Chicken hacking

The chickens don’t seem to like the whole ramp setup. While they can sometimes figure out how to get out of the coop, they still can’t get into it from underneath. If we don’t force them in the door at night they’re inclined to hole up right back in the corner behind the shelf where we can’t get to them.

So we’ll hack their brains a bit and see if we can’t get them to want to use their nice coop properly. We’ve made the doorway from the platform a bit bigger, and put some logs in a pile next to the platform. A little bit of food sprinkled onto the logs, and they’d jumped up onto the platform within about 5 minutes, and one of them had voluntarily gone inside the coop to check it out. Curious.

a-log-stack-and-bigger-door

Interlude: Holden Road

Holden Road is across the valley from ours, on the other side of Monbulk Road. Though it’s close by, you can’t see our house because of all the vegetation. Our place would be off to the right in this picture. Those houses there in the distance are on Greenslopes Road.

view-of-greenslopes-road

house-on-greenslopes

And people say Perth is a nice place to raise a family.

Chicken waterer semi success

Last time we looked at the automatic chicken waterer it was leaking all over the place and the trap was preventing the water from flowing down from the tank properly.

Discovered that the little tube of silicone that we had had dried out. It was only 5 years old! Got more, and replaced the caulking gun that had also broken a few years back.

With some new bits we could finally put some silicone around the main leaky joint between the waste plug and the tank. It’s sealed up that leak perfectly. Plumber’s tape on the rest of the threaded connections also sealed up the other leaks.

We drilled a small hole in the top of the trap for the air to escape, and inserted a long 4mm reticulation riser to get the outlet level higher than the tank’s full water level.

chicken-waterer-vent

This was semi-successful. The water certainly ran down properly with the vent in place, but the riser is too rigid. It has to stick up through the hole in the coop floor and it had to go into the hole at an an angle. Trying to gently bend it a bit led to it breaking off.

Never mind; there’s plenty of water in the tube itself, so we shut off the plug in the tank and took the chickens’ other waterer away around lunch time.

They didn’t have a clue what to do, despite being shown, so we just left them for a while to get thirsty. Then, as evening descended we went back down and R showed them how it worked. Being very thirsty (they were sucking the water off the bricks), they were very interested this time, and it took about 10 minutes for them to get it.

chickens-figuring-their-waterer

Good on ya chicks!

All the drips are nicely plugged, and we’ll get a bit of flexy tube to fix the air vent.

Chickens at 9 weeks old

Not chicks anymore. Less cute, but still cute. They still haven’t figured out how to use the trapdoor in the coop – might have to come up with something different there.

We put the watering thingy across the door to keep them inside overnight. In the morning when we remove it they rush out and jump off the platform, flapping down to the grass.

chickens-9-weeks

Sometimes they land inside the cage around the mandarin tree, but it looks like they’re figuring out how it works.

chickens-on-the-tree-cage

Wasn’t really intending for them to sit there!

Getting down to the chickens

When the door was installed in the chicken run, a few bricks were put down to make a solid base to sit it on. It’s kind of in a hollow, though, and when it rains the dirt gets kicked up and builds up in the doorway.

Also, getting down to the door can be a bit of a challenge, especially when it’s wet. The ground is pretty steep and some exposed roots from the giant mountain ash make it a bit treacherous. We’re going to have a path running by the run’s door at some point, and we might as well get cracking on that since we’re down there on a daily basis now.

The area needed a bit of a clean up, and then we finish the brickwork outside the door. It’s just wide enough for the door to swing open a full 90 degrees.

chicken-run-stoop

Rocks were needed to build up the wall on the uphill side, to stop the dirt from running down here and collecting in a pile.

After the doorway is clear, we can start making steps up the hill. Here’s step number 1 all done:

step-to-chicken-run

+1 civilisation.

Lounge floorboards – test run

With the hearth tiles grouted and double-sealed, and the fire back in place, things are ready in the lounge room to lay the secondhand floorboards we got way back in February.

lounge-floorboards-ready-to-go

The first step is to put down some underlay. It’s got plastic on one side, as a vapour barrier, and a thin layer of foam on the other, to give a bit of cushioning. Our boards are a bit uneven underneath – tear-out from when the nails were originally driven through. The underlay helps also to soak up those inconsistencies.

lounge-floorboards-underlay

The boards are in pretty shocking condition, so each one needs to be cleaned up. Dirt and sand is crusted along the top edge of most of the tongues, quite a bit of the tongue and groove got split during removal, and some parts of the boards are just unsalvageable. While we’ve done a rough lay-up, we don’t really know if we have enough boards to do the whole floor, post clean-up.

It’s slow going, board by board. We’re not nailing them down just yet, just seeing if they’ll fit together.

lounge-floorboards-layout-testing

On the side, we need to test the nail gun to see if it works. It, too, is secondhand, from the US.

Here’s a new one down at the local hardware for $750. No thanks.

new-nail-gun

The air fitting that it came with wasn’t compatible with our hose, so we changed the hose interface on the end. Nail gun, postage from the US and new fittings came to $160 all up.

It also came with some nails. Once the air fitting was fixed up we thought we’d give those nails a try.

nail-gun-testing-fail

Well, it sure does drive a nail. The first attempt put two nails in. It was so quick I was a bit confused as to what had happened at first.

The second attempt (using a much lighter touch on the trigger) went in fine, but split the wood. I’m thinking they’re too wide for this job, and something finer is called for (it’s a framing nailer, after all, not a floor stapler). ¬†While it was a very short piece of wood I was testing on, we’ll be putting these nails in close to the ends of the boards and splitting it like this is unacceptable. Have to find out if the magazine will accept smaller nails, or can be swapped out for a different magazine.

Rogue oaks

Missed a couple of mighty oaks in the garden at the bottom of the chicken run. They were germinated in the fridge, in a bag. I tipped them out here and potted the ones that had sprouted, leaving the remaining acorns where they lay. Obviously there were a couple of slow pokes.

Move them or leave them, that is the question.

rogue-oaks

Chickens @ 7 weeks

More chook-like every day. This bit of log they’re standing on was just something that I dragged up the hill to stand on while doing work on some of the higher bits on the run. It was just left, and I’d meant to take it out and chop it up for the fire, but the chooks really love this spot as the evening draws in, so we’ll leave it be.

chickens-7-weeks