chicken questions and more : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi all I have been saving up questions so here i go #1) I have roosts in my coop but the ladies don't use it is that because ther round or because is to dark to find them that brings us to #2)We open the chicken hole( our name for the small door) at sunrise and close it after the ladies have gone in for the night should I have a light in the coop for them (I understand in the winter I should for egg production)#3) my coop is one that was in C.S. one large door for us a chicken hole a clean out hatch and a egg door should I have a window for air and light #4)I was told by the feed store that they were all hens my wife and I have a bet She thinks two of them are roosters at 13 weeks will should it be clear as of there sex #4 (and the big one)I'm looking at some land 40 acres in the northwest I have butterflies every time I think of it I'm 42 years old and need to take 8 years to have this land mortgage free, and still must remain here for my eldery mother in law( you could'nt blast her out of her house)I have been honing my homestead skills for 5 years now and have allways been a jack of all trades. Did I wait to long to try this( I understand only I can say yes or no but I do value your opinions)is it to hard to start at 50 I know some of you are doing it at even latter years but knowing how it is to get started would you do it. I have a knot in my stomach just writing this. Thank for all your help in the past and in the future.Shaun

-- shaun cornish (, May 09, 2000


Shaun, 1) round roosts can work, could they be too big or too small? Too high or low? Try changing them. Our roost is attached fairly high on the back wall, but the front end slopes down to rest on cement blocks. That makes it easier for chickens of any size to get up. 2) Seems like kind of a dark coop. Light wouldn't hurt to help them get settled. 3) I'd add a window (or more) 4) sexing mistakes do happen.

I'm not clear on whether you need 8 years to pay off the mortgage where you are now or the 40 acres in the NW. In any event, you're already started, you just might change a few details when you're 50. Can you afford to pay for both the land where you are now, and the land you are looking at? Including taxes and the possiblity of any assessments that might get thrown on either piece of land. If you're sure this NW land is the piece you have to have, you can afford it, and you understand the risks involved with buying undeveloped land, go for it.

I think at age 50 you'd have a lot more problems if you'd always been a city boy with no particular homesteading skills and the firm belief that the grocery stores somehow grow milk in cartons in the back room. There are a lot of hard decisions to make, and in the end only you and your wife can make them. But if you want to practice the blasting of mother's-in-law, I'll give you my MIL's address....Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun, square poles are better for roosts -- easier for the chickens to hold onto. I second Gerbil on the need for a window, though -- even though the hens aren't usually inside during the daytime. They do need light and ventilation. You will want a light in the hen- house, if only to make things a little easier for you at times. Your winter light can be a lower wattage light, if you feel you have to have one. I think the hens will have a longer useful life if they aren't pushed to keep laying heavily through the winter -- when we were in Alaska, we didn't have a light in our henhouse -- or a window, for that matter. And of course winter is a lot longer and a lot darker there. But we had plenty of eggs all winter -- if we got them before they froze, which doesn't take too long at seventy degrees below zero!!

As far as your age, no problem. As long as your health is still good you can homestead for many years yet. We had some friends in Alaska who moved up there and started homesteading (in the sense the word is used now) when they were well into their fifties. Of course, they had been farmers in Michigan, but they gave that up for health reasons, had health problems when we knew them, and still got more done than most people half their age!! If you have found a really good piece of land at a good price, with reasonable taxes, and you don't think it is going to end up in the middle of a development or some other undesirable situation, I would go for it. Land prices will probably keep going up, barring some major catastrophe, and if you wait you may find yourself having to pay even longer to get it paid off. It is a stressful decision to make, so be sure you talk to your wife about it, look at the land before you buy it, take your time and don't get rushed into anything. And don't take on more than you can handle financially -- you seem to have been doing well so far, you don't want to swamp yourself now. Of course, if you had the land and the economy crashed and you lost your job, you could move to the land and at least grow your own food -- under those circumstances, I'm sure your mother-in-law would realize that it was better to move than to see her grandchildren starving!! (Maybe!?!)

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun I think gerbils got some good advice regarding the chickens. Is 50 too late? I don't think so. I'm 54 and we just really got started last year. We sold the other place which freed some money up, put up a used double wide, more or less starting from scratch as far as the land is concerned. I too am fairly handy and in reasonably good health. Is this 40 close unuf so you could spend some weekends there. Will your budget allow for some of the initial things in getting ready for the eventual move. You know, putting in a driveway, clearing a place for the eventual house, planting an orchard etc?

-- john leake (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun: Not to worry, 50 isn't old for some,and it is ancient for others. If you and your wife are in good health, can afford the land, I'd say go for it. Hubby and I are hoping to get a home and acreage that is supposed to be auctioned off soon, and he did have one sleepless night worrying about whether we were too old, too inexperienced, it was too much work, etc. We talked it over, discussed the pros and cons, and now I think he is ok with it. Just take it one step at a time, prioritize, do as much as you can without going into debt you can't handle if something you lose your job, become injured and don't have disability insurance, etc. Don't be scared off because it looks like too much to handle. Just list all the possiblities, what needs to be done first, and do what you can as you are paying it off. Plant trees, clear trees, etc. Good luck! As far as the chickens go, our youngest batch is about the same age as yours and there is one rooster in there. He is very obviously a rooster, and is beginning to crow. Pitifully, but you can tell what he is. Different breeds have different combs, etc. We made roosts like a ladder, leaning into the wall, and they hop up from the bottom. Used square boards nailed onto the two side boards. The older hens, however, will NEVER use it. They didn't have roosts the first year we had them, and don't seem to know what they are for. They roost on the sides of the nest boxes. Jan B

-- Jan (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun, you guys can do it! Look at all your successes already! And you are very courageous, which is the best character trait you will need. I sure hope 50 isn't old, since I am 48. If it is, I had better get real busy for the next 2 years!

-- sheepish (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun,all I know about chickens is that they are the big birds that live in my Amish neighbor's yards,my old dog ate them in Texas,and they taste mighty good at a barbeque...husband is 57, I am 52 (egad!) and we are starting on our homesteading dream in two weeks..Here's how we look at it...we are NOT dead yet, therefore, except for wanting to be a ballerina,and husband being Rudolph Nuryev, all things are possible, including learning about chickens and cisterns, and solar panels,and YES even GOATS !!!!!!!!!!!Why the heck not???? As long as you have this forum and the wonderful folks who freely give good solid advice, how can you not follow your dream???? Good luck !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Lesley Chasko (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun, is your chicken coop built like the one in the Sept/Oct 1998 issue? I had a few problems with that design. It was a real nice looking coop lots of eye appeal seemed to have plenty of outside space for the 6 hens, I liked the idea of placing the hen house 3' off the ground but the hen house it self seemed too narrow it was 2' x 6' had 4 nest 2 over 2 and a roost. Seemed a little crowed for such a narrow space. Steve did not show or say witch way he postioned the roost and I could not think of a practicle place. I think it should of had a window for light and ventalation. Sorry Steve! How about letting us no how it worked out in the long run.

-- Mark (, May 09, 2000.

Shaun, Birds can be downright picky about roosts, and often they will simply go unused because one bird won't get the "ball rolling". I've never found electric light a neccessity in my coup unless continued winter production numbers are a priority. Natural light and thorough air circulation are vital to good production and health of birds, increased ammonia levels will cut production, so give 'em fresh air. At 13 weeks you should easily be able to sex most breeds visually. And dittoes to those who have told you to go for it at 50ish. Dreams ignored become nightmares. Best to you and yours. Dan B.

-- Dan Baker (, May 09, 2000.

ugggg!!! I was almost done and lost the hole thing! OK thanks to all of you for your advice and support.I'm going ahead with a little more info. Instead of the 40A undeveloped land i'm looking at 20 with a building site with a well & water and power at the property line.The 8 tear thing is so we can have the land paid off and our preasent hone 90% paid off pull the equity out or just sell as a grub stake. My daughter lives 100 miles away and is going to take a look and see if it is worth my going up to yake a look. My blood pressur is bacl to normal thanks to all your suport and what an old man tole a long time ago "I don't regreat what i've done I regreat what I didn't do".thanks again. Mark i got my coop plans from vol.82-no6 nov.-dec. 1998 just didn't put the window in. I'll let you know how it goes now that I can beath again Shaun&terri

-- shaun cornish (, May 10, 2000.

as you see i didn't proof read the second draft sorry

-- shaun cornish (, May 10, 2000.

shaun-email me a list of your property priorities and i will start combing the papers. i will save them and bring them down for you in june. I don't know if mom would go for Oregon but i think property is slightly cheaper down there. East of the cascades is less rain so mom won't mold. : ) you are a young vital free spirit shaun...age doesn't matter. i love you both.

-- amber (, May 10, 2000.

I've been busy, so this is a very late answer. Our extension service recommends 2x4s with the wide side up, and corners rounded as a good roost. I had been using saplings and 2x4s with the narrow side up. Do not use pipe or anything slippery. Rough cut 2x4s are pretty cheap, and they seem to be ideal. And you young pups needn't worry. Go for it! 42! For heavens sake! GL!

-- Brad (, May 14, 2000.

My hens didn't roost at this age either. Also if you close them in until after they start laying and then let them out, they will be used to laying in the nest boxes. Letting them out to early in the morning, will have them laying all over the yard, and unless your big into Easter Egg hunting, your setting yourself up for it. Weve done all the homesteading stuff once, and I am looking forward when we retire to do it again, differently of course. Change is great and keeps you young. We are 43 and 41. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (, May 15, 2000.

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