In order to get the blog caught up with the farm work, I'm going to write a few posts in the coming weeks under the heading "Taking Stock." Each week's post will focus on one aspect of the farm, in particular, and this week we are going to feature the animals. Future posts will focus on the history of the property, on the fields and soil, on the various pieces of equipment we have acquired this season, and on some of the farm's buildings.
We knew early on that we wanted to raise laying hens on the Big Red Farm, and we were inspired by Harvey Ussery's excellent book on small-scale poultry operations. So, we ordered 100 chicks from the hatchery, built a nice brooder box for them, and waited patiently for Friday June 8. And then they arrived by USPS via Newark Airport, according to the sticker on the box. Thanks to our friend Vanessa for the pics below.
We started with a basic a frame.
Then added a little more structure.
Bill (Emma's Dad) came to help.
We stapled hardware cloth to the ends
Finally, we built doors and attached the metal roofing (red, of course).
Here's one of our two coops behind the electric net fence and the fence charger.
They seem to enjoy the window view from this toolbox.
And most recently, we added five sheep to the farm operation, mostly because the soil here (which has been conventionally farmed in corn and soybeans for many years) does not offer much in the way of fertility to would-be organic vegetable growers. So, we are rotating the sheep through parts of the field where we particularly want to build up the soil quality.