Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making Flock Block Substitute

As I said in my post over the weekend, I am doing everything I can think of to get ready for Winter.  One of my Winter concerns is having nutritious treats for the girls.  It seems like we have lots of tomatoes and cucumbers and grapes during the Summer to give the girls but Winter will be a different story.

A few weeks ago I made the Peeps Pumpkin Pie recipe from The Chicken Chick.  Those are tucked safely away in the freezer for using this Winter.  Today I decided to make some Flock Block Substitute also from a recipe from The Chicken Chick.

One recipe made 4 pie tins of flock block.  They are still baking in the oven and smell FANTASTIC!

You can find the recipe that I used from The Chicken Chick at her blog here.
I made just a few changes...
1. I decided to bake mine in pie tins rather than 8 x 8 pans just because I had plenty of pie tins to bake 4 at once. 
2. I used 1 cup of Calf Manna rather than Omega Egg since that is what I have on hand.
3. I used 2 cups of water rather than 3 cups.  The humidity will affect this greatly so my advice is to add water slowly until you get the consistency that Kathy describes in her recipe.

Hopefully these flock blocks will not only be a wonderful healthy treat but will also be a bit of a boredom buster this Winter.  It will be nice to have treat options on hand for the days when the weather isn't so nice.

Do you make treats for your chickens?  I would love to hear about them.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More improvements and getting ready for Old Man Winter

Do you think we will ever be done making improvements to the chicken coop?  Will we ever really stand there looking at the coop and breathe a sigh of relief that we are truly, finally, totally done?

Somehow I think the answer is no.  We will never be totally done.  There will always be something more to do.  Please don't tell my husband.  :) 

Mostly I want to be ready for Winter.  We have already had quite a few frosty mornings and I know that colder mornings and nights are yet to come.  So the task for the weekend was to do some caulking and weather proofing so that the chicken coop is draft free.

We picked up a heated water bowl so I think the watering situation is worked out.  I am planning to water the flock outside this winter and the heated bowl will make that process easier.

For the nest box doors we decided that the best way to accomplish a draft free door was to add board inside the top latch of the nest boxes.  Works like a charm.
The tan boards toward the top of the picture are the draft boards.  They just cover the "seam" between the wall and the nest box door.  

In order to make sure our chickens get plenty of "light" I wanted to put our light on a timer.  This timer ensures that the girls get a full 8 hours of complete dark at night to rest, but enough light to hopefully continue laying through the winter.  And of course the timer means I don't have to personally go out to turn off the light.  :) 

Next task....finish the soffits on the north and south sides of the coop.  Darn, that will have to wait until next weekend.  We decided that these sides should have solid soffits rather than the vented soffits and that will require another trip to the hardware store.

Next on the list is to put up some boards to provide wind protection for the chickens when they are under the chicken coop this Winter.  Nope, that will have to wait until next weekend too. (Yes, another weekend of working on the chicken coop)

So, after a small amount of begging and pleading for my husbands forgiveness I talked him into making a ramp for the chickens to get down from the roost.  I was getting worried that one of them might get injured jumping down from the poop board.  They are truly clumsy creatures and I would feel awful if one of them was hurt.  Our poop board ends up being a bit high in order to have room for the metal  trash cans that hold their feed.  They don't have any trouble at all flying up to the roost.  It is the getting down that is a bugger.  
My husband built this ramp much like the ramp that goes down into the run.  A board was screwed to the front of the poop board with two wood shims so there is a small space to insert the metal piece that is attached to the ramp.  This allows for the ramp to be removed easily for cleaning. 
 I have no idea what these little metal plates are called.  But they are used sometimes when building roof trusses I think.  Anyway they work great because they can be screwed to the bottom of the ramp and the metal is bent so it slides into the "holder" above.
Success again!  I feel much better that the girls have a better way of getting down from their roost.  After the picture was taken we did add another cross board to the top of the ramp.  The space at the top was too big and the girls had to slide too far before reaching a foot hold.

You may notice in the picture above that the sand I use on the coop floor is swept away from the feeder area.  I do this because the girls make a bit of a mess when they eat.  With the sand swept away I can sweep up feed they spill and put it back in the feeder.  Much less waste this way and I don't end up with feed in the sand.

One last little improvement for the weekend.  I have been wanting to add some type of "pull" to make it easier for me to use the gate from the run.  I know, it is definitely NOT fancy.  But hey...it works!  And I no longer have to reach through the wire to lift the gate latch.
My husband drilled a hole through the gate post.  Then I tied a piece of rope onto the latch and put the rope through the hole and to the inside of the run.  Drat!  It didn't work.  The rope created too much friction in the rough wood and wouldn't slide freely to allow the latch to fall and hook into place.  Solution....a long piece of twist tie wire.  The plastic coated wire slides through easily.  I want to get some type of wooden beat to attach to the end of the wire so that it looks a little less "rustic".  But now it is so much easier to get out of the run. 

Of course the girls are always curious about what I am doing.  I couldn't resist taking this picture of Hazel and Oprah Orpington.  They seemed to be striking a pose for all of you but actually they were trying to get a good look at the camera just in case it was a treat.  :) 
All in all the coop is working wonderfully!  I love, love, love it!  And the girls love it too.  The new Cuckoo Marans girls are settling in well and will be needing some names soon.  They look enough alike that I probably need to get their leg bands on before I get too busy naming them. 

We got lots of things marked off of the "to do" list.  How is your "to do" list looking?  Are you ready for Winter?