Facing a new challenge head-on

What do you do when faced with a new task you know nothing about? I chose to face it head-on.
With the recent rain we have been having, our pond has been filling up quickly — much faster than we thought it would in fact. That led us to start thinking about getting a canoe or flat-bottom boat to use, not just for pleasure, but also for treating the pond for moss, which we were told we would have to do occasionally.
After several days of looking online for boats for sale, my husband finally found the perfect boat. It was the right size, 12 feet; in good condition; in our price range; and close enough to go and pick it up.
Here’s where the challenge comes in.
We have a small sailboat on a trailer, but the lights on the trailer did not work. They hadn’t for some time, but we kept putting it off.
Now the time had come, there was no more putting it off, so I decided to jump in with both feet, so to speak.
We lifted the sailboat off of the trailer and moved the trailer out into the yard where there was plenty of space to work on it. There’s nothing worse than not knowing what you’re doing, than not knowing what you’re doing and being cramped while doing it.
I looked over the wiring and the lights, then compared that to the new kit we had purchased. I could do this. At least, I thought I could.
My husband removed the old signal lights from the trailer, then I laid out the new ones and started to string the wire around the trailer.
It took some creativity, like tying the new wires to the old ones I had cut before pulling them out of the neck of the trailer so that it pulled the new ones through with it.
Then I fastened on the new lights and starting hooking up the wires.
I was pleasantly surprised, it took less than an hour to complete, and it went fairly smoothly.
The moment of truth came when we plugged the lights in to the car and they worked. Woo-hoo! Time to celebrate.
All we had to do was wait until the person from whom we were buying the boat got off work and we were off to get it.

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Success at last

I felt like celebrating tonight when I went out to put the chickens in their coop for the evening. I had been trying the different tricks. Feeding them at night inside the coop kind of worked, but it didn’t get all of them inside. The flashlight didn’t seem to have any affect.
But when I combined to two tips I found the magic combination. The last two nights I have been feeding the chickens inside the coop, so they get interested when they see me put the feeder in the door. Then I shine a light inside so they can see to eat. They don’t do anything but gather in the corner once it is dark inside, which is sooner than it gets dark outside since the two windows face south.
The last two nights a few have been venturing up on their own, but tonight I went out and took the food inside and before I had even placed it in the coop the first was already walking up the ramp. Wow! I set the food inside and when I turned back around two more were making the trek. One was being hesitant so I reached down to pick her up and when I turned back around again there were two more. I couldn’t believe it! In all, I had to encourage one to go through the door and put two up on the ramp. That meant six of the girls were being brave tonight. Let’s hope it wasn’t just a fluke and they keep up this trend.

Making progress

Slowly but surely we’re making some progress on getting the girls into the coop. I tried the flashlight method to give them a nightlight. While they didn’t resist as much when I put them in the coop, they didn’t go in themselves at all so I decided to take a different approach.
Last night and tonight, they were out of food in their outside feeder when I got home. I had been refilling it for them in the evening so they could get something to eat before bed. They have learned quickly when I pick up the feeder it means dinner time and follow me all the way to the bucket of food and back. i thought maybe since they followed me so well around the run, just maybe they would go inside.
Yesterday evening when my husband put the chickens away he filled the feeder, showed it to them and put it inside the coop. They weren’t interested.
Tonight, I followed the same routine. I filled the feeder with them keeping a close eye on me, then I shook it a bit so they knew there was food in it and they watched as I set it just inside the coop door. I also did this a little earlier in the evening so there was still some light left. Success at last! Alice, my bravest, walked all of the way from the ground, up the ramp and into the coop to eat. I was ready to celebrate, but that might have been a bit premature. The others watched her up there eating, but none were quite ready to make that scary walk themselves. It’s like they think they’re walking the plank. The next few I placed a few inches from the door and they walked the rest of the way in. Not as big of success, but still improvement. Of course, there had to be the last two that I chased around and around until I finally caught them and still had to put them all the way in.
With the extra light, they did take time to eat before settling into their favorite corner.
I’m confident I’m on to something here. Hopefully in a few more days, they will learn their coop is “home.”

Learning where home is

With the recent rain we had here, I have had to put my garden on hold for a day or two so things can dry out a little. With this, I have been able to turn my attention back to the chickens, which have been happily enjoying their new freedom in their run.
The only thing they don’t like to do is go into their coop at night. Everything I have read said after two to three days they would learn to go in at dusk. The suggestion was to bribe them with food, specifically grit, to get them inside. Apparently my chickens are too well fed because they only want their food if they can stay on the ground and eat it. My bravest girl, Alice, took a couple of steps up the ramp, but then quickly gave up and returned to the ground.
I’ve tried to walk them up the ramp, but still no luck.
After a little research I’ve come up with some new tricks to try.
1. Put treats inside — I doubt this will work since food wasn’t a good enough bribe for them.
2. Lock them inside for a couple of days — With the heat we have now I’m not sure this is really an option for me.
3. Put a flashlight inside — A nightlight. I would never have thought chickens would need that, but who knows.
From what I’ve learned from others’ comments is that the chickens have to learn the coop is home, something that takes a couple of weeks. Since mine have only been out there about a week now, maybe they’re still learning. I think I’ll try the flashlight plan, strange as it may sound, in hopes of speeding up the learning process.
Anyone who has any advice, please let me know. I want the girls to learn the safety of their new home, and save on my back from chasing them around the run.

A nice surprise

I had a nice surprise when I came home from work Thursday evening.
I had been spending every spare moment working on our chicken coop to get it livable for the girls, so I hadn’t even started my garden, which I usually would have in the ground by this time. In fact, it was looking very neglected, with weeds starting to grown up in it again.
Well, one evening when I returned from a long day at work it was still light enough outside for me to notice something had changed out in the field.
My husband had pulled the tiller out of the shed and tilled up my garden again so it would be ready for planting while I was working late.
I had tilled and mulched the new ground last fall, but it needed it again this year to mix it all in. He got it all prepared, and now I can’t wait to get in and start digging in the dirt.
I have spent the winter reading a book on tips to a successful garden and I’m ready to start implementing them. I’ll keep you updated on what works and what doesn’t. Time to get back to work…

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It was quite a sight at the coop today

The girls made it through their first night after a little squawking when I closed them in for their first night, but they soon settled down. By morning, they were ready to get out again and start pecking around. Since we still had a few finishing touches on the coop, the most important one to this story was the walkway from the coop to the ground, I had to lift them in and out.
To make life easier – mainly on me – we set to work building the walkway. Once it was in place the girls didn’t really know what to think about it. One brave chicken, Alice, an Americana, was the first to try it. As she braved a few steps up the ramp, the other chickens gathered around at the base watching. I guess they wanted to see if she survived or not. She did, although she only made it a few steps before jumping off.
They spent the rest of the day mainly on the ground, then that second night I tried to teach them to walk up into the coop. How do you teach a chicken you may ask. It wasn’t easy. I placed them one by one on the ramp and helped them up into the coop. All was going well until I was down to the last two, who weren’t cooperating. After assuring the others were away from the door and happy to stay inside, I began chasing the other two around. It’s amazing how big an eight-foot by 12-foot area is.
Success at last! I caught one of the two and turned around just in time to see three of the others flying out of the coop door. Great. I began gathering chickens again and soon they all were inside. It’s amazing that they don’t want to stay outside when it starts to get dark, but they also don’t want to go inside.
The next morning they were happy to walk down the ramp by themselves and some even began to venture back up it. We’ll see how they do tonight.

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Moving Day

It was finally the big day today. Moving day! The girls (our chickens) moved out of our house and into their own. It’s been quite a process building the coop.
As I mentioned before everything took much longer than expected, and the instructions I purchased, while helpful, didn’t outline everything for the non-builder type like me. Still, we managed to make it through the steps, making up a few as we went to adjust it to our liking. It was a rewarding process, and turned out better than I had hoped.
The girls moved into their new digs this morning, flying around and enjoying their new-found freedom. It was good to see them in a larger space, and great that we finally got our house back. It’s amazing how much room that box took up in our kitchen.
Of course, just because they’re in their new house, that doesn’t mean it’s completed. We still have the nest boxes to go. Luckily, we still have a little time before they need them, and I have read that you should block off nest boxes until they are ready for them anyway. No problem there. I think we’ll take a little breather before we start on the nest boxes, at least a day or two.
Time to sit and enjoy the ducks on the pond for a few moments before it’s time to go on to the next project.