Son #1 and Grandson #1 arrived in a horrendous rainstorm in the wee hours of Saturday morning after a harrowing bus ride from Northern Virginia. Once everyone was up and fed Saturday morning, we set out to finish the Chicken Palace, the cull/meaties coop. The plan involved using more of the leftover metal roofing to secure in the increasingly larger hole down each side of the coop to the ground.
If you look at this photo from the day we built the main structure, you can see the triangular hole down each side as the back of the coop is a couple of feet higher than the front due to the slope of the land. We cut the trapezium shaped pieces and fastened them to the nailers from inside the coop using roofing screws with the chicken wire that I had previously stapled up outside the metal.
The front was half covered as well. The coop still needs rocks or logs along the edges inside and out to discourage digging, but it is reasonably secure now. If anything other than a bear can get it, it will be fairly small and probably won’t take on more than one adult chicken. I also need to put up some fencing for a run to protect them from the dogs. After we finished, we captured Midnight, the randy 20 week old Americauna cockerel; Romeo, the two year old Buff Orpington rooster whose spurs had become lethal weapons; Buffy and Buttercup, my two oldest Buff Orpington hens who proved not to be good Moms, they are the ones that abandoned they nests as soon as the younger hen’s eggs hatched.
Sunday morning, bright and early, before the family was up, Son and I dispatched the four of them to freezer camp, leaving us with no adult males for now. The plan is to keep one of the cockerels from this summer’s hatchings to be the new king of the coop for next year. We are on chick watch, with the last broody due to hatch the end of the week. We have had a strange situation in the coop for the past few days. The Momma hen who lost 4 of her babies two weeks ago and was placed in the coop with her remaining three, spent the first week taking them into a nesting box at night, then after a week she went up to a perch each night and the chicks wouldn’t follow, but instead, tucked under the broody who would accept them at night. Mom would then take them outside during the daytime and teach and protect them. I think last night, the chicks pushed 5 of her 11 eggs out of the nest. I candled them and two appear to have chicks. Since I’m not sure how long they were out, I put them back under Mom. The other three do not seem to have chicks, so they will be discarded.
Late yesterday afternoon, Son, Grandson and I set out to take them back home by way of a 5 mile hike to Dragon’s Tooth and back to the car. I managed all but the top smidgen of the up hike handling the steeps and even the rock scrambles until we got to this. . .
I decided that with my bifocals and in a skirt, that though I might get up that, I wouldn’t safely get back down it. The white dot just above center right is my 6’4″ tall son. Grandson and son left me sitting at the base of this with my water bottle and finished the last 2/10 mile to the top of the tooth and then back to me. We started out at about 5:30 p.m., made it back to the car just before 8 p.m. and took off for Northern Virginia. With a dinner stop, rain and the semi trucks, and finally stopped by a huge accident on I-66 just one exit from his exit, we were about 1 a.m. getting there.
This morning we awoke to light rain and I took Son to work and headed for I-66 to return home. Between morning traffic and harder rain, I missed my turn that I usually take and continued out Braddock Road as I knew I could get on the interstate farther out, but when I got to that turn, traffic was backed up as far as I could see in the direction I needed to go. I turned south and headed for Manassas to get on there. As soon as I climbed the ramp to the interstate, it began to rain barrels full and there must have been nose to tail semis in almost all lanes spraying more barrels full onto my little car. I promptly got off at the next exit and headed south down the middle of the state on a route that I knew would get me home, but would take much longer. I wasn’t too far down that route until it started raining so hard that I couldn’t see the car in front of me, my cell phone alarming “Flash Flood” warnings, and several inches of water standing at every intersection. Needless to say, my 60 mph posted speed limit was more like 25 or 30 for about 2 hours. Once I cleared the Charlottesville area, the rain stopped and the drive improved until I got back to the point of getting on the interstate again. Being tired and stressed, the semi traffic was too much to handle. As soon as I could get off and take a back route home, I did. The normally 4.5 hour trip took 8 hours, but I am home, the sun is shining and it isn’t miserably hot, so life is good.
To end on a laugh, Granddaughter just yelled up to me, “Mommom, what are we having for dinner?” My response was that we are going to The Cellar (a local restaurant). She fled back to her mom, fretting aloud, “Oh no, we aren’t having anything for dinner (she knows that part of our basement is the root cellar).” I can only imagine what was going on in her little 3 1/2 year old head.