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The Poultry Complex

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.

Kalina helps line up nails for Daddy
Kalina helps line up nails for Daddy
The floor makes a great outdoor dance studio.
The floor makes a great outdoor dance studio.
Harley runs the wood through the sawmill.
Harley runs the wood through the sawmill.
I love the rough cut boards the most.
I love the rough cut boards the most.
Playing barefoot in the sawdust is one of the many perks of having a sawmill.
Playing barefoot in the sawdust is one of the many perks of having a sawmill.
Boards are transferred to the project.
Boards are transferred to the project.
Walls go up. The kids thought it was cool to "be inside but outside at the same time."
Walls go up. The kids thought it was cool to “be inside but outside at the same time.”
Reclaimed wood on three sides.
Reclaimed wood on three sides and reused windows for light.
Kalina and Harley admiring their work.
Kalina and Harley admiring their work.
Once the reclaimed boards were used up, Harley cut the rest of the boards to length by hand.
Once the reclaimed boards were used up, Harley cut the rest of the handmade boards to length by hand.
No power tools in the woods.
No power tools in the woods.
Next layer on.
Next layer on.
She definitely didn't get her bravery on heights from me.
She definitely didn’t get her bravery on heights from me.
One man work crew.
One man work crew.
Metal roof goes on.
Metal roof goes on.
 Checking out the new entrance.
Checking out the new entrance.
Need a few more boards for finish work.
Need a few more boards for finish work.
The chickens move in!
The chickens move in!
Roosting area being put to good use.
Roosting area being put to good use.
Guillotine door for outdoor access.
Guillotine door for outdoor access.
Feeding tray trial.
Feeding tray trial.
The feeder can be filled from the outside.
The feeder can be filled from the outside.
Outdoor pen for times when they need to be protected from predators.
Outdoor pen for times when they need to be protected from predators.
Solar panels for additional lighting in the winter.
Solar panels for additional lighting in the winter.
An old cabinet re-purposed as a nesting box.
An old cabinet re-purposed as a nesting box.

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.