When you homestead, you need to research before you start pretty much any project. Then you decide a course of action and implement. But then, you also have to be open to change - preferably before something bad happens!
Everything likes to eat chicken, after all.
Following my previous post about Building our Chicken Tractor, several comments were made. One about the size of the tractor and secondly, safety issues regarding predators.
First concern - size.
At only 32 square feet, it is definitely a tad on the small side (there is a lot of debate on how much space a chicken requires), but there were several factors making this decision.
- The ability to get it built quickly and relatively inexpensively.
- One of its purposes is to allow the chickens to help till the garden. (Each garden bed will be built so that the chicken tractor can fit onto it at the end of the season.)
- This tractor isn't meant to be instead of a bigger (eventual) coop.
- It will be moved frequently to give them fresh forage every couple of days - or whatever seems right when we visit.
So, that's something that will be dealt with eventually, but for now, they will (hopefully) be happy enough where they are. It's something we will watch as they grow.
Second concern - predators.
This part was definitely more worrying. I've dealt with: dogs, foxes, owls, mink (another day's story), bears... but I've never had to deal with raccoons before, so I wasn't very aware of the requirements to keep them out. Everyone that I asked seemed to agree that the thing called "chicken wire" in all the stores is not a very good choice to do more than keep the chickens in. It won't stand up to predators of any caliber.
I double checked with some of the locals around here and learned that raccoons are definitely an issue - as are mink by the river, where the chickens are being kept. (I have bad experiences with mink!)
Yesterday, I looked for the better wire mesh, but the stores I started at were out. Overnight, I was nervous, just hoping the coons wouldn't find a tasty treat too quickly.
Today, I found what I was looking for at Menard's. 24" high by 8' long was okay. (I would have preferred 24 or 25-foot lengths, to avoid buying multiples.) Three of those was enough to surround the chicken tractor. (Another reason to use 8-foot measurements!)
The Houdan and the Maran laze in the sun as we reinforce the tractor. The new layer of mesh was simply stapled around the chicken wire.
@emberskydragon works to tie the corners together with the extra piece of wire included in the rolls of mesh.
@wolfspirit uses the staple gun to tack the tarp back onto the tractor.
A local resident was relatively unconcerned with all our activity.
I should have taken a picture of my hands... no less than three nails broken or torn today. That's the price of farm life though, and the price of working with your hands. It's a tiny price to pay in my book...
Hopefully, the chickens are well-contained for the moment. The girls know that there's always risk in farming and everything we do could still prove to not be enough. A desperately hungry coyote might not be stopped by anything we can do. All we can do is the best we can and hope/pray. It's probably why many farmers are superstitious. Just like sailors. There's only so much you can do, but it is our duty to do the best we can.
Photos taken in May 2020 with my Nikon D7200.
Gardening in Wyoming
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