The Farm Report: Chicks Moving Out

      20 Comments on The Farm Report: Chicks Moving Out

The 25 chicks Sara is raising for a 4-H project finally got too big to live in a trough in the basement, so it was time to move them outside this week.  Putting them in the chicken barn with 19 adult chickens seemed like a bad idea, so Chareva told me we’d put them in the portable coop she built last year.

Well, that sounds easy enough …

“Oh, and I want to move that portable coop out back near my new garden.”

Gulp.  The portable chicken coop has been parked next to the chicken yard in the front pasture:

We raised our second flock of chickens in that coop and slowly moved them down the steep hill in the side field so they could eat plenty of bugs on their way to living in the Big House.  Moving the coop to the back of the property near the new garden would mean pulling it up the driveway you see below, then all the way up the same big hill.  I’m no physicist, but I was pretty sure pulling it uphill would be more difficult than pulling it downhill.

But Chareva wanted to toss the used straw and chicken poop into her new garden, so we got to work.  We attached chains to the coop and the back of my car, then I drove it veeerrry slooowwwly up the driveway.  Worked like a charm.  Truck?  Who needs a truck?

I need a truck.  The ground is soft because of recent rains and the grass is long in the side field, so as soon as we reached the steep rise in the hill, my tires started spinning.  The boards didn’t help.  Having Chareva drive while I pushed the coop didn’t help.  Nothing helped.

Okay then, time for some exercise.   My feet aren’t quite as big as tires, but they don’t spin in wet ground.  I pulled and the ladies pushed.  (Chareva didn’t make the girls do all the pushing.  She stepped aside for a moment to snap a picture.)

My legs definitely got a workout.  My thighs were burning by the time I dragged that sucker all the way to the garden.  The coop was Chareva’s first construction project, but I’m impressed.  It held up under rather a lot of stress while being dragged across the rocky, bumpy ground of a Tennessee hill.  Now it’s parked near the garden, ready to provide the all-important chicken poop to the squash and eggplants.  Never in my pre-farm life did I suspect I’d someday be looking for a good source of poop.

Sara’s chicks are now happy inhabitants of the portable coop.

Meanwhile, Chareva moved Alana’s four surviving chicks to the Big House, but they’re in a cage.  Apparently the idea is to let the adult chickens get used to their presence until they’re big enough to defend themselves.

Soon we’ll have 49 adult chickens.  Sara has to auction five of them at 4-H, but that’s still going to mean a lot of eggs.  Good thing I love eggs.  Good thing our friends and neighbors love eggs, too.

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20 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Chicks Moving Out

  1. Erica

    I really wish I lived next door, because I love eggs, too!

    Congrats to all of you. Chareva is a great carpenter, and you have muscular legs. The girls are learning great life lessons.

    I think this is a great lifestyle for the girls, too. They love living on a little farm. As a father, I find that very satisfying.

    Reply
  2. Erica

    I really wish I lived next door, because I love eggs, too!

    Congrats to all of you. Chareva is a great carpenter, and you have muscular legs. The girls are learning great life lessons.

    I think this is a great lifestyle for the girls, too. They love living on a little farm. As a father, I find that very satisfying.

    Reply
  3. Nikki

    Gosh I’m so jealous of your large property. All my husband and I could afford is 3 acres.

    Good luck to your daughter at the auction.

    Do you have enough land for a family cow (dairy) and would you consider getting one?

    A cow is a possibility after we get the land fenced in. That’s an expensive proposition, so it’s on the wish-list. Meanwhile, Sara will be raising two goats for another 4-H project. We’ll see how that goes, then get our own goats if all goes well.

    Reply
  4. Dave L

    You better love eggs, Tom! lol! I think I’ll just stick to buying a couple dozen at my local farmers’ market every Saturday morning. I get my exercise just riding my bike there and back. Kidding aside, this is a great way to bring up a family. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. 🙂

    Fortunately for us, our friends and neighbors have been buying up the excess. Next on the agenda is a roadside egg stand.

    Reply
  5. Boundless

    Should anyone need a portable chicken tractor, and survives the sticker shock, these:
    http://eggcartn.com/
    work quite well.

    We have the larger one, with 7 hens. We actually drove to Partridge KS to pick it up. Note: large heavy crate – needs a full size pickup and ample tie downs.

    It has now served for nearly a full year. We think that the advertised “8-10” hens is a bit too crowded, and results in too much competition for the 2 nesting boxes (eggs laid elsewhere can lead to egg-eating by the hens, which can destroy the productivity of the flock).

    We also fabricated a portable cage from PVC and wire cloth, with a little swing-up tunnel, that is easily moved by 2-wheel dolly, and connected to the sliding gate on the chicken tractor.

    Moving these daily allows the birds to consume a large amount of ground cover, yet not commit desertification, which they gleefully do if confined to a fixed chicken run. The external cage also provides a place for the birds to be during periodic cleaning of the tractor. During deep winter, they were confined to the tractor for multiple days at a time, with no problems.

    If I were going to improve this product, I’d add an option for ceiling conduit with 3 outlets and 3 external weather-proof switches, for powering a water heater and 2 heat lamps over-winter. I’ll probably mod ours this summer for this. Perhaps thermostatic controls as well …

    Reply
  6. Lea

    That is a beautiful property! I have a small acreage, but it’s in the Canadian flatlands. Hardly any trees. Maybe I have tree envy?? LOL
    I’ll be setting up chickens soon, wish me luck!

    I love this land. Chareva had to talk me into buying the place because the house was in godawful shape, but she was right: that was just a few months of renovations. The land has open fields, hills, almost-flat areas, trees and a creek. Quite a nice combination for a six-acre property.

    Reply
  7. Nikki

    Gosh I’m so jealous of your large property. All my husband and I could afford is 3 acres.

    Good luck to your daughter at the auction.

    Do you have enough land for a family cow (dairy) and would you consider getting one?

    A cow is a possibility after we get the land fenced in. That’s an expensive proposition, so it’s on the wish-list. Meanwhile, Sara will be raising two goats for another 4-H project. We’ll see how that goes, then get our own goats if all goes well.

    Reply
  8. matt

    I don’t think you need a truck.

    Maybe 4 wheel drive.

    Maybe just chains.

    Or maybe lifting the coop a little bit while dragging it so there is less coop touching the grass, but for that you would need a truck. 🙂

    Even 2 2x4s to make a sled might have helped.

    A truck is on the wish-list either way. Chareva would rather not haul hay and chicken feed in the back of the van.

    Reply
  9. Dave L

    You better love eggs, Tom! lol! I think I’ll just stick to buying a couple dozen at my local farmers’ market every Saturday morning. I get my exercise just riding my bike there and back. Kidding aside, this is a great way to bring up a family. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. 🙂

    Fortunately for us, our friends and neighbors have been buying up the excess. Next on the agenda is a roadside egg stand.

    Reply
  10. Boundless

    Should anyone need a portable chicken tractor, and survives the sticker shock, these:
    http://eggcartn.com/
    work quite well.

    We have the larger one, with 7 hens. We actually drove to Partridge KS to pick it up. Note: large heavy crate – needs a full size pickup and ample tie downs.

    It has now served for nearly a full year. We think that the advertised “8-10” hens is a bit too crowded, and results in too much competition for the 2 nesting boxes (eggs laid elsewhere can lead to egg-eating by the hens, which can destroy the productivity of the flock).

    We also fabricated a portable cage from PVC and wire cloth, with a little swing-up tunnel, that is easily moved by 2-wheel dolly, and connected to the sliding gate on the chicken tractor.

    Moving these daily allows the birds to consume a large amount of ground cover, yet not commit desertification, which they gleefully do if confined to a fixed chicken run. The external cage also provides a place for the birds to be during periodic cleaning of the tractor. During deep winter, they were confined to the tractor for multiple days at a time, with no problems.

    If I were going to improve this product, I’d add an option for ceiling conduit with 3 outlets and 3 external weather-proof switches, for powering a water heater and 2 heat lamps over-winter. I’ll probably mod ours this summer for this. Perhaps thermostatic controls as well …

    Reply
  11. Lea

    That is a beautiful property! I have a small acreage, but it’s in the Canadian flatlands. Hardly any trees. Maybe I have tree envy?? LOL
    I’ll be setting up chickens soon, wish me luck!

    I love this land. Chareva had to talk me into buying the place because the house was in godawful shape, but she was right: that was just a few months of renovations. The land has open fields, hills, almost-flat areas, trees and a creek. Quite a nice combination for a six-acre property.

    Reply
  12. matt

    I don’t think you need a truck.

    Maybe 4 wheel drive.

    Maybe just chains.

    Or maybe lifting the coop a little bit while dragging it so there is less coop touching the grass, but for that you would need a truck. 🙂

    Even 2 2x4s to make a sled might have helped.

    A truck is on the wish-list either way. Chareva would rather not haul hay and chicken feed in the back of the van.

    Reply
  13. Cathy Abbatiello

    Makes me miss home all the pretty newly green TN trees. I’m from outside of Knoxville. I love that you have a disc golf course too!

    I am new to you, my LC lifestyle and disc golf as well. Enjoying all very much.

    Just in from 12 holes. I find myself back on your site for more information I can’t quit absorbing. Thank you very much I’m sure this is a lot of work.

    Reply
  14. Cathy Abbatiello

    Makes me miss home all the pretty newly green TN trees. I’m from outside of Knoxville. I love that you have a disc golf course too!

    I am new to you, my LC lifestyle and disc golf as well. Enjoying all very much.

    Just in from 12 holes. I find myself back on your site for more information I can’t quit absorbing. Thank you very much I’m sure this is a lot of work.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Only 12 holes? Either it’s not an 18-hole course, or the back nine didn’t go well.

      Reply
  15. DebbieC.

    I love the photos of your property! 49 chickens, wow! I have a friend locally who started keeping chickens last year. She only had *6* but she gets 6 eggs a day and says that that’s still too many for her family to consume, so she gives the rest away. I’ve been lucky enough to get a couple dozen from her, but wish I could get them more often. Her chickens are completely free-range so must be eating all the good stuff. I love the look of the eggshells too – dark brown, creamy light brown, lovely pale aqua. They are so pretty I painted a picture of them! Alas zoning restrictions prohibit chickens where I live, but don’t see how I could manage anyway since I go away a couple months every summer up to Canada. Not too many chicken sitters around that I know of. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      We have a neighbor who feeds and waters our chickens when we leave town, but I sure wouldn’t want to ask him to do that for two months.

      Reply
  16. DebbieC.

    I love the photos of your property! 49 chickens, wow! I have a friend locally who started keeping chickens last year. She only had *6* but she gets 6 eggs a day and says that that’s still too many for her family to consume, so she gives the rest away. I’ve been lucky enough to get a couple dozen from her, but wish I could get them more often. Her chickens are completely free-range so must be eating all the good stuff. I love the look of the eggshells too – dark brown, creamy light brown, lovely pale aqua. They are so pretty I painted a picture of them! Alas zoning restrictions prohibit chickens where I live, but don’t see how I could manage anyway since I go away a couple months every summer up to Canada. Not too many chicken sitters around that I know of. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We have a neighbor who feeds and waters our chickens when we leave town, but I sure wouldn’t want to ask him to do that for two months.

      Reply

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