year, the little henhouse was built.
Here is the big henhouse yard back then.
The black hole from which Keith is throwing water on the ground is a pre-formed pond that we had sunk in the ground for our two small call ducks, who you can see by the fence, dabbling in the water. We started out with a swimming pool (you see it there) and then sunk the pre-form. It was a pain in the tush to clean out, but the little birds LOVED diving in it. I actually found a hen drowned in it one day, and numerous mice. You see they have already picked the yard bare of grass, even though there are so few chickens. The little "building" is a feeder Keith made to keep their feed dry outside. There is nothing in the henyard, because we had not built the duck house yet, the very large dog-house style house for the geese and big ducks.
The calls slept in the henhouse.
Here is the brand-new little henhouse, still not quite finished being painted. The big hens loved laying in it, it is dark. I have only ever seen one snake in it.
The fences are tall and straight.
Troy and Kathy's house in background.
Big henyard today. A sapling grew in the middle. The "duck house" is behind this tree, and around the bottom (if you "biggify" you can see it) is a cage with an opening on top. We used to push this up against the opening of the duck house and put juveniles in it to get excercise during the day. This worked fine til I came home one today to find a big snake in there enjoying a chick snack. I could not move the little cage myself (it was very heavy, so it was pushed aside, left, and a tree grew in Brooklyn.
Since it provides shade for the birds, it stayed. Note the weeds on the formerly bare ground. They are so spiny that I have to keep them cut regularly so the poor chickens, imprisoned now, can get around. The reason they are no longer pasture chickens is because Butch and Rambo do NOT GET ALONG. I am also scared the babies, three of which are evident here, will be swooped out of the pasture on the talons of a hawk.
Speedy Gonzales, the brassy back rooster, nearly swallowed up in Weed World.
Why is it that the only henyards in Mother Earth News, etc. etc. are neat and tidy? I think this is the real world.
At my old place in KCK, I had an enclosed pen. I kept it bedded with straw, about six inches thick, and every four months or so I would shovel it out, throw it in the compost heap, and re-bed the pen. This is what I'm going to do to the new henhouse yard when the building is up.
View into somewhat-less-weedy and larger little henhouse pen. The four on the dog house were waiting for me to bring the treats in. The procelains are spending all day in the rabbit hutch, despite the door being open. We think one of the older roosters began beating up on them, because they are afraid to come out, and when they do come out, they fly onto the top of the henhouse until I go out to do chores. Then they fly down and beg to be put back in their little home. This must end soon, they are getting too big. They may have to go back into everyone's favorite little pen, the chicken huntch in the little juvenile pen. Everyone large and small on the big henhouse side loves to hang out in this pen. I do want to encourage the juveniles to start eating and sleeping in the big henhouse before it gets cold. In the morning when I open the popholes, they rush headlong into the big henhouse. At night, they fly up in the tree.
Three of the little ones having some fresh water.
I am thinking that I am going to have to start letting them out soon. They are pretty cramped. I can let Butch's girls out, but keep Butch in his pen. He and Rambo can face off all day long while the hens have a break.
Dawn this morning.
And a rainbow to light the day.