For my family, we have some knowledge of raising chickens; if a farmer were to take a quick assessment of our greatest strength, in terms of raising animals right away on our little farm, chickens would be the go-to animal to pick - it's within our zone of proximal development. We have a great chance of doing quite well with raising even more chickens. Our knowledge is in no way vast, as we have previously only raised city chickens - lovely spoiled rotten chickens who lived in a beautiful coop that looked like this!
Our new space for chickens isn't actually pretty compared to our city coop, our land isn't perfectly manicured, the coop is crazy old, and there's a lot of weeds to be cleared. We started our day by clearing out the coop - my husband did most of the work - it was full of dust, cobwebs, and wasps. We then discovered that the roosts weren't chicken friendly. Chickens really prefer a roost that they can wrap their foot around and these roosts were thin and flat (you can see them below the large round roost we added today).
We did a lot of reading about fencing before we picked out a fence. We had three things to think about - chickens escaping, predators getting inside, and simply considering how permanent we want this to be. If we hope to rotate the chickens in the various paddocks, permanent fencing would be a mistake. We ended up going with an electronet fence. It has a solar/battery charger and it gives off just enough shock to keep you away from it - we all tried it so we know :) And quite honestly, in terms of cost, I would consider it to be the most cost effective fencing for our particular plan. We got 164 feet for about 175 bucks - and we can move it if we want to. We set it in a location that allows the chickens to get shade, sun, as well as dust baths and plenty of places to explore.
So - lots of learning, but learning that occurred within our zpd (zone of proximal development). My husband had drawn up plans and created our city coop from scratch. Here, with a chicken coop already in place, we had to figure out how to work with what we have. With a little pulley physics, measurement, a handy power drill and a fence post driver and a lot of reading, we pulled it off. It's just the beginning of our plans. We are going to expand the coop to allow us to have two sides - one for hens, and one for meat chickens. And yes yes yes, of course I'm going to paint and doing something to make it pretty!
I think about all the learning that went into getting our coop "chicken ready" today, and I wonder, why are we allowing the corporations to drive public education - when learning could be so different? Why aren't we demanding learning that is holistic, engaging, and allows children to research, be outside more, and be mentally, physically and emotionally engaged? Learning that connects them to the earth? Learning that connects them to solutions for our many many problems? I wonder when the education revolution will occur - will the students lead it? Will they be so bored from the absolutely mind-numbing scripted online learning that they revolt? I fear with the direction the unions are going (normalizing charters and unionizing charter teachers and supporting ESSA), there's very little hope of a mass teacher uprising. Those that stand strong to demand all for all children are sadly chastised and labeled purists. It's an incredibly difficult world to navigate these days. I have immense respect for my teacher friends who are still pushing forward.
In the meantime, we have happy hens. We picked them up at the neighbors where they've been the last four months and there have been no complaints thus far. Happy Bring Our Chickens Home Day. Enjoy the pics my chicken friends!!!
|Luke puts Mrs. Piggle Wiggle over the fence|
|Happy happy chickens|