The Chicken or the Eggmobile

Author Photo
By Lori Havens

Spring is approaching rapidly here at Farm on the Hill. After a difficult winter, Bryan and I took advantage of the first warm-ish day in February to work on the Eggmobile, which will be rolled out of the tractor shed and onto the pasture once it’s warm and dry enough out there … and we have a flock of laying hens to live in it! Since ours is a farm start-up, the structures come first, then the livestock will join us. Bryan is modeling his Eggmobile after the one he saw while at Polyface Farms as well as the one he worked with during his internship in New York.

The cats’ Winter Quarters are in the tractor shed, so they were excited that we joined them for the afternoon!

The final adjustments for the day:

A neighboring farmer had an old coop in his barn, which he sold to us at a great price. We were grateful for it, as the budget is getting really tight right now. We can’t wait to sell some eggs and chickens this summer to ease the strain!

Earlier this week, we ventured into the barn to take stock of what we had yet to do in the room he is turning into the brooder for the baby chicks, which are on order and will arrive the end of March. Last summer, Bryan and a friend worked in brutal heat and humidity to repair the old, original concrete floor of that room, filling in holes with gravel and sand and concrete, then smoothing two layers of Quick Crete over the whole area, taking care to allow plenty of time for the surfaces to cure between steps. They did a great job, and it looked ready.

When we looked at it the other day, we were dismayed to find that about one-fourth of the floor was covered with a slick of ice … a sure sign that we have a water leak from the outside as the snow melts and the rain falls, both of which had happened just a few days prior. In addition, part of the new concrete has a bit of a “bounce” to it when we step on it, meaning that it has separated from the base below, and is likely to crack. NONE of this bodes well for raising baby chicks in there! After dealing with the discouragement, we grabbed all the plywood that we were going to use for the brooder walls after putting in the insulation batts, and hauled it down into the farmhouse basement, which is yet unfinished, and has a solid concrete floor.

It will serve as the temporary brooder until the temperatures warm up enough outside and the ground firms up enough that we can get the little work truck, stocked with concrete, to the barn in order to pour a new floor. Like the astronauts in Apollo 13, I’d love to think that “we’ve just had our glitch for this mission,” but I’m sure plenty of other things will go wrong for us, too, as we do everything for the first time. Flexibility and resourcefulness are key attributes we’re developing, as well as keeping a loose grasp on our plans so it doesn’t hurt so badly when they are ripped out of our grip!

We cannot wait until the sun is warm and we can sit on the deck with a tall glass of ice tea while we look out at our EggMobile, Chicken Tractors, and contented sheep on the lush, green pasture. It can’t come soon enough!

Published on Mar 10, 2014