Guest Post: Dan (part 3)

Getting Started

Well this past week or so it seems we’ve had rainy days more than sunny days and this week is no different.  I did manage to build the structure for the chicken’s playpen in between having to cut the grass and getting our garden ready for spring planting.

I’ve also learned how to fix splayed legs for baby chicks just in case I come across that problem in the future thanks to Julie.  I’ve also seen photos of her new baby chicks and it just isn’t fair for her to put them there to make me want to start being a midwife and nanny from the get go.

Thankfully I do not have the acreage to have sheep or else I’d want to add them also.  Though I’m still considering goats as an alternative.  Just need to keep focused on finishing the set up for the chickens.  Below is a photo of our neighbors in the field next door.

We are thinking of making a permanent roof for the chicken yard instead of using netting or more chicken wire.  As for the foxes I read somewhere that it’s easier to just lay welded fencing on the ground inside the yard and cover it with dirt than to dig a ditch around the perimeter and extend the fencing down.

I read that chickens like to take dirt baths and haven’t figured how that works in a very heavy clay soil that doesn’t create any dust.  All I can imagine is having a bunch of chickens with red stained feathers.

I also need to fix some kind of overhang on the shed’s windows so it doesn’t rain inside so I can keep them open in the summer.

I have one question though.  It seems you can’t buy a bundle of hay around here without finding hay mold inside the bale.  Will the mold hurt the chickens?

Also, my Kindle blew up this week and I’m devastated.  I read constantly and feel lost without it.

Last spring we built ourselves a Koi Pond.  The depth is 40 inches the middle ½ of the pond with shelves about 24 inches deep at each end to allow us to place potted plants on.  The plants you see in the photo grow to about 4 to 5 feet in height and fill in each end of the pond.    We love to go out in the morning before the sun gets up and drink our coffee.  As the sun comes up and the lights around the pond perimeter go out we then feed the fish and go inside.

We have 3 Koi in the pond named, Life, Liberty and Happiness.  (My wife Beth named the fish.)  We also have 2-3 frogs that have taken up residence inside the pond and we can hear them croaking at night outside the bedroom window.

Well that’s all for this past week and unless we get a break in the weather about all we will get done this week it seems.  Your house bound chicken farmer.


Dan Shaw is a guest contributor to WoolyAcres and has a fun site where you can download tons of free ebook cookbooks and some children’s books as well at

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16 Responses to Guest Post: Dan (part 3)

  1. Julie Helms says:

    Hi Dan,
    Those baby cows are adorable, almost tempting, but no my cup is full!
    Some thoughts on your ponderings. You could build a little sandbox in the corner of your coop for happy dirt bathing. They will burrow in sandy dirt, mulch, dry leaves. The clay soil will be difficult for them. Mine all prefer the nicely cultivated garden soil around the house.
    Watch the mold on the hay. Chickens are susceptible to respiratory ailments. Why do you need hay for them? A bale of cheap straw should do the trick for nesting boxes.
    It looks like your plans are coming along fabulously!


  2. Glory Lennon says:

    You’ve done pretty-darn good there! Those calves however, don’t seem to approve. Love the Koi pond!

  3. Cylly says:

    Trish would recommend diatomaceous earth aded to sand in a large tire (or several regular-sized tires) for dusting. She can’t access the web for a couple days but I know that’s what she’d say! I know cuz she recommended it to me when I set up a chicken pen on my lawn.

    Happy building!

    BTW you have very cute neighbors!

  4. Julie Helms says:

    OOOoooh, and diatomaceous earth would kill any leg mite critters at the same time. VERY clever!

  5. Laura says:

    Make sure you get the diatomaceous earth meant for critter control not the stuff they use in swimming pool filters. It’s a mechanical insecticide not a chemical one. It works by poking holes in the critter shells and absorbing the liquid out of them. The swimming pool stuff is not sharp or so I’ve been told. Maybe it’s processed differently?

  6. Laura says:

    Your koi might be happier with hiding spots like water lilies throughout the pond. Most fish like to have somewhere safe to go. As you know they are very responsive at pets and will come up to the surface and above to get fed when they recognize your voice or step so you will still see them.

  7. Glory Lennon says:

    I’m sure it’s refined for pool usage, Laura, which defeats the purpose, in my estimation.

  8. Dan says:

    Thanks for all the tips. We did have a few lily pads in the pond but this past winter they where all frozen in about 4 inches of ice and died. The fish never seemed to go near them though. The two oldest ones do feed out of our hands. Our dog Termite is very protective of them. Hopefully she will be that way with the chickens. She shows no interest in the wild birds that hop around her on the front deck eating the seeds that have fallen from the feeder.

  9. Glory Lennon says:

    Dan, I have a pond overflowing with waterlilies. If you want some, just ask.

  10. Laura says:

    Dan, I think you are building an amazing place that is full of wonderful things to enjoy. Didn’t mean to come across telling you what to do. I just get so excited at all the neat things you have working.

    You may not have had hardy lilies – the tropical ones are fancier but you get to replace them every year. There are lovely hardy ones though. These days we are overrun with the little mini-ones with yellow blossoms that are called floating hearts, and some water celery that is trying to take over the back yard. We are very wild looking, but right now this small pond is populated only with green frogs. The egret kept coming and eating the goldfish.

  11. Glory Lennon says:

    I wonder Laura, those yellow ones you speak of, Floating hearts, you called them, would those be Trollium which look a bit like small, unopened tulips? I would love some of those! And what in the world is a water celery? never heard of that!

    If you want to see how over crowded my waterlilies are go here:

  12. Dan says:

    OK, I’m stupid. My unfarmerness will come to the forefront. We don’t have hay, we have bales of straw and it has straw mold in the center of ever bale I’ve ever gotten.
    It doesn’t harm plants and still unsure of hurting chickens. Once the bales are opened and it exposed to air and heat it seems to just disappear or go away. If it may be harmful what is a good alternative for their roosts?

  13. Julie Helms says:

    If you air it out well in the heat/sun, it probably will be okay, though I am not familiar with mold in straw (though very familiar with mildew in hay).

    You could always use wool for the nesting boxes….if only you had sheep!!!!

    Woodchips/sawdust that are safe for animals would work too. Make sure they are animal safe-some woods kill animals.

  14. Laura says:

    @ Glory – sorry, didn’t see your post right until now. The yellow water lily you are talking about sounds like what we used to call cow lilies – they grow wild in the lake where we summered growing up. They are also called spatterdock. (Nuphar polysepala.) They are considered very beneficial and many wild critters eat them.

    What I have is Yellow Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata). I bought mine from Lilypons in MD some years ago. Turns out it is a non-native invasive plant, at least in Washington State:
    Yellow floating heart is a perennial, water lily-like plant that carpets the water surface with long-stalked heart-shaped leaves. The showy five-petaled yellow flowers occur on long stalks and rise a few inches above the water. Yellow floating heart is a native of Eurasia and the Mediterranean area as well as Japan, China, and India and has been introduced into Washington, particularly along the Spokane River near Spokane. We speculate that nurseries sold yellow floating heart as an ornamental water plant because of its attractive yellow flowers and floating leaves. The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board listed yellow floating heart as a Class B noxious weed in 2001. The Washington Department of Agriculture prohibits its sale, trade, and transport in Washington.

    Water Celery (Oenanthe javanica) looks like celery but isn’t. I’d used it previously in koi ponds and it stayed well trimmed by them. In my current pond, inhabited chiefly by green frogs and snails, you have to stand back to avoid having it run over you. It grows right up out of the water into the garden. It’s excellent as a filter plant since there are plenty of places for the bacteria to grow and prosper.

  15. Glory Lennon says:

    Thanks for all the info, Laura. I’ll have to read up on them before I stick them into my pond. It’s a smallish pond and already overflowing with water lilies. I’ll have to buy some hip-waders to get in there and cut back what I already have! 🙂

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