In the last seven days our weather has turned from minus 20 Celsius to plus 15. Yes, here outside of Calgary we get Chinooks and can get wild temperature swings in a very short time. It was a welcome change because I have lots of work to do outside!

Last week the chicken coop needed more work so I installed the roosts, the tray under them as well as the ramp up to the roosts. I packed myself a lunch and ate outside in the sunshine. I then installed the linoleum on the floor and in the tray under the roosts for an easier cleanup (I hope). I hung a thermometer in the coop as well to see the temperatures in there.

The cows also needed some attention and they were brushed out as they have already started to shed their winter fur. They recognise what the brush is and Lulubelle will walk straight up to me and drop her nose to the ground and not move a muscle so I can brush the top of her head.

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Saturday my son helped me load the farm truck up with 15 hay bales to fill the big feeders so the girls have lots to eat. He was “tired” after cutting the twine off of these first two bales and just wanted to drive the truck around.

We had to pen the cows up in a small temporary area because they will run straight out the gate for an adventure as soon as I open it with a truck full of hay. These 7 foot portable panels are the most versatile investment yet. I love being able to just throw them up anywhere and tie them up to the fence with baling twine and its an instant pen.

 

WARNING GORY PHOTO !

Also on Saturday my son had a friend come out to the farm to play. Leave it up to two 9 year olds to find a dead animal. “Yeah ummm your son found a dead animal  – I hope he doesn't have nightmares tonight”.

Best farm reality playdate yet!  In our 25 years at this farm we have never seen one of these. We think it is a weasel or an ermine, but it is hard to tell. It has a small black tip on its tail and was just laying on our lawn all gross like this. Weasels are quite vicious little animals and will love to eat a chicken if they get the chance, so we will have to keep a watch out for these little guys. I also made sure that I sealed up every little gap in the coop so nothing can sneak in at night, not even a small mouse.

One of our farm cats must have gotten this guy and brought him to the house as a “gift” though usually cats won't even mess with these mean little beasts! Or maybe we have one tough kitty!

Good. One of these, full grown, will take out an ENTIRE CHICKEN COOP IN ONE NIGHT!

Sunday I also decided to add a lean-to roof off of the side of the chicken coop so the chickens have somewhere outside that is always dry. It needs more framing to stabilize it and it's not complete yet. Now, I am a pretty capable person who can come up with a good plan for something and build it. My one big saving grace is using screws to put everything together. Because I can, and do measure things wrong, and sometimes think, “well that would have been better if it was lower / higher”  so I just unscrew it and adjust it or cut another piece. Yup, sometimes I measure 5 times and cut 5 times (especially when a building is not square) As you can see in my picture of the lean-to I think the roof will need to be at a steeper angle to stop the chickens from sitting on it.

To end off this wonderful week my chickens are now 7 weeks old and they are in the basement of the house. They are in an octagonal dog pen on a hard foam mat with shavings and its covered in a mesh net to keep them in. I check on them at about 8 am and refill the food and water, then they are okay for the day.  About 4 pm my dog Zoe went downstairs (she never does this ever) I shooed her upstairs and then went down to check on everything. I saw a few turds on the floor and instantly yelled  ZOE!! BAD DOG! (Zoe has not messed in the house in 10 years) then proceeded to the chicken room and found more turds and the culprits….3 chickens were out and by the looks of it they had been out since this morning. Poopy chicken prints adorned the mat in a lovely shade of brown –  thank goodness they wanted back in with their buddies and kept most of the poo on the rubber mat. I then went upstairs to apologize to Zoe with a few of my homemade mint dog cookies.

This little green machine carpet cleaner has cleaned up dog puke, pee, cat messes, cow poop from carpet and now chicken poop from carpet. It's maiden voyage was to my neighbors newly developed basement that my old dog decided to christen.  It's saved my carpets from perpetual bad smells for years and years and I will never go without one again. Best $90 I've spent by far.

So if anyone has a positive ID on this little chicken killer, let me know! We are guessing it is a lesser weasel. Have a great week and we will talk next Sunday!

Karami

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Welcome to Prairie Homesteading! I'm the resident writer of all things homesteading here on The Kitchen Magpie. I head up the care of all the animals out on the family farm in rural Alberta. Make sure to check out my Zoe's Best homemade dog treats section and have fun reading about all our homesteading adventures!

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