Sometimes Harley gets these big ideas in his head and I don’t believe he’s actually going to do it until it’s done. He is amazingly efficient, creative and productive. What would we do without him?
Way back in September, Harley started working on upgrading our existing turkey shelter. When we first moved in, the old run down shed was obviously on its last legs. It had been used as a run-in for cattle in the past, but we used it for our turkeys. This year we didn’t have much luck hatching poults, so decided to butcher our remaining birds and start over with a new coop next year. The other goal for the upgrade was to get the chickens out of the the barn so that we could free the second stall for ever-growing Shine and baby.
This new “poultry complex”, as Harley likes to call it, would house the chickens on one side and the turkeys on the other. There is some risk of cross-contamination of a disease called “Blackhead” when you house chickens and turkeys together, so the two areas would need to be separated by a wall to limit interaction, and have two separate outdoor areas. This fall Harley focused on building the chicken area.
In his research, he found out that chickens need about 15 hours of light in order to continue laying eggs. Since this area is mostly wooded, we would need to supplement with artificial light. Because we want eggs. But there is no electricity in the woods, so we would need to find a way to power the lights off-grid. Enter solar panels and LED lighting. Apparently, LED lights cover a more complete spectrum than incandescent or fluorescent lights, which leads to happier, healthier and more productive layers. There is some interesting research on the effects of LED lighting in poultry farming. Here’s a great link with more information on the study.
We were able to source a decent amount of reclaimed lumber from a family friend who was taking down an old structure. The rest of the lumber came from our own property. Harley cut the trees, moved the logs, processed them into boards and nailed them all by hand. All while the kids and I watched and took pictures. Here is a summary of the progress. It was pretty awesome to see it come together.
And now we wait. The ladies stopped laying for a couple of weeks due to the move and adjusting lighting, etc, but they’ve just started to give us a few eggs a day again. We hope they like their new digs.