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Chicken Run

Chicken Run | www.myfoododyssey.com

Spring has come early here in Lithuania. The snow has cleared completely and snowdrops have pushed their lazy, drooping heads through the freshly thawed earth. Birds are chirping in blue skies and the damp, dreary depression that was February is a fast-fading memory.

Spring is a time for new beginnings, but particularly so for us this year. We are primed and ready to plant our vegetables and buy some livestock. Except that we’re really not ready. Having spent many hours over the winter months nose-deep in books on growing vegetables and keeping chickens I still feel I know absolutely nothing.

The sheer size of the task ahead overwhelms me – keeping the renovations on track, using what garden space we can for vegetables (that won’t get trampled by builders or dug up later for plumbing), preparing outhouses for animals. It’s all completely new to me. But time is ticking so I just need to knuckle down and get on with it. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes, but if I keep studying until I’m as well-informed as I’d like I’ll simply get nothing done.

Chicken Run | www.myfoododyssey.com

Yesterday I made a start on the chicken run. I’ve picked a spot at the back of our barn that I think is ideal. The barn wall will form one wall and a small lean-to designed for storing firewood will form the roosting area. The run will be spacious enough to house the chickens comfortably with plenty of ground for them to range and forage. When I’m sure there are no dogs on the loose we can allow the chickens out to roam and forage around the extensive garden.

Unfortunately the site had become something of a dumping ground in recent years. I started clearing small pieces of rubbish into a bucket but soon discovered much larger items – the frame of a sofa, a few old coats, a pair of boots and bags of rubbish buried under the earth. I ended up with two large black sacks full to tipping point, and I’m not finished yet. While the top layer of soil is defrosted, the earth is still frozen solid underneath. I will need to borrow a small rotary tiller to turn it over and then pick through the remainder of the rubbish.

If the weather holds fine I hope to have the chicken run finished in about two weeks. I’m excited by the prospect of keeping my first chickens and I want them to be safe and happy in their run. Chilled-out chickens lay the best eggs.

Chicken Run | www.myfoododyssey.com

In the meantime renovations on the house are going well. Arūnas is busy with a jackhammer cutting holes for doors. The solid concrete walls are nearly 40 cm (16 in) thick so it’s taking some time. One jackhammer (and one jackhammer operator!) have already packed it in. We’ve now sourced a stronger jackhammer and work seems to be back on track.

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Renovations | www.myfoododyssey.com

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’d totally agree with Declan…. jump right in with the hens (and ducks). We allow ours to roam freely about the place, give them a feed of barley (same as we give to the pigs) and they lay away all year round. Ducks are easy too… and the eggs are brilliant for baking!

    Like

    March 23, 2014
    • Thanks Margaret. We actually went to the market this morning to buy our hens. We are now the proud owners of 12 beautiful hens, a mixture of Lohmann Browns and Marans. Four have just started laying and the rest are point of lay. I’m so excited!

      Like

      March 23, 2014
  2. Hi June
    Don’t worry too much about reading lots of books on hens.Once they have food ,water and shelter they will be fine (remember they never read a single book but they know how to lay eggs!!!) I have had ducks, hens, chickens for 6 years and I do not feed them layers pellets. Just kitchen scraps and bread and they scratch around and eat lots of insects and grass and their wattles are fire engine red a sure sign of a healthy hen. They will not produce eggs as often as ones on pellets but they will produce exactly the same amount. So enjoy
    Declan

    Liked by 1 person

    March 11, 2014
    • Brilliant – thanks a million for the advice, Declan. We already save our kitchen scraps for the cats and dogs and for the compost heap so it will be good to have another worthy use for them. If I survive the chickens I would love to get some ducks. I really love duck eggs but they’re so hard to find. Can’t wait to have some of my own!

      Like

      March 11, 2014
    • I know exactly what you mean. Garden from scratch, still working on the house, and what was going to be the chicken house is filled with boards and bags of concrete. And we’re only there on weekends! Sigh

      It’s still winter here though. Haven’t even been able to burn the giant rubbish pile we’ve collected over the winter. It will all happen in its right time though.
      Just enjoy the present and don’t forget to breathe in Spring!

      Like

      March 12, 2014
      • Yikes! Sounds like you’re even busier than I am! Breathing in Spring sounds good – it will be over all too soon.

        Like

        March 12, 2014
  3. Chilled out chickens ;) I’m picturing them lounging about with margaritas ;) I don’t know what the eggs would taste like though…
    Best of luck with it all! You’re some woman for one woman!

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • Oh, what I would do for a Margarita right now. With extra salt. I’m so, so tired! Tequila and lime could actually make for an interesting egg! (Wonder if I’d get in trouble with animal welfare if I tried it…)

      Like

      March 11, 2014
      • In LT? I doubt it ;) The EU might have other ideas though!

        Like

        March 12, 2014
  4. When I was little my grandparents used to keep chicken, a cow or two, some piglets, and a horse. But chicken were the best, especially little yellow ones :) that brings a series of good memories for me, though I think chicken weren’t all that much into children at all as every single rooster from a litter petted by us children would end up one hellava ready to peck back on us.
    Good luck with your chicken run. Fresh eggs laid by happy chicken are indeed da best :)

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks Asta! I’m looking forward to those eggs (but not to the angry rooster!)

      Like

      March 11, 2014
  5. Uuuh, a man with a jackhammer… just what I needed to make my morning :)

    Looking forward to your first pix of chooks :)

    This woman knows about fowl:

    http://pixilatedtoo.wordpress.com/

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • A yummy man with a jackhammer is even better! ;)
      Thanks for the blog link – I’ll check that out.

      Like

      March 11, 2014
  6. Absolutely love your idea and admire your commitment! It’s fab!

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks! I’ve SO much to learn, but we’ll get there!

      Like

      March 11, 2014
  7. Great photos! Hope Arunas’s eye is okay…..

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks! The eye is doing ok – just another scar to add to his manliness!

      Like

      March 11, 2014

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