Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Chicken Cabana’

Chickens and Ice

There have been two constants since the snow started on Thursday…snow has been accumulating, and the chickens have hated every minute of it! I have wondered about the “intelligence” of my birds, because often times in cold rain, hail, and really cold wind they have been outside running around going from tree to tree, and complaining the whole time. They don’t seem to have any sense sometimes, and even in those conditions will wait until almost dark to run inside their house for the night. Even in this storm, on Thursday when it started spittin’ snow, I had to chase them inside and close the door behind them. Friday, however, it seemed something finally “clicked” with the flock and they have kept themselves inside and within their outdoor cabana since.

One great thing about cold weather....cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!

One great thing about cold weather….cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!


Whooooaaa, I'm not going out ther!!!

Whooooaaa, I’m not going out ther!!!


Hey what's that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

Hey what’s that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

The younger flock are still in their larger brooder so they didn’t have the decision making dilemma that the older birds had. Since they were on shavings over concrete, in preparation of the storm we slipped a rubber stall mat on top of the floor and covered that with the shavings. With two heat lamps, they have been staying toasty warm, when they want to warm up…they do huddle together under the lamps during the coldest parts of the day, but they seem to be doing great. I do feel like they are just about ready to join the older flock, but the weather is not ready for them. These active little ladies (hoping for no roosters…) seem to be a little bored lately, so I gave them something to do…just like the big kids.

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!



The aftermath!!

The aftermath!!

Beyond the chickens…I have some outrageously beautiful pictures of the snow, which turned to freezing rain and left a 1/4 inch layer of ice blanketing the snow on the frozen land of which I and my family are so blessed to share with the Oregon wildlife.

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?


Frozen Blackberry bushes.

Frozen Blackberry bushes.


Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen.  :o(

Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen. :o(


Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

OMGosh…It’s Cold out There!

Well…I’ve had to cut my posts from one loooonnnnnnggggg post to two shorter. Keep an eye out for my next post….!

I think that almost the entire country has been in consistently dropping temperatures.

At 7:00 this morning, our outside temp was 3 degrees…3 DEGREES!! The welfare of my chickens has been a huge concern. I’m just short of inviting the flock into the house…..well….maybe not that far, but the garage stays in the back of my mind. Though their house is really wonderful, it is not insulated, and the roofing is metal sheeting. Without help, their inside water would surely freeze…actually it did. This freaked me out!! I felt like such a hugely awful chicken mama, but it threw me into action. I started with rigging up one 250 watt heat lamp, and a heated water bowl…since there is no power to the house, I hooked up power with long, yellow, construction power cords. A week and a half ago, this worked fine…this past week it fell way short. Implementing a cord splitter, heat lamp #2 was employed. The temp dropped again…we moved the heated, outside water dish inside. This seemed to work well for the teen temperatures…but last night we were going to be dropping into the single digits. So, in the dark, in temps of about 13 degrees…Tony and I were out at the chicken house lowering the heat lamps to more directly provide heat to the chicken roosting / nesting areas instead of the general house. With this, and a generous supply of cracked corn, everybody survived the night. Give me a break now….I’m used to animals living INSIDE the house…these girls and guy are my first out-of-the-house experience, and with these kind of temperatures….let’s just say it was a glorious 6:30 a.m. moment when I heard Benedict crowing!!

It's cold out there!

It’s cold out there!


Heat lamps add warmth.

Heat lamps add warmth.


Heated water bowl was a necessary addition.

Heated water bowl was a necessary addition.


Coaxing them in with cracked corn so I can shut the chicken door.

Coaxing them in with cracked corn so I can shut the chicken door.


Claudio the hogging the heat.

Claudio the hogging the heat.


At least they look warm and toasty.

At least they look warm and toasty.

The cabana has been a really great addition, and the flock has spent a lot of time out there. Tony picked up a couple of straw bundles, and spread some of it on the floor of the cabana. That was a hugely great idea as the chickens are not liking foraging around the snow very much. They actively kick around the straw and look for the chicken scratch we’ve thrown out in it, and little bugs that may be hiding.

A big pile of straw to play in.

A big pile of straw to play in.

The more extreme cold is supposed to last a few more days, I think we’ve got it covered….maybe…wait until the next post, big news on the farm!!

Rooster tracks in the snow.

Rooster tracks in the snow.

Freezing Chicken Fix

By Friday the temp fell to 19 degrees...brrrrr

By Friday the temp fell to 19 degrees…brrrrr

I think it is safe to say that the late, fall weather has arrived! I still find it fascinating when I leave for work and puddles are frozen…then when I return, those puddles are still frozen. Two days later, still frozen…obviously these puddles are shaded throughout most of the day, but I’m still amazed. In the Bay Area, it is a rare event when it gets cold enough to freeze a puddle, and even more rare for it to stay frozen the length of a day. I don’t think the beauty that the cold brings will ever get old for me. Since we now live at a higher elevation in the foothills surrounding our town, our temps can be 5 – 10 degrees different than what the phone weather apps, like the one above, display. Sometimes I will call down to my Mom who lives in town when it is snowing…we may be getting a bunch, while in town it is more of a slushy rain.

This puddle stayed frozen for 3 days.

This puddle stayed frozen for 3 days.

Mostly or partially frozen for 3 days.

Mostly or partially frozen for 3 days.

With the onset of the colder weather, my thoughts ran to the chickens. I know they wear their own down filled “jacket”, but I worried that their house wasn’t going to be warm enough through the night. We still had some issues with drafts, which, I have learned through my blogger friends of whom I hang on their experienced wisdom, is bad, bad, bad for chickens. That first cold/rainy/windy night about 3 weeks ago, I kept waking up thinking about my freezing birds. I apologized to them as they stepped out onto the wet ground of the morning, fluffing their feathers and cackling at me (do chickens swear, cause I’m sure they were…) Needless to say, when I got home from work, I hopped into action. I can’t have a bunch of angry hens and a rooster on my hands…not since they’re producing these….yes, that’s one day’s collection.

Seven chickens, seven eggs...life is good!

Seven chickens, seven eggs…life is good!


Everyday, we’re collecting 6 or 7 beautiful eggs…from 7 hens. It has definitely helped with my dog food bill. 🙂

I just really love our chickens, I don’t want to think that they are cold or can’t get out of the rain. #1 – I decided that they needed a cabana that would give them cover as they stepped out of their house. I took the paneled wire fencing from around the garden, and with the help of my son, set up a three sided frame, attaching it to the chicken house for stability.

They already like it!

They already like it!


Looks like a good space.

Looks like a good space.


At this point, then, I was alone with the rest of the design and build of the cabana. We always seem to have a supply of plastic tarps, so I threw some of these over and attached them to the wood framing with a heavy duty staple hammer. This was the first level of protection against the winds that come over the mountains behind us and funnel through on their way into the valley.
First level of protection, insulating against the wind.

First level of protection, insulating against the wind.


I then found a ground tarp that we used underneath our tent for camping. I hesitated on the thought of punching holes with the staples through this tarp, but I figured our flock was more important than a piece of plastic. This tarp was large enough to provide protection from the rain. It was a great fit, then I realized that I had to pitch the roof-line or rain would just accumulate on top and cause all sorts of problems. On my hunt for a solution, I found items like a stand alone wire shelving unit, boards, and boxes that as I lifted, shoved, and somehow moved around, creating a pitch…we had a pitched roof. I stretched the tarp tightly, and tacked it down to the wooden frame. I was stoked! It really came together! As I stood back to take pictures to send to hubby who was away on business, I realized that as I created the roof pitch, the tarp had shifted…leaving the wind/weather side of the cabana shorter than the other side. UUUUGGGGHHHHH!..it was that Charlie Brown moment….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ-t4DhAfrs

It ain't purty, but it works!

It ain’t purty, but it works!

I wasn’t about to go through and remove all the staples, so I used Shoe Goo on the seams of the white tarp, and it seems to work just fine. It’s quite cozy, and the chickens really seem to like it. With the addition of a heated water bowl to keep the water from freezing, I think they’re doing pretty well! I’m glad I liked to build forts as a kid…and with my kids when they were younger…I think that helped!

Cozy and dry

Cozy and dry

Cozy and dry...that's their heated water bowl.

Cozy and dry…that’s their heated water bowl.

#2 – I needed to fix the drafts and provide some sort of “insulation” since their house had none. As you can see in the previous pictures, I tacked on some large, flattened, cardboard boxes to add a line of insulation on the outside areas corresponding to their indoor roosting branches. Then hunting around the shop, I found some cans of foam insulation….PERFECT!! Being afraid that the birds might be attracted to the yellow, hardened foam, I insulated from the outside. It’s not that pretty, but it completely cuts that draft from those areas I applied it. Basically, I just followed the gap lines between the boards, trying to keep a straight line..haha.

Can you see what's roosting behind the windows?

Can you see what’s roosting behind the windows?


Canned Foam Insulation 2

By the time I finished, it was getting quite dark, but I couldn’t let them go one more night in the cold. The result is that the flock is happy, I’m happy, my dogs are happy because of all the eggs they get to eat…all is well, and I’m not waking up thinking about freezing chickens.

I feel good that our chickens have a dry place to go from the rain.

I feel good that our chickens have a dry place to go from the rain.

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