This weekend the Boy and I headed out by bike to participate in the Tour de Coop, a tour of local backyard chickens and the people who keep them. I was surprised to discover that there are other folks in my neighborhood who keep chickens! Based on the reaction of my immediate neighbors, you would think I was the only person on the planet keeping poultry in my back yard.
I went, partly, in search of ideas for improvements to my hen house. Although I am very proud of the open and spacious chicken yard I created for the girls, I have been feeling like a more secure and insulated hen house would help the chickens feel safe when the neighborhood gets rowdy (like 4th of July) as well as keeping them more protected from the elements (so that the egg laying might be more reliable). The tour included everything from very basic coops, to straw bale hen houses. The coop in the photo is not mine, but I sure like it. I got a lot of great ideas for improvements, and also got the advice, from several of the folks, that Ester wont be happy on her own. Chickens are very social and intelligent critters, and the consensus on the tour was that we should get her a new friend, now that Ruby is gone.
The Boy and I are also trying to hatch duck eggs in an incubator. We choose duck eggs for a number of reasons, roosters are not allowed in the city, so we had no access to local fertile chicken eggs, and I have had ducks in the past and really enjoyed them. I am not convinced that ducks will take the place of a fellow chicken for Ester, but I do know that they are amazing at eradicating slugs, produce great organic fertilizer, and wonderful eggs. This is our second attempt this summer to hatch eggs, the first batch got over heated during the heat wave, now that things have cooled off a bit we are hoping for better results.