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#64237 - 11/30/04 01:21 AM Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Sadlm2 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 135
Loc: California
I re-read the headings to try to figure out exactly where this post should go - I'm still not sure I'm where I should be but I chose this one because "equipment" is mentioned...and I'm finding that I'm needing more and more devices to help me care for my flock as I get older and unhappily weaker and less well-balanced on my feet.
What used to take me half an hour in the morning now takes me an hour because I have to move slower to be more careful.
I was wondering if anyone else has come up with some ideas for their own use that they could share.
For example: the coop and range area is down an approx. 45 degree slope. I used to be able to haul the 50 lb. bags of feed down there easily. It's grown harder and harder not only to lift & carry the bags but also not to slip and fall on my way down.
A couple of months ago, to my heart's delight, one of my sons surprised me by creating steps down to the coop area which makes life a whole lot easier as far as not slipping..but I still can't haul the bags by myself any more. I'm reduced to opening the bags at the top of the stairs, pouring about a half out into another container and making two trips per 50 lb. bag. I've been looking in the car parts ads - like PepBoys - at winches and lifts etc thinking that I could rig up some sort of winch/pulley system that would be able to lift the bags about 5' off the ground, then swing out over some fencing and finally lower down to the coop area about 10' below.
Another problem is watering - does anyone use any systems that move water automatically from coop/yard area to other coops/yard areas? I've seen the systems that pipe water all around using a nipple or cup apparatus. Has anyone used something like this and is it costly?
I don't mind getting older and moving into different life phases but it just makes me nuts to feel like a weakling.

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#64238 - 11/30/04 09:07 AM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8490
Loc: Montana
I don't mind talking about OLD--I am there and still my bantams are my main project--to get me up in the morning, outside several times a day--as you say, an hour for what used to take much less time! The garden doesn't look like it did years ago, but I do what I can, there, also. But I won't stop--if you sit down too much, you DO get OLD! TV just doesn't take the place of DOING things.

Fortunately, my area is fairly flat. For heavy things, like feed sacks that I cannot lift very well (and shouldn't with fragile bones), I have some big black squarish tubs, that I found at the hardware store some years ago. Made holes at one end to attach binder twine long pull loop. It slides across the grass, bare ground and snow and ice very easily, even with a heavy load. You would have to get behind it to let it down your steps faster than you might like! I actually got several to pull feed out to the horses. Could get enough hay in 2 of them, pulled at the same time, to feed 4 horses. Now, I use them to drag my garbage bucket, feed for the chickens, and all kind of stuff, easily. (I also have a garden cart, which is great for heavy loads over the level ground!) I can get the feed sacks into the shop area, where I keep 3 large garbage (Starter, Layer, Scratch )cans-- to keep the mice out. I carry paint cans of feed to each of the 3 houses and always leave several in each house to top off the feeders as needed. Water still has to be carried, each waterer goes to the nofreeze hydrant at the barn and with 12 waterers, usually 2 or 3 need cleaning in a bucket of Chlorox solution, every few days and refilling. If I had to go down a hill, I would take a bucket of water down, and leave it at the coop. My houses are heated to above freezing, so water seldom freezes. Floors are colder and even raised on blocks, if it is 30 below for a week, water may freeze at the pens near the ends of the houses--never in the middle. I do not want automatic waterers. I have seen and heard of too many floods--do not want to handle that disaster or thaw frozen pipes. But I do have good lighting, motion lights, timers, heaters to use when needed (NO frozen combs-ever), lots of electric outlets that make many jobs easier and more convenient.

There is lots of singing and crowing in the houses, so I am confident that the birds are content, as well as productive. They truly respond when they hear me coming--winter means codliveroil sandwiches-- a celebration with the bantams several times a week!

I continually have to work out things to make it, not just easier, but to make it POSSIBLE to enjoy caring for my birds, that I am very fond of and they have done so well for me! Kept more than usual this winter--38 birds in 13 pens. One miserable looking old rooster, that was given to me years ago, lives alone in one pen. He is WILD, or I would have given him away years ago. He was not young when he came here 6 or 7 years ago, and is nothing I want to breed with any of my hens, so he goes through the seasons well fed, treated for mites, and he crows and talks as though he owned everything!

I hate not being strong and as active as I once was--but no use wasting time feeling sorry about that--I have lots and lots of things that I CAN do that I haven't even started yet--and am not about to give up my bantams (I did give up horses, but still have some old timers, that my daughter takes to her place for the winter, so I no longer have to toss hay!)--They will be back next summer to pasture, when the grass is green again! And I still have some sets of harness from the 6-8 Grade Percherons that did all the farm work here in the early 1900s and into the 1920s and 30s--and still had one team to haul hay, from stacks, by sled, in winters, to the cattle, during the early 1950s. Most of the horse drawn farm equipment is parked here and there. No one forgets the HARD work, but first we remember the peace and quiet of the times, the laughter of all the children of large families between shcool and chore times--and the world does not seem a safer place at all.

CJR

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#64239 - 11/30/04 09:13 AM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Anonymous
Unregistered


I don't know if you want to go to the expense of a 4-wheeler, but I sure have found mine helpful. They have winches you can get with them, and you can attach a cart to haul things with. With creatively-rigged pulley systems, they can do a lot of heavy lifting for you, saving your back. A 4-wheeler can do a lot of the things a good mule used to do!

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#64240 - 11/30/04 08:14 PM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Anonymous
Unregistered


Sadlm2,
I don't know where you live so I don't know what "winter" issues you have to deal with. The steps, although beneficial for you (I hope they put in a hand rail also) is about as unsafe as a grassy slope. I love the ideas of the rubber tubs. We have them at our store that come in 6 sizes!
How far is it that you actually have to carry the feed down, and is at "that" point that it has to go over a fence 10 more feet? Also, how far does the water have to go to the coops, how many coops and what kind of winter weather do u have?
I can create almost anything from almost nothing if I know what it is I'm trying to achieve. wink
I'll give it a go!!
Sally

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#64241 - 11/30/04 11:49 PM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Sadlm2 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 135
Loc: California
Thanks for your responses, Stacey & CJR. I do appreciate them.

Stacey, your suggestion may be at least part of the answer for me however (and I hate to seem so dense) what do you mean by a “4-wheeler”? A small yard tractor? A sort of ATV?? I’m open to anything that will be able to operate in the conditions on my property and facilitate the care of my flock. (The slopes & access are the main hazards with machinery. We have to clear the rear hillside each year due to fire regulations and it must be done by hand as the slope of canyon wall is too steep for tractors)

Actually your last sentence and CJR’s comment about her horses might be pretty constructive too. If the 4-wheeler won’t work, maybe a mule or horse will! The BLM offers horses and donkeys up for adoption around here every so often…then I would just have the problem of loading the horse/donkey but…then CJR’s suggestion to “sled” the goods in might work. Sorry, I’m thinking “outloud” on the keyboard.

CJR…you know, I don’t think I’ll ever forget you even though we’ve never met! You have been so gracious – so generous with your knowledge – to everyone over the time I’ve been participating in this discussion group.

Where I live, it gets cold but not freezing so I could have a sort of water-way of pipes for conveying water. My worry is more how to keep that sort of system clean and to ensure against broken pipes due to the high cost of water here.

High wind is also a major problem here. I am constantly reworking the overhead netting, replacing tarpaulins…I once had a metal 8 X 10 shed totally lifted 20 feet off the ground and parts carried up to 30 feet away.

I do have some electricity to the area – enough for the electric fencing, also motion sensor lights so I can see going down the steps. I have a fans in the coops for the heat which can get to and stay at over 100 degrees for several days running but I was wondering about how to provide warmth when the winds kick up and it’s in the upper thirties. I was thinking about buying some radiant heaters but discarded that idea when I thought about what a fire hazard that would be. Any ideas?

Well, thanks again for listening. I agree that to stop doing what we do would be disasterous.

Warm regards to all,

Linda

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#64242 - 12/01/04 12:18 AM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Sadlm2 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 135
Loc: California
Sally, thank you!

I was just posting my previous response to Stacey & CJR when I saw your post.

Let me try to describe what I’m dealing with: If you picture a mountain road, you see the side of the hill, a horizontal cut for the roadway, and then the rest of the hill falling to the canyon (or whatever) below.

My driveway as you enter (in a southerly direction) the property sort of goes up the “hill” of our property. (the slope ascends to the right of the driveway at that point and descends to the left. At a certain point on the left are the stairs my son put in. Exactly where they go down (to the right or to the southerly direction of the steps) is also the start of a 10 foot retaining wall which holds up the parking area that also starts at that point in the driveway and extends for maybe 100’ from that point. On top of the retaining wall is about a 4.5’ tall fence to keep cars from going over the edge. So…now as I come in with the feed, I stop at the stairs and unload and get them down as best I can. With a winch/pulley system, I’d pull further forward onto the parking pad along the fence so I could hoist the feed over the fence and then drop it down the 4.5’ of fencing and the 10’ of the wall and avoid the steps altogether.

The “chicken yard” area is rectangular and contained by about 450 linear feet of electrical net fencing. Inside the net fencing is a line of wire fencing. The area inside that is divided into 7 areas with coops in three of them. Right now, I have a coop for my more adult hens, a juvenile coop and the roos have their own coop also. I’d like to get coops for two more areas but I’ve been reluctant to build more due to before I’m able to resolve the issue of hauling the water and the feed. (***oops- see? I just heard a crash outside – tomorrow morning I’ll go out to see something else that’s been destroyed by the wind…)

Sally, please let me know if this gives you a clear enough idea of the area. Any suggestions you have will be gratefully received.

More warm regards,
Linda

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#64243 - 12/02/04 03:59 AM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Anonymous
Unregistered


Linda,

A 4-wheeler is a type of ATV. They have farm 4-wheelers and then they have the ones the kids ride for sport.

I have a trailer which hooks to the back of my 4-wheeler. It's small enough to haul behind it, yet large enough that I can hook the trailer to the truck and haul the 4-wheeler on top of it.

I see lots of used ones all over the place - the Hondas are supposedly the most dependable over time.

You can do so many things with them - I'm getting a snowplow for mine this year. You can drag tillers behind them, attach riding mower accessories etc. But what I think is really neat is using a pulley system or winch with them to move heavy things.

They've replaced horses on a lot of farms, as they can pull, carry, herd cattle, etc. etc.

I'll be interested to know how you resolve these issues, as I may find myself single as I age - and I certainly am not willing to give up my independence!

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#64244 - 12/02/04 09:15 PM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Anonymous
Unregistered


ok, for instance...It seems that you have enough slope to work a type ofpipeline for the feed, No carrying, just pour into top, retrieve from bottom when needed. ^ inch pipe is the best,
the same can have a similarprocedure,

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#64245 - 12/02/04 11:49 PM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Sadlm2 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 135
Loc: California
Stacey & Sally, Thanks so much for the ideas..I'll have to investigate the 4-wheelers to see what's available around here..and the pipes, if they could be sealed to protect from rodents might work in parts of the yard..Great ideas!
Thank you all....

PS: Ladies,have you noticed that no "roosters" have any thoughts on this....it's interesting...

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#64246 - 12/03/04 07:17 AM Re: Keeping up with my Flock as I age
Braker Offline
Feather

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 43
Loc: Wisconsin
Quote:
Originally posted by sadlm2:
PS: Ladies,have you noticed that no "roosters" have any thoughts on this....it's interesting...
We don't last as long...

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