Notes from Windward: #69

Building a Chicken Tramp

some repurposing to ease over crowding


     Ramping up living systems is often an uneven process, especially when you're intentionally keeping those systems small so that the mistakes you will inevitably make won't be large enough to derail the project.

Sarah and Kerst assemble the frame

     A small example would be our temporary excess of chickens as we work our way towards breeding a flock of laying birds that meets our particular goals.

     We've learned that when ordering chicks through the mail, it's best to order 25 chicks given the size of the shipping boxes and the need for there to be enough chicks to keep each other warm without being so crowded that some chicks get trampled to death during shipment. Other key things to remember when purchasing chicks through the mail is to place your order in the spring when the weather's neither too hot or too cold and to order only one size of chick at a time so that the large chicks don't overwhelm the smaller chicks. We made the mistake of ordering Cuckoo Marans and Araucana Bantams in the same shipment, and out of the ten banties, only two survived.

Patrick, Sarah and Kerst connect the springs and mat

     As luck would have it, the surviving banties were a hen and a rooster who are currently enjoying a private suite in the ChickPlex. They're producing the most darling little green eggs from which we hope to hatch more banties.

a green Araucana egg contrasted
with a standard white and brown egg

     Banties do lay small eggs, but they're valued instead for their strong brooding instincts which make them happy to set most any eggs presented to them. The plan is to have a team of Banty hens that can hatch out replacement hens, thereby providing an biological alternative to the Warmerator. Sustainable systems need to have more than one way to accomplish critical functions, and our Banties are "Plan B."

     A key premise that guides our work is that as the age of cheap energy and resources comes to an end, people aren't going to be able to build a new, sustainable world using new materials. Instead, they're going to have to find innovative ways to re-purpose existing resources. The goal of this project is to repurpose a discarded backyard trampoline into a portable chicken coop--a Chicken Tramp!

Sarah and Cleo enjoy bouncing on the assembled tramp

     Lots of people buy trampolines for their kids, but kids get older and their interests progress. As a result, used trampolines are readily available for little money, and sometimes for free. Kerst was able to get ahold of one of these free tramps and brought it up to Windward as a solution for the temporary over-crowding situation we're having as we grow out the new additions to our flock.

      We purchased more chickens that we envision needing with the intention of selecting the most vigorous as working stock, and putting the remainder in the freezer. That selection process will happen this fall soon after the first hard frost kills off the flies and yellow jackets, but until then the more space we have to spread out our birds, the better since a lot of the problems chickens come from over crowding them.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 69