Let There Be CHICKENS!

May 18, 2018

This post is not about horses, it’s about chickens!

When we moved to our current house four or five years ago we gave our chickens away and I have missed them ever since. We knew we would eventually get chickens again but we needed to get ourselves and our primary animals set up and established first, work out the kink.

By the end of last summer I felt the ponies were well established with all the field rotations and such worked out. And I felt ready for chickens again.

We live in a more rural area, with a lot more predators. Predators that come up to our porch and walk around our house. So we needed to make sure we had our chicken set up figured out before we had any birds so we could protect them.

So I spent the fall and winter researching and comparing coop options; build our own, buy a prefab, Craigslist used, options, options?

I wanted a secure coop. One I could lock the chickens in securely. I wanted it to have a small secure run also attached. I wanted it to be easy to clean. I needed an easy coop, convenient, manageable. I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money and I wanted to see how well the chickens would do with all these predators anyway.

In the end I decided on a Tractor Supply prefab coop. It was on sale for $200 from $250. It is a secure coop with an attached secure run. There are three nesting boxes with a nice little door that opens easily in the back for simple egg removable. The floor is a tray that slides out for super easy cleaning. Two nesting rails inside and one outside, it has ventilation, and several doors to the outside.

To finalize the security we just needed to add some more wire across the bottom which was inexpensive and simple to do.

We could not build a similar coop for that cost.

I ordered the coop and when it arrived Rich and I put it together. It was pretty easy and took about an hour. The instructions were easy to follow and al the parts were included. We did add some extra screws but otherwise followed the directions exactly.

We placed the coop right next to the house in our back porch area. We figured this would help with the predators. We also want the chickens to help with pest control around the house. Chickens love to eat ticks and slugs and little bothersome bugs. They also kill mice and other unwanted household pests.

Then we picked up one laying hen and six pullets in a variety of colors. My goal was for every chicken to look different. Accomplished! The laying hen has yet to lay an egg and the pullets are still too young. But we are hoping to be rolling in the eggs by the end of the summer and even more so next spring.

Rich and I have both been spending time “chicken watching”. It’s a good piece of mind. I love to watch them do their chicken yoga, stretching their wings and legs, taking dust bathes, pecking around, chasing bugs, and just being chickens. If you have not spent any time chicken watching and letting your mind unwind, you should give it a try.

Every morning I open their door and they spend the day going in and out eating bugs and bits of grass. They are rather timid still but are getting more ambitious. Lupin, our cat, loves to hang out with them. So does our cattle dog Ash. And Rich and I both enjoy chicken watching.

It’s so good to have chickens again!

The “Dry-Lot” is No Longer Dry

May 17, 2018

I moved the ponies off the dry-lot and onto pasture last night. I got home this afternoon and went to move them back. I didn’t want them to have too much grass.

It’s been raining pretty non stop all week, and the dry-lot is an old dried out pond. It’s had some flooding but nothing too bad and always short lived.

Today it was rough. What I assume is an underground spring popped up and is actively flowing into it. The hay is all ruined. There is about two feet of standing water under the barrels, which are full of hay. I am guessing it is about three feet deep in the center of the pond.

I took a short video I’ll post at the bottom.

My ghetto hay shelter is completely flooded. Trashed hay.

Check out the video. You can hear the water flowing.

Makeshift Hay Feeding Shelter

May 6, 2018

I have a couple fields for my ponies, including a dry lot. My husband and I built a makeshift hay shelter in it using crap we found around the farm.

Long ago the paddock was a pond, which has been dried out for years, but it still has an old pier that sticks out into the field. We have since extended a roof off of the pier that the ponies can stand under while eating.

Directly under the pier is perfect for a round bale. But it was a bit snug. So we dug out under the pier, creating an additional several feet of space for the hay and then we dug down some more to accommodate a pallet which we put down to create air flow under the hay. We then put some 2×4 bars up on one side and across the front to help keep the ponies from getting too into the hay. The neighbor delivers a round bale with his tractor and slides it into the space and then we put two 2x4s back up on that side, completely closing the bale in.

We also have three of my hay feeder barrels hung up. When the ponies drag out some hay from the round bale I fork it up and stuff it into the barrels to prevent waste. I usually do hay clean up about every three or four days and fill half a barrel to a full barrel depending on how far into the round bale they are.

I also have a bucket hung (low so Poe can’t crib on it) for loose minerals.

I don’t find that feeding round bales saves me that much money over feeding square bales. I do get good quality rounds, delivered one at a time when I need one. The ponies do get free choice this way, meaning they can eat all they want 24/7. When I feed squares I usually put out a half bale in the morning and a half bale in the evening, in the barrels to slow them down. They usually gorge (Simon in particular) until it’s gone then wait until the next feeding to gorge again. With the round bale they seem to eat more leisurely throughout the day. They probably do eat more with the round but I like that they eat more slowly.

The big difference is the time it saves me. Instead of dragging hay from the hay shed to the field and then loading the barrels twice a day, I meet they hay guy once every two to three weeks for a delivery, and spend a few minutes every three or four days forking some loose hay from the ground into the barrels. It’s much easier.

My ponies also tend to be mischievous and destructive when they get bored. With a round bale I don’t have to worry about running late with dinner. They always have hay.

This leaves my remaining feeding routine to clean and fill water about once a week and putting a cup of feed in each of their pans in the evenings. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. I am all about keeping things as simple as possible.

So while my hay feeding shelter isn’t much to look at, meaning it’s a total eye sore, it didn’t cost a penny to put together, and we plan to add to the roof a bit more still, which might be obvious. It’s in a dried out pond that is completely out of view from all directions. Its an eye sore to itself. But it is functional, and did I mention it was free?

So here is a glimpse inside of my dry-lot hay-shelter eye-sore.

I did not initially take these photos with the plan to use them on my blog or share them widely. So this was before I did my regular clean up.

I took these photos to show a friend how much digging I had been doing. And also how the pallet and round bale set up was working out. We did have round bales going in there without the pallet which was fine in the colder winter weather but with the warmer weather coming in the moisture was soaking up into the bales.

The above photos are without a round bale in the space so you can see how the round bale fits. This was also right after some wet weather so it was wet and a bit muddy.

This is the side the bale gets put in from.

We screw those two boards back in after the bale is in.

I had already loaded some hay into the white barrel there.

And you can see the mineral bucket hung on the post.

The photos with the bale were taken the day after the no bale photos. You can see how quickly it dried out. It does get wet in this field, but I am extremely lucky in the mud department.

Snow – finally

March 22, 2018

Yesterday we finally got some snow. The first real snow in the past two winters. So I attempted to play with the ponies. It’s been so long I forgot how bad the snow balls up in shoes. So riding Simon sucked. I imagine it was like a horse doing the “big lick” with the wooden block shoes.

I felt like Simon was a good hand taller. The wind picked up and the snow really started to come down hard too and Simon started to get cold so we called it a super quick ride. It was really coming down so I decided I needed to call it quits too and finished my chores and went in.

Today I went out and played with Poe.

We lunged and then did some flat work. Boring but necessary. He is barefoot so no snowball feet. I did not remember to snap any photos of him.

The snow was melting like any spring snow does and will probably be gone by the end of tomorrow. Which is cool. I wish the trails would clear as fast. I would have liked to spend Sunday and Monday riding the mountains. But I don’t think that will happen.

And just a few snaps of the snowy day yesterday.

Pony Pasture Romp 

April 11, 2017 

I took these little videos on Friday morning when Leigh Anne and I were getting ready to load ponies for a trip to KY.  Simon had other things in mind. So I videoed him for some little girls who love him.  


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