Amy and I worked on the gate last night after work. It is a very simple frame that is supported by fence paling, made with materials that were off-cuts that were either given to me or scrounged. I fitted it tonight just after work. It was a bit of a pain, because the gate was square, however the frame was not. The right hand post was on a little bit of a lean, so I had to improvise and pack up the top right and bottom left a little. It opens fine and the catch is not too tight.
After Amy and I finished hanging it, the entire family sat and stared at it for a while. I sat and appreciated the hard work for just a little bit longer than everyone else, and Kim then came out with a glass of wine to celebrate the occasion! What a lovely soul mate I have in Kim.
It was about this time we discovered something that I might have overlooked. As chickens are not that tall (funny about that), and there are slats on the bottom of the door, we are going to be hard pressed to see them from where we like to sit on the garden bed wall. In my haste of following Kim's design, I didn't think about this very much. I looks like we will have to watch them from the other side, under the veranda. Oh well, when they get used to free ranging around the garden, there won't be much of an issue!
Also today at lunchtime, Amy and I ducked off to Melton Produce, which is next to the railway station. I had never been in the big shed, but I was pleasantly surprised when I did. They had so many different types of chicken feed, from hormone and antibiotic laden laying pellets, to organic feed. Well, naturally I bought the organic feed, and at $31 for a 30kg bag of Lauke Red Hen feed mix, I think is a great buy. Being the same company that makes the bread mix we bake, we can't go too wrong. I also bought a water bowl and feeder that hang down from the roof struts. I paid a total of $43 for them both, which I thought was a bargain. Kim found some similar on eBay for over $60 which included delivery. Kim suggested using some light chain to hang them with. That way we can have a hook at the top and bottom for easy removal and will withstand a bit of wind. I thought that a light wire may be strong enough, but with about 5kg in each, it may be best to get a couple of lengths of chain from the hardware shop.
Buying local has cut down in delivery costs and keeps these nice gents in business. May I just state for the record that the bloke that served me was so friendly and helped answer all my questions without any bad vibes. He even gave me the details of the Secretary of the Bacchus Marsh & Melton Poultry Club Inc.
I gave Joan (the Secretary) a call and left a message. Around dinner time she replied and gave me some good advice regarding backyard breeds. She confirmed my research about ISA Brown hens, and I have decided to go for this breed first off. I can get them locally and don't have to wait another 3 months for delivery. I gave the contact that Joan gave me a call after my dinner, and organised four 16 week old hens that had been organically raised from Sue, a breeder in Gisborne, which is about 20km away. Pending the completion of the chook house over the next few nights, and with Adams help on Saturday morning, I should be ready by Saturday afternoon to pick up the girls. This will give them about 6 weeks to acclimatise before they reach point of lay. It will be a learning experience for us all including the chooks.
We are all so excited. If it all goes to plan, I better give Deb a call at Book a Chook and cancel my order. A shame that Book a Chook is not local, because those Pekin Bantams look so cute!