"Fort Knox" is our affectionate term for the chicken coop/dog kennel combo that we set-up in August to keep our little darlings safe. We have two Brahmas and two Orpingtons ---the sweetest girls on the planet. Both breeds that are known for their temperament, cold-hardiness, ability to handle confinement like little troopers. Naturally, like most pet owners, we've developed a substantial attachment to our fluffy "babies". (You know you're a crazy pet owner when you start calling them your baby... ;-)
We received a very generous wedding present in the form of a hand-made Pennsylvania Dutch coop. The Dog Kennel requires a little explanation. After talking with a shop-keeper in town and discovering we have two litters of raccoons living in the pond marsh, we had to take some drastic measures before moving the chicks outside. Free range was not only not in the best interests of our neighbours (or the traffic which piles up occasionally near Pond House when the waterfowl try to cross the road) but it would compromise the chicks' safety. After researching online, we stumbled upon a 6'x10'10 kennel--- offering about 25 sq ft. of space per bird. The obliging hole where the grody old swimming pool sat seemed like a perfect place to set up chicken camp. The kennel was buried 6" into the ground, along with sheets of poultry wire and the pre-existing pool embankment. The exposed panels were covered in 36" of poutry wire from the ground up, and the top is composed of poultry wire. This little set-up is quite secure for the girls. At night, we take the food in, utilize solar lights and a patio light, and put on a shower radio--- all measures to discourage raccoons. Garbage is no longer kept outside our garage, but only inside the garage or at the base of the driveway. All these little changes added up. Knock on wood, we've been issue-free from the second night until now and haven't seen any raccoons in the yard since. (Before chickens, they loved to terrorize our garbage.)
But now, we have a hurricane about to bear down on us. That makes matters complicated for everyone in the metro area, and we're unsure of how Fort Knox (or the 380-lb chicken coop) would handle this. They're heavy, they're critter-proof, but they're not permanent structures.
And so... we've moved the chickens inside the unfinished second bedroom, where they started their lives as little, peeping fuzzballs. I purchased heavy-duty sheeting at Costello's, and we found a portable dog playpen at the Lake Grove Petco and a sturdy, untippable double-dish dog bowl at the Nesconset Petsmart. Jay Cardinal created a roof out of deer netting and lined the floor with hay.
Getting them back inside the house was interesting. Since they've always been handled, they didn't put up much of a fight, but the experience (like most involving chicken-keeping) was extremely comedic. I'd pick them up and place them in a sterlite bin, one-at-a-time, and DH with clean shoes would shuttle them into the house and the temporary coop. There was no shortage of bawking during the process.
Unfortuntaely, they're much stinkier now than when they lived here before, even with the door shut. As the chicks have sensitive lungs, aromatic measures like candles are not an option. FORTUNATELY, there are a lot of great, natural ways to get rid of unpleasant odors that require no electricity. White bread soaked in apple cider vinegar is possibly my favourite.
Hopefully in another day or two, we'll be able to bring them back out. Now that they've calmed down, they seem to be taking to their new home better. We'll get you back out soon, girls!
I'm cute and little and I don't smell toooo bad yet...
Everyone can fit on Daddy's knee!
In our temporary home!
I. is checking out the water; you can see a little
Orpington tushie in the background.
Our two stress eaters, M. and I.
Please be safe, L.I.! No heroics! Take any mandatory evacuation orders seriously, and if you haven't done so already, please check your yard carefully for objects that could become flying projectiles as the winds worsen. We'll look forward to knowing everyone is safe and sound at the other end of this crazy storm.