Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection, as well as some Olive Eggers just for fun.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My hens are mad at me.

We bought 12 white hens early this spring--six that will lay white eggs, and six that will lay a creamy colored egg. Those hens are old enough to lay eggs any day now, and I've been putting them into the hen house every night to sleep. Unfortunately, they didn't get the hint.  Every morning when I let the chickens out, those stinker white hens would squirm through the pasture fence and I'd find them perched on the tractor, or sleeping under the bush, or in with the younger pullets every single night. Since I'm not up to hide and seek with chickens every night, we needed to lock them in the hen house for a couple of weeks to teach them where they sleep and where they lay their eggs. This means the all the other hens have to stay locked in, too, otherwise they won't be able to get in to lay their eggs. It's probably my imagination, but I feel like there are disapproving eyes on me every time I go into the hen house.

Since the hens are stuck inside for the next week or so, I thought I'd show you some pictures of the hen house.
Our hen house is BIG. To give you a sense of perspective, that's a full-sized house door and full-sized house windows. The peak is 14 feet high. We built it a lot like a house, with a subfloor and linoleum inside, and double thick insulated walls.  Right now, there's an exhaust fan in the window. Although it's a lot cooler than it has been (and we didn't even try to lock the hens in while it was so hot) the hens still need a breeze.
Hens like to perch. This perch will accommodate 90 birds, and we built it in a tiered shape so that the top birds don't poop on the bottom birds. Most important! You'll also notice that there are a LOT of windows, so the birds get a lot of light and air movement.

This is where the ladies lay their eggs. We don't need one box per chicken, because they can share. We just need enough so that there's always a free box when a hen needs one. You'll notice that half of the nest boxes are closed off right now--we don't have enough hens to need that many boxes. We'll open them up when all of the younger pullets are ready to lay eggs.

Even though the accommodations are pretty nice, the hens will still be very happy when I let them out, and I'll be very happy if I don't have to chase down white hens every evening!