Monday, June 7, 2010

Hot Chicks!

Not what you think. I call them "Natural Pesticide" or what to do about abundant tick populations. Otherwise known as Guinea Hens. Different from chickens as they are actually part of the turkey family. Not great to eat or good egg layers, we chose them for their toughness and ability to eat bugs.

My wife calls them "Francis"...all of them, since we can't tell them apart. She said Francis could be a male or female name and something about her needing St. Francis' help in dealing with my constant animal population additions.

This breed is supposed to function fine out on their own once they have their adult feathers, can fly and know their way back to the coop. Some will choose not to come back to the coop until cold weather sets in, roosting in trees until then.

As they are now 6 weeks, we will soon find out whether they are smarter than the local predators. Not a pleasant thought but one I am determined to get used in order to embrace our homesteading life. We're working to getting them used to coming in every night at dusk for protection.

We'll see how it goes.

Here's a couple photos of the Coop-de-Ville I constructed along with their temporary enclosed exercise yard. Fully insulated with great views. Both are movable to make it easier to give them fresh "eats" daily now while captive and easier to relocate down the road.

I had fun building the coop because I challenged myself to construct it out of only materials I had on hand. Some left by the previous owners of our property: insulation, regular & pressure treated two-by stock, siding that was cut out from window openings and steel roofing-not installed yet. Some from previous projects: roofing felt our previous home roofing project, conduit handle-not installed left over from wiring in Las Vegas. Some from my childhood: wagon wheels from my Radio-Flyer. And some scavenged: two-bys from a neighborhood "curb pick-up" which I had previously used in my basement shelving, paint left over from my Dad's house and a Plexiglas window thrown out by a previous employer.

Average stored lifespan of materials not including 38 year old wagon wheels: 10 years. Some were moved 3 times. Crazy. Ah, the life of a pack-rat.

The only new purchase was door hardware and a great recycled plastic sheeting I found at Menard's. It doesn't have any out gassing smell like Filon or Fiberglass sheeting and was a reasonable $15 per 4x8 sheet. Total of 2 sheets were used to build the luxurious 16 square foot accommodation shown :) Supposedly four birds need 4 square feet each.

Cost savings over $500-$1500 coops seen on-line? Not much when you consider labor. Even with my fancy sliding screen door and cable TV.

But hey, we also won't be moving all that crap next time. And, since I'm hoping my next move won't be until they take me out of here feet first, I've just saved my poor relatives some additional cleaning & aggravation. That makes it priceless ;)

And no, I didn't actually install cable TV. We don't have that out here. And we have too many trees for satellite, so that's out of the question.