Thursday, May 26, 2011

House Demolition and a Chicken Tractor

Last weekend Craig and I spent our time demolishing our old rental house. We are incredibly happy to see it gone.

When we bought our home in 2001, it came with an ancient old rental house on the property. The original main part of the house was built in 1894, and additional rooms were built onto it in the 1950's. The welling was in decent shape up until around the late 1960's or so. After that, it was rented by the previous owners to tenants who didn't give a damn about it. It had gone through several families who completely trashed it.

Needless to say, my husband and I were not excited to become landlords. We had heard horror stories from other former landlords about deadbeat tenants who refused pay their rent and became squatters on their property. To make matters worse, the eviction process to rid renters off of your property can take years and endless amounts of time and money in the court process. Not fun.

Luckily, our renter for the past ten years did pay his rent every month on time - so that wasn't a problem. What was the problem, was that he was a hoarder. And I do mean a SERIOUS hoarder. Ever watch the discovery channel's program "Hoarders"? That is what we were dealing with. There was trash everywhere inside the home, and little walkways around garbage piles in every room. To make matters worse, our renter had over 30 cats inside and out of the home that were ridden with conjunctivitis and wounds from fighting with one another. Since the house was located on the back half of our property, it was hard to see from the road. Nobody really visited over there much, so the problem really wasn't widely known.

Craig and I had been planning the demise of this god for-saken house ever since we bought the property. The hoarding and terrible smell had to go. As property owners, it was embarassing.

There is 4 acres of pastureland with our home, and then 1 acre where the rental house was sitting on the back side. Now there will be more nice green pasture after the clean-up.

A welcomed sight after the excavator did it's job.

A pile of stinky house junk.

The remnants of a woodshed left standing. We are planning on tearing it down too. It's not built very well, just kind-of cobbled together.

Two more sheds. These aren't too terribly badly built. They're in need of some roof maintenance, but are overall fairly sound structures. Craig and I will take the lean-to's off of either side of the buildings and finish cleaning up the junk around them. I'll probably put a nice new coat of paint on them as well. They will make nice garden sheds for tools and stuff.

The future home of my greenhouse. There are two nice concrete slabs where the house sat on, and we'll make good use of them. One slab will have the greenhouse on it, and the other one will have a canopy on it to park the horse trailer under. We saved the windows out of the rental house to build the greenhouse with.

The little pump house, for water.

On another note, Craig and I have decided to build another new chicken tractor as well. I've raised several hundred cornish broilers over the past couple of years, and I hate keeping them in a dirt pen. Not only do they muddy up the stationary pens, but I have to keep feeding them a lot of food too. If I can get them out onto pasture in a safe mobile pen so that the predators won't get them, then they can graze and not dirty things up too much.

Our new broiler pen will be built similar to this farms "hoop" tractors. Not too complicated, just a bent up hog panel with some chicken wire and a tarp for shelter. Simple and effective for raising meat chickens.

Building chicken tractors is not something new to Craig and I. We've built a few smaller utilitarian style ones for our breeders and layers. We've also built all of our stationary coops as well.

We built this blue "grower" tractor a few years ago for juvenile chickens. It has three roosting bars underneath the shelter section.

A white tractor that we built for layers or a big group of breeders. It handles eight big standard sized chickens well. There are four nest boxes in the back and two long poles for roosting.

Another shot of the white tractor. It has a big lift-up door on one end and a smaller door on the other end to get eggs out of the layer boxes.

A view of the inside of the turkey pen that we built.

A view of the backside of the turkey pen. We used reclaimed barnwood to cover up the outside of the plywood, and I decorated it with antique traps and farm stuff. The flower bed is made from an old scrap tank that I found alongside the road in a ditch. (One persons old junk is another persons treasure...) This picture was taken a few years ago in the summer when the grass had burned off from the heat, but the flowers were still in bloom.

Our banty coop. I wanted it to look and feel like an old miners shack. The turkey coop is a matching building. Made from reclaimed barnwood and decorated with old farm antiques. I find a lot of great scrap iron laying around in the local farmers fields that they throw away.

Outside of the banty coop.

Another view.

A little broody tractor that we made out of a rabbit cage. My mother in law had two rabbits, and when they passed on she gave us the cage. I didn't really know what to do with it. The bottom was almost completely rusted out of it, so Craig and I cut some of it out to make a bottomless floor on part of it. On the inside we left the cage part as a frame and then enclosed it with wood and tin for the roof. There is a little side door with two nest boxes and one small roosting pole. Broody hens have hatched out several (probably a hundred) batches of chicks in this box, and it works exceptionally well. I cut out a section of old yellow garden hose to cover the edge of the tin roof so I wouldn't cut myself trying to reach for eggs or chicks through the door.

A green breeder tractor that we made a few years ago. It has three nest boxes and two small poles for a roost on the inside. There is also a little lift-up door on the other side to reach in and grab eggs with. It is the same concept as our blue tractor that we built earlier, but we added more stuff on the inside of this one. It holds a trio of standard sized breeding chickens, or six banty sized chickens.

Our chicken tractors are fairly utilitarian in appearance compared to some others. For more elaborate and inventive looking ones this site has some really great examples:
Love the "green" living roof on the small coop, and the rustic log house coop with the red flowers is great!

This one has a very cute little flower box built right onto it:

A great article about backyard tractors built within the city limits:
The "Egg McMansion" is fantastic!

An incredibly cute (yet rather steeply priced), red barn tractor with a corral:


Friday, May 13, 2011

New Ram

We have a new ram at our farm! And he's such a handsome fellow..... =:)

The new stud-muffin's name is "Isle of View Titan", and he's totally magnificent. He is everything that I've ever dreamed of a top of the line Soay ram being. Unfortunately, I didn't produce him - Ken Weston was the one who bred this stunning mahogany guy. But, I'm proud as heck to own him, and am hoping I can pair him with a few of our horned ewes in the future for lambs that will have his magnitude and regality. This guy's horn width is the most impressive that I've ever seen on a Soay. I'm thrilled that he's here and look forward to utilizing his genetics.

Our old flocksire Arne had sired two big lamb crops, so it was time to swap out bloodlines. (He has been retired to the freezer.) I kept one of his daughters from last year that produced a white faced ewe lamb, and I'll probably be keeping 3 or 4 more of his little lamb daughters this year.
Another thing of interest has happened in our flock, is that we have these two twin ram lambs out of Phoebe that have some weird dark back stripes. I've never produced anything like these two little guys before, and have never seen it in anybody else's flock. So they might be something special..... maybe. I dunno.

The darker twin ram lamb with the weird stripe.
The lighter twin ram lamb with the same type of stripe.
It reminds me of a dorsal stripe in horses. I'd love to know if anybody else has experienced this effect in their Soays.