First and foremost, thank you to everyone for all of the kind and encouraging words sent after last Sunday’s post.  It was nice to hear from so many of you, and also to have some of your ideas and thoughts on tackling the problem of the raccoons in the coop and mice in the equipment!

Spring at the farm always seems to be the time of year that everywhere you turn, a project is either starting, in process, just completed, or just created.  With the weather finally warming to the 40’s and 50’s – this week had it’s share of projects in all of those phases:

Update On The Hens and Raccoons:

The cat was not happy with his capture!
The cat was not happy with his capture!  He happily ran off off after his release and went back to his life of leasure.

We spent the last week making an extra nightly trip to the coop to shut off the entrance from the enclosed run to the coop.  We have finally figured out that it must be baby raccoons wedging themselves into the coop through the 1.5 x 4″ wire mesh fencing we have in the coop run.  For two years, we never had a single problem with a predator entering our coop until now. Most likely, the baby raccoons are just small enough to squeeze through.   For now, shutting off the entrance has kept them safe.  This week – we will install smaller mesh to the outside of the run to keep them out.

On a somewhat humorous note – we have set two live traps each night to hopefully catch the raccoons.  To this point – they have worked incredibly well in catching and holding only a couple of neighborhood cats! Apparently, cats love the taste of marshmallows and peanut butter bread too!  Needless to say – the look on the cats face as we let them out is one of pure disgust.  I haven’t been able to figure out if the disgust is at us for setting the live traps, or at themselves for being caught in such a basic walk-in trap :).

The Honey Bee Project:

The beehive is all assembled and ready for our first hive!
The beehive is all assembled and ready for our first hive!

Our quest to have our first bee hive is getting close!  The bees are scheduled to arrive the 19th of April, and we spent the last two weeks building the beehive from the kit we purchased last month.  It’s actually quite the process to assemble all of the boxes, frames and beeswax foundation sheets.  All I can say is that Mary and I have a new respect for the craftsmanship and details that go into making and building a hive – and I am really glad we have a nail gun!

None the less, by weeks’ end, our entire beehive was assembled and ready to go!  We are going to apply a couple of coats of stain to the outside of the hive body to match the barn and we are ready for the bees….and of course, the honey!

Baby Chicks Head Into Week Four:

The chicks are starting to get their feathers
The chicks are starting to get their feathers

We are almost to the halfway point with raising our baby chicks in the brooder.  At 8 weeks, they will have completely feathered out and be ready to move into their permanent digs at the farm.  Weeks 3 and 4 are always filled with new achievements for the chicks.  All of them have begun to roost on the starter poles we put in the coop.  It’s hilarious to watch them jump up and learn the art of balancing.  It usually only takes a couple of falls before they get the hang of it.  They could easily be mistaken for little pigs – they have nearly quadrupled their daily intake of food and water, and so far – all 18 are getting along well.  Usually at around week 6 or so, they will start to establish more of a pecking order and have a few dominant hens put the other “ladies” in their place.

New Coop Progress:

Jazzy looked confused when we asked her if she wanted to live at the new coop to protect the hens :)  She would probably be more scared of the raccoons than the chickens...
Jazzy looked confused when we jokingly asked her if she wanted to live at the new coop to protect the hens. She would probably be more scared of the raccoons than the chickens 🙂

With only a little over 4 weeks to go – that means the new coop has to be finished soon! This past week – we worked on finishing up the foundation, so hopefully, with the forecast for sun and 50’s this week – we can get the coop walls installed.  I am really glad we pre-built the walls back in January – it will save a lot of time in finishing the project.  With the recent coop break-ins we have had with the raccoons – we are adding some extra security to the new coop.  A double layer of smaller 1 x 1 wire mesh will be used to fence in the coop run, and we will install it down into the soil a full foot and embed with concrete.  Hopefully, that will keep them safe and happy.  We should have some good pictures next week – hopefully of the coop mostly finished!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Safe Easter, and here is to Spring finally arriving!

– Jim and Mary

Raccoons, Hens and Bees (No Bunnies) – The Easter Sunday Farm Update
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