The chicken coop is complete! All the doors are in place; I trimmed and screened all the windows with hardware cloth; the locks are installed; the door has tested just fine; and I built the roosts.
Now all we have to do is wait for our chickens to get at least another 10 days older.
I am continuing to improve the fencing as well. I have used 6-inch landscaping staples to anchor the welded wire fencing to the ground. Then I started to install the half-inch hardware cloth on the fence that goes around the coop. This is four feet high and I am installing 18 to 24-inches on the ground to keep predators from digging in and the balance above to keep small rodents out. We also installed the garden gate.
While there is the danger that some animals may try to climb the fence, I hope that the electric fence will prevent that. Of course… I still have to install the electric fence. I’m not looking forward to drive two eight-foot long grounding rods into the rocky ground. I have selected a location for the solar powered fence energizer that gives it plenty of sun and cannot be reached by a bear or other animal.
The chickens (main photo) are continuing to grow rapidly and are on their third set of bedding. At just about three weeks old, they look far more like birds and less like puffballs. This is partly due to their plumage growing in, especially their tail feathers. Their feet are huge, like puppy dog feet, waiting to be grown into.
The Speckled Sussex are quite good looking, with the speckles already showing on their bodies. The Red Stars are darkening from the yellow or cream color as they move towards their adult color.
Our chicks have gotten much better at eating their greens and other treats. We’ve fed them clover, lettuce, pansies, and scrambled eggs. (I know, the latter sounds like cannibalism, doesn’t it? But the protein is good for them. Just make sure the eggs are cooked so they don’t get a taste for raw egg.).
I think they are getting bored. When they are not eating, many of them perch on the heater and settle in for a rest. However, I’ve been told that calm chickens are happy chickens, so I guess they must be happy.
The Bee Yard
The bees continue to do well, with the bees spreading over more and more frames in their hives. Two of my three hives now have two hive bodies. I had hoped the third would be ready, but in my inspection on Saturday, there were enough empty frames that I judged it was not ready.
Although we are still in our nectar flow, the bees continue to empty the hive-top feeder every three days. I have decided to feed them on Day 3, again on Day 6, and then do a full inspection and feeding on Day 9 and then repeat the cycle. Since capped brood hatches in 12 days, every inspection should show me all new larvae and almost all the capped brood should be new as well. I expect this schedule will give me a good idea of how the hives are doing.
Hive Top Feeders
I have been using two hive top feeders and a frame feeder. I was using the latter only because I was missing a part from the third hive-top feeder, which I prefer. Found it yesterday and will replace the frame feeder soon.
I have found that the perfect recipe for making just under a gallon of 1-to-1 bee syrup is to mix 9 cups of sugar into 9 cups of how water. It works best if you start with warm water and add two cups of sugar at a time, stirring aggressively. I don’t add more sugar until the prior sugar has fully dissolved. Then I let it cool before feeding the bees. I have tried 10 cups of each, but it made more than my gallon container could hold.
I’ve been keeping busy doing other chores, from stacking firewood to straightening out the garage and helping my wife. We’ve picked up more chick feed, and I got two more bales of hay for bedding in the chicken coop. It’s getting to that point where I hope it rains so I can have an excuse to stay inside!