Home Projects Abound: Tapping Trees and Cleaning Poop – Part II

Chickens!!! (or home project #2)

It amazes me at the outdoor animals people keep in Fairbanks; horses, goats, cows, ducks, geese and chickens.  Guess animals as well as humans can get used to anything, even -40F.  Supposedly..or so we will find out!  We decided to join the ranks of those crazy people and get some chickens.

Not surprisingly, same as with the birch tapping experience, we didn’t think this one through before diving head first into it – and that is how we ended up on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a box full of chickens and no where for them to go and at least on my part no knowledge about chickens at all other than; I think that’s where eggs come from! (don’t you love our gung-ho style of attacking home projects?)

The chicken co-op with our first egg from our layers; Betsy and Athena (not sure which one gave us our first egg)

And this is the story of how 6 chickens ended up living in an Alaskan outhouse for a week… you’d think this would be a brilliant idea, because outhouses are as big or bigger than traditional chicken coops and there is already human poop inside so why not add some chicken poop to the mix.  Well what we didn’t realize is that chickens somehow manage to spray their poop high up on the walls, peck at everything in sight, spill water a hundred times over leaving giant lakes behind and peck at human legs when humans try to use the outhouse.  Note to self: don’t put chickens in an outhouse.

Patience one of our "medium" chickens, i.e. she's a few months old.

Meanwhile, Nathan was busily building our ladies a coop, sourcing 99.9% of the material for it from the transfer station (aka the dump).  Fairbanks has an interesting “transfer station” culture – where your garbage becomes another man’s treasure.  The other members of the chicken co-op (we are 3 co-owners, with a 4th backup owner) – meaning Michaela and I – also wanted to contribute to building stuff for chickens and decided to tackle the chicken run.  Now Alaska is very well known for it’s chicken predators; hawks, ravens, foxes, bears not to mention our 3 cats and random hunting dogs that roam the neighborhood. Taking this into consideration we decided to build the safest chicken run ever – with fencing surrounding the whole thing, even on top, and screws and nails holding the it tightly together with no cracks for anything to get in.  After we built it, we proudly surveyed our work and thought of how much the chickens will like it when we realized – we built it to be so secure nothing can get in, not even the chickens!!!!  (Needless to say it’ll need some reworking this weekend…a door might be nice. Ha!)

Chicken coop in progress.

An example of my little to no knowledge about chickens was when one night I was hanging out in the coop and noticed that our smallest chicken had a giant lump on her throat. Alarmed I surveyed the other chickens to see if they had it too and sure enough 4 out of 6 had a lump varying in size under their necks! All a flutter I ran into the house thinking all our chickens got cancer over night and are growing crazy tumors and started looking up ‘chicken cancer’ online when I found out…. that that is completely normal for chickens! They have a crop under their neck area where they store their food and then digest it later.  So the more they eat in a day the bigger their crop will be.  Whew…so glad to have avoided chicken cancer. Wonder what other chicken mysteries we will discover in the next few months.

The peepers; Chanticlear and Potentially Olive (we haven't decided yet if her name is Olive, so for now we call her Potentially Olive)

By the way, if any of you reading this have any chicken advice for us (i.e. how to make them lay an egg, general chicken health, tips and tricks) please let us know in the comment section below, we would really appreciate it!!

She-Ra our other medium chicken...not drunk as you might assume but taking a sandbath (another thing I learned about chickens..)


~ by yhossain on May 26, 2011.

One Response to “Home Projects Abound: Tapping Trees and Cleaning Poop – Part II”

  1. I have no chichen advice… but I am so impressed with your homesteading projects!!!! Michael’s parents tapped their maples earlier this spring and boiling is quite a science. It makes me a little jealous living in an apartment in DC where I have no maples to tap and no outhouses to put chickens 😉 I love living vicariously through your blog. Miss you guys xoxo

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