Fort Sumner (Chicken Coop Edition)



As I walked out on my front porch several days ago I was feeling like I had accomplished something by looking at the new chicken coop and yard. The 15 baby chicks that usually are kept in a large box inside the chicken coop shed, in an old speaker box, were brought out into a new and larger container. I replaced one of the sides of the container with chicken wire so that the chicks could see outside the box and look at the bantam chickens in a chicken yard. Why was that important, I don’t know but it seemed like a good idea at the time. My wife and I were sitting in our chairs watching the chicks while the sun was shining. For short time, all seemed to be well.

Then the charge of all four of my dogs towards the chicken coop, they ran directly to the new container that the chicks were in. It seemed more like a Calvary charge, led by two small dogs and followed by two large dogs. That is when the pandemonium began. One of the large dogs went crazy trying to get to the chicks. My wife and I went from calling his name, Grady, to screaming his name and telling him to get away from the chicks. He was like a dog possessed and kept trying to put his nose through the chicken wire to get to the chicks. The other large dog seemed a bit confused about what he was supposed to do and so he ran around copying what Grady was doing. My wife and I went from being angry into a panic mode. I tried several times to hold Grady and stop him from attacking the chicks. But each time I try to control Grady he slipped away. He’s about 90 pounds of muscle; I am 200 + pounds of non-muscle. Finally, as I was almost totally exhausted, I was able to grab one of his paws and use my 200 pounds to hold him in place while my wife grabbed the container that the chicks were in and she dragged it into the shop and close the door. This cut off the dogs from the chicks. Then almost like Grady woke up, he calmed down and as I called his name he came to me with this tail wagging. Both the big dogs followed me back to the backyard and I closed the gate. I was totally exhausted; it felted like I was in a wrestling match. I use every bit of strength and strategy I could to keep Grady from getting through the chicken wire and killing the chicks. As I looked over to my wife she was experiencing shock and was crying while her whole body was shaking due to the experience. My dog Grady never tried to bite me nor did he growl at me while all of this is going on. If he had he it would’ve been his last day. But all he did was his best to get out of my grasp and go to the chicks. Directly after the event both I and my wife were so angry at the dogs that the thought crossed are minds to get rid of them. But after recouping and catching my breath, I realized it was more my fault that this happened.

When we first moved into the house I put up a temporary chain-link fence with several gates along the fence line. It did not have any latches on the gates; instead I use some bungee cord to pull the gate closed. For almost a year that has worked and the big dogs never pushed the gate open, which wouldn’t have taken much effort. I think what happened was that one of the little dogs realized they could push the gate open and when the big dog saw that, they followed suit. So if I would’ve done a better job and putting the gates in the fence line, this would not have happened. I felt awful that my wife had to go through that experience. It took her several days just to talk to the big dogs again. So I put several pipes into the ground to blocking the gate from opening and began correcting the situation.

This meant that, first of all, I had to change the gate situation. Secondly I needed to put up a perimeter fence around the chicken coop. I needed to do this so if the big dogs every escaped again they could not get near the chicken coop. I started the project by putting in a perimeter fence around the chicken coop. This took three days to accomplish, working at least eight hours a day on finishing the project. I went to the local Home Depot (when I say local I mean 25 miles away) and purchase some four foot tall welded fencing, and some more chicken wire along with six bags of cement. I knew that I didn’t have enough T post to cover the area of the perimeter fence. So I cut down some cedar trees and use them as post.

Before you get excited about the issue cutting down cedar trees I need to give you some background information. While creating a management plan for the tree farm the local forest ranger advised me to cut down and eliminate the cedar trees on the property. Cedar trees soak up well over 30% more water than other tree. And many of the Cedars grew in an area almost connected to the trunk of the oak trees. Since we have gone through a drought condition many of the oak trees on my property have died. One of the ways to manage the growth and the condition of the oak trees, and the pine trees is to eliminate the cedar trees that are next to or close to the other trees. And so as I looked on the property I found that I have probably 25 cedar trees of different height and ages next to the trunks of the oak and pine trees. And so I cut down six cedar trees that are located next to or near the oak and pine trees. I have several red oak trees on the property; they are huge and must be very old. During the drought three of the large red oak trees died, maybe because of lack of water or maybe because of the disease. I know that I want to keep the remaining oak trees as healthy as possible. So as it is about springtime and rain is starting to come down, I want to make sure that the remaining oak trees survive. So at the advice of the forest ranger and as part of my management program for the tree farm, I cut down six Cedars and will probably cut down s’more.

What I didn’t realize is that cedar trees are very heavy for their size. They’re fairly straight when you cut off the limbs and they seemed ideal to be used as a post. I put four of the cedar post on the edges of the fence perimeter and then cemented them in. I went back to the gate that the dogs got out of and took it out of fence line. Took out the gate and now there is just chain-link fencing where the gate used to be. I had to dig a post hole next to the house and then cemented in a metal pole, so that it could be an anchor pole. I drilled into the brick siding on the house and created an anchor to attach to the poll. This should make it able to handle the pressure that will happen when using a fence puller to tighten the fence.

All in all this is has taken me three days of hard work so that I can redeem myself from being so lazy when I put in the first fence and gate of the backyard. This also will guarantee that if the big dogs get loose again they cannot get near the chicken coop.

So, today as I walked out on the front porch with my coffee in hand I once again had the feeling of accomplishment. And if something should happen I know that I will work hard to make it right. I’m going to try to attach a couple pictures to this blog to show you the chicken perimeter fence and chicken coop and I will also add a picture of the end of one of the cedar trees that I cut down. The tree has a beautiful red color to it and I know why many people you cedar to build furniture.


Here’s to another day.


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