Prepper Diary May 8: Chicken Coops, Bee Hives, and Cold Weather

Plastic nesting boxes
Plastic nesting boxes installed in our chicken coop.

After a couple days of rain, yesterday dawned dreary and cold, but I had hopes I would get to work outside. The “late afternoon showers” arrived early, cutting my plans short. I hand to stop measuring the chicken coop to cut and fit exterior panels. I had time to install the three chicken nesting boxes pictured in the main image, above, but not to cut any wall panels.

These nesting boxes came from Tractor Supply and cost about $20 each. They are plastic, so they should be easy to clean and won’t mold or rot. The slanted roofs prevent birds from roosting (and pooping) on them. 

The boxes were easy to install and should be easy to remove or move to another location. I don’t expect to do that as I am cutting a slot in the siding and installing a flip-open panel to allow easy access to get the eggs from the nest. If I move the nesting boxes, then I’ll have a hinged access for no reason.

I also visited our local feed store and picked up 100 pounds of Southern States Traditions Chick Start & Grow feed. This is a crumble food for chicks with 18 percent protein. I am focused on layers, not meat birds, so that should be sufficient. I am a fan of the Southern States brand, and I expect we will use their egg layer feed when the birds get older.

Building More Bee Equipment

The rain limited me to working indoors, so I glued and nailed together two medium supers for the bee hive. These will cover the hive top feeders.  I plan to uss them as quilt boxes in the winter to help insulate the hives.

While I bought the commercial grade deep hive boxes, I had bought the less expensive budget supers. My reasoning is that they would be on the hives less often, so why not save a few bucks and go with the cheaper budget models? After working with both commercial grade and budget grade, I’m wishing I had stuck to the commercial line. The difference in quality was noticeable. Inaccurate cuts caused finger joinery to fit less well; there were cracks in some of the sides, and more knotholes (I expected the latter). I ended up using far more glue, trying to fill in the space around some of the interlocking fingers. (The interlocking fingers on beehive joinery are important because water can penetrate and cause the wood to start deteriorate.)

I now have five beehive components that need to be painted. I’ll tackle these when I paint the chicken coop panels.

Heating with Wood—in May

As nighttime temperatures dropped into the 30s again, it gave me an excuse to light a fire in the wood stove in the basement. The warmth was welcome because the room had been getting down to 64 degrees, and that’s a bit chilly when I’m sitting at my desk. In about six hours, it was up to 73 degrees, a welcome change! It was enough to raise the temperature upstairs to 71.

Do I feel guilty about heating with firewood in May? Yes, but only a little.

I have already scheduled the chimney sweep to come in June and inspect and clean our chimney. If you heat with wood or simply use your stove or fireplace frequently, I highly recommend cleaning it out yourself or hiring a professional. Chimney fires can be deadly and can quickly destroy your home. Like many other things in life, it is easier and cheaper to repair loose mortar or other problems in a chimney when you catch them early.

Prepper News Update

  • I’ve been warning about inflation for months now. MoneyWise reports that “Warren Buffett just sounded the alarm on inflation” and provides a list of eight things you can do to prepare to weather the coming storm. Yahoo Finance reported on several companies that are raising prices, including Reynolds (expect to pay more for tin foil), Procter & Gamble (maker of a bajillion household products from Tide to Gillette razors), Kimberly Clark (even though there is now a surplus in toilet paper), appliance maker Whirlpool , and mattress company Tempur Sealy.
  • Just last week, I posted about reaching “peak chicken” and the impending chicken shortage. An article on the subject appeared in the May 6 Wall Street Journal saying “Independent eateries and bars have gone weeks without wings, owners say. Chicken breast prices have more than doubled since the beginning of the year, and wing prices have hit records.” Just as an aside, after last week’s post, I tried a McDonald’s chicken sandwich, and it was underwhelming. I don’t think Chick-fil-A has anything to worry about. 
  • Coronavirus cases in the U.S. hist a 7-month low. Globally, cases and deaths hit a record high. India continues to see days with more than 400,000 cases reported. It looks like the rich nations are going to reopen while the second and third-world nations that lacked the resources to develop or buy vaccines will continue to suffer from COVID-19, possibly for years.