* so far.
The pink gazebo arrived via UPS Friday afternoon and I couldn’t wait to get it all set up. I was so fed up with the old system, and this one promised to be a vast improvement.
Job number one: I couldn’t do anything with the chicks still in the coop, so that meant I had to wait for a sunny day. Voilà! Saturday was gorgeous. I set up the older dog crate for the biddies to inhabit as they met the great outdoors. Easy peasey. Ummm…
It took Stepdaughter the Elder to point out that this crate? The one in which Buffy did her rehab?:
Stepdaughter the Elder took one look at it after I had set it up, and was standing back triumphantly surveying the result, stuck her wise, ten-year old hand between two of the bars and wiggled her fingers. Her wordless message was all too clear: this crate’s bars are farther apart than the old brooder’s; the chicks would wiggle through these bars in fewer than two seconds.
Sigh. If only there were a contingency plan. If only I had another crate that would work as an outside crate…
It was perfect. I knew our found treasure would come in handy some day, I just didn’t realise it would be within the week. I set up the Brinsea, the 100w lamp, put in a waterer and some feed, and the girls were ready for their biggest adventure yet. Fearing the curiousity of both cats and fully-grown hens, I topped the crate and weighted the top with bricks. Mama didn’t raise no fool.
While they enjoyed their time in the sun, from 10am-3pm, I set to work in the coop. I dismantled the brooder I’ve been hating, and began clearing away sand. The old brooder was about 42″ x 30″; the pink penthouse is a 48″ octagon, 36″ in height. Once there was a clear spot on the floor large enough for the new brooder:
I set up the pink pagoda. (Please note, in the photo above, Abby cowering in the far nesting box. She did so the entire time I was working, with a look that said “What fresh hell is this??!!”):
This clever thing folds down into a portfolio case the size of one of the panels, and it springs open very easily. It’s pretty genius. Both the canvas floor and the mesh ceiling can be zippered in or left out. I debated whether I should leave the floor out, as it is in the photo above, and decided sand weighing down the floor would give the brooder added stability:
The pink palazzo is intended for use by dogs, and comes equipped to hold a waterer bottle, which works out really well, seeing as 2.0 just learned how to drink from one:
I filled the floor with fresh sand, set up the Brinsea, the ceramic heat lamp and the feed dish. Only one problem remained to be solved: at 36″ in height, the pink gazebo (okay, I’ve had my fun; I’ll stick with that one now) is more than tall enough that I needn’t fear 2.0 getting out the open top, but…how was I going to keep 1.0 from getting in?
The playpen comes with a zip-in mesh ceiling, and I suppose I would have cut a hole in it to allow for the cord of the ceramic heat lamp, but that would, surely, only invite them to land on top. This thing is seriously cutting into their morning landing strip when it’s time to disembark from the roosts. And, if they did? The whole thing would collapse from their weight.
Nope, the mesh ceiling wasn’t going to get the job done. It needed something vertical, easy to see, secure, but easy to move aside if I needed full access. It needed:
Mosquito netting. Well, sort of. This is netting we had around for making trellises for snow peas. I hung it from the C-hook installed to hold the heat lamp, circled it around the pen, and fastened it taut to the top edges with clothespins. A convincing barrier for the hens, and easy to move for me.
It was ready:
The babies had a great day outside, and, as a side benefit, had lots of safe contact with their big sisters:
They were cautious at first, but their curiousity, as always, got the better of them:
They love their new home, and it’s palatial, by brooder standards. They still want to be out in the coop, though. They are becoming very brave…