JustPicked Farms

  (Emporia, Kansas)
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Life and Death

March 22

Life and Death

This week has been dramatically eventful at JustPicked Farms.  Last week while I was at work, my daughter called to tell me that something had killed two of our free-range hens.  She didn’t see what killed them but at first she thought it was a hawk, because she saw one picking at one of the carcasses.  Personally, I believe the hawk was just getting an easy meal, and it was actually a dog that killed them (not mine, she was indoors).  Both chickens had been bitten at the necks and had their necks broken, and only one looked like anything had actually started to eat it.  This type of killing for sport rather than food seems like the work of a domestic dog to me, since coyotes or foxes would have eaten or carried off their meal.

With that sad event, I had to make the difficult decision to no longer let our hens free range while I’m away from home.  We quickly got one of our new hoop houses ready, since their existing henhouse would have been a little small for them to be spending so much time in.  This weekend we built nest boxes to go inside the hoop house.  I still plan to let the hens out whenever we’re home and working outdoors, but I’ll keep a shotgun a little nearer by in case of predators.

IMG_1272This past weekend we were back and forth to Kansas City on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a conference, so we didn’t have much time to work on the high tunnel or poultry hoop houses, other than getting the nest boxes built.  However, while Martin was in his conference sessions, I was free to shop!  I stopped in a Tractor Supply store to buy some feed for the chickens, and found that they had chicks and ducklings for sale.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I bought 6 new ducklings.  The sign on the bin said “assorted”, so I don’t know for sure what type they are, but by their markings they look like Rouans, which when they grow up look like a large mallard.

Ducks should be a good addition to the garden, since in addition to eating slugs, snails, and other pests, they won’t damage the crops as much as chickens would.  And, they’ll give us occasional yummy duck eggs!

Mourning the loss of the hens, celebrating the arrival of the ducklings,  trying to keep all things in perspective -



Building a hoop house for pastured poultry - Part 2

March 15

Building a hoop house for pastured poultry – Part 2

vertical supportThe first part of this series covered building the base for the hoop house.  This part covers making the “hoop” part of the house.  The first step is to add a 1x4 vertically to the center of the back edge of the frame.  We used Gorilla Glue and screws to hold it in place.  We also set the end of the 1x4 flush against the floor, to make it easier to hold straight while we were gluing and screwing it.  Once we got the screws in, we cut the bottom of the 1x4 even with the bottom of the frame.

Fence staplesNext, we took a 4X16 cattle panel, available at the local farm and ranch store, bent it into an arch and aligned the back edge of it with the back edge of the hoop house base.  We fastened it to the outside of the hoop house base with fence staples.

A second cattle panel was bent into an arch and placed overlapping the first one slightly at the center of the house, and aligned with the front edge of the hoop house base.  This was also fastened to the base with fence staples.

Since the cattle panels had a tendency to want to spring back out to their original flat shape, we tied twine from one side to the other to keep them arched while we stapled them to the frame.string and hog rings

Where the two panels overlapped, we used hog rings to connect them together.

Pipe strappingWe adjusted the cattle panels so that the top of the arch visually aligned with the vertical 1x4 at the back, and attached them together with plumber’s strapping and a couple of screws.

In the next segment in this series, we’ll show how to build the end walls and door for the hoop house.  The chicks and turkey poults will be here in April, so we really need to keep moving with this project!

Until next time, have fun, and think Spring – Cheryl

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