Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chicken Shak

Welcome back to The Shak.

I have been busy with other things since I built the chicken's nest boxes. Today, I got around to building roosts. It was an easy though somewhat time consuming process.
The coop before I began work on the roost.
After collecting some scrap lumber from the barns, I cut two pieces of wood for the rear, longer legs. These I cut to the height of the bottom of the nest boxes. This puts the highest roost just above the level of the lower nest box openings.

I cut two other pieces for the front, shorter legs. The length of each was half the piece of wood I cut. They amounted to just over 10" each. It was not important to me that they be any specific length.

Then I cut two pieces with the appropriate angles on each end to connect one longer leg and one smaller leg. These I screwed together with biscuits I cut from pieces of scrap 1" x 4" pine boards. This gave me the two end pieces I needed to connect the roosts across.
One of two end pieces. Roost poles will be nailed to these.
I recycled the poles I used for the roosts from the old chicken coop on the opposite end of the same building that houses the new coop and rabbit cages. This building is over one hundred and twenty five years old. A wall of horizontal logs divides the old coop from the current coop and rabbit area. The problem with the old coop is that one corner of the building is pulling apart. The work it would have taken to repair the building and use the old coop was prohibitive.
You can see where the stone foundation eroded and the building shifted. The logs are pulling apart at the corner and the front is buckling. I welcome suggestions about fixing this. As you can see, this picture was taken even before I began fixing the fence.
I laid the roosts across the ends I built, nailing them together 10" apart. It is rare that I use nails. In this case I made an exception.
Legs and roost poles in place. I think the chickens would have been outside in the courtyard had I not been tearing up their coop. They are inquisitive creatures.
Having a standing structure, I wrapped the outside vertical walls with 16ga. 2" x 4" wire. I only chose this because I had enough lying around to complete the job. From underneath, I stapled chicken wire to the roosts. This done, the chickens will not be able to access the area below the roosts by any means.

Because the chickens will be roosting there, their droppings will collect on the floor below the roosts. I do not want them playing in or eating poop. Can't blame a guy for that.

I used chicken wire under the roosts in case they would happen to lay eggs on the roost. This will keep the eggs from dropping through to the ground and breaking while allowing poop to drop to the floor.
No sooner finished than used. Yet another success!
After positioning the roost, which can be moved for cleaning, I removed all bedding from the coop, spread new bedding, re-positioned the feeder and waterer and rehung the heat lamp to a few feet off the lower end of the roost. At this point, the chickens are probably fine without the lamp, but there is a freeze warning tonight and with all the changes I made to their environment today, I did not want to stress them.
With that, I cleaned up my messes and headed for the shower. Then I ate the ice cream and strawberries I had so been looking forward to.

Thanks for stopping. Come again soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What All This Is and I Am About

Shaktopia is my effort at self-sufficiency. It is a long road paved with the assistance of family and friends. What is self-sufficiency if one has no one with whom to share it? Who better to share with than the family and friends who share so much with me?

What led me to this? I had enough of making some inhumane corporation hundreds if not thousands of dollars for every dollar I got out of the deal. I had enough of living a double life. My inner life and my outer life did not match. They could not match while I was abusing some to benefit a few others and in-so-doing causing harm to all.

I do not know exactly how much money it takes for some to accept and operate on the precept, “if you’re not lying, you’re not trying.” I guess I never earned that much. Though, after hearing that expression on a near daily basis for years, if corporations were deserving of a mantra, that would be my choice.

I digress. The other point in all this is the vast improvement in my self which has occurred in almost a year since I walked off my “job”. I am my self now. My contradictions are gone.

I have told you very little. Let me add some background. I have a B.A. in Philosophy. Of course, I studied all the things I am actually interested in on my own time and since receiving that degree. Philosophy is a way of being. It is not a get rich quick scheme. If one equates richness with money, it is a never get rich scheme. One who lives so simple a life as mine, is enriched by the birth of a litter of rabbits, the growth of chickens, helping others to read and write and labor filled, stress free days and restful nights.

I am very fond of Ancient Greek culture, history, myth, language and some of the philosophy too. I do study the Ancient Greek language. I’d like to read the original Greek philosophers.

Once upon a time, I was fluent in German. Lack of use fixed that. Though I am sure if I had reason, it would all come back to me. I do still, from time to time, find myself thinking in German. It is still in there somewhere.

I am a big fan of Frederick Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and the so-called Existentialists of the European Continent. My favorite novel is The Count of Monte Cristo. Crime and Punishment is a close second.

I study tyrants and dictators.

If someone held a gun to my head demanding I chose a religion, I would pull the trigger myself. Depending upon my mood, I may choose Buddhism. The Dalai Lama would not hold a gun to anyone’s head; thereby, making the choice moot.  Though I am in no real hurry to be re-born. I do not remember sanctioning this go-round either.

I am a U.S. Army veteran; therefore, I believe America has some serious problems, not the least of which is its lacking a sense of history. For whatever reason, America acts as though there were no history prior to its own; and most of that is conveniently ignored as well. Everything it does is new, original, unprecedented…and always for the right reasons. America reacts like a narcissistic, prepubescent girl with Predator drones. And the Greeks thought the Persians were cowards for using bows and arrows!

I think America’s dysfunctional relationship with the Islamic world will end when America’s dysfunctional relationship with Israel ends. Just like two wrongs do not make a right, two dysfunctional relationships do not make one good relationship.

I would love to visit Greece, but from what I understand, being an American, I may not be so welcome. I cannot be sure, but that may have something to do with Predator drones. Have I ever done anything but appreciate Greece…with the possible exception of Plato?

I am even appreciative of their handling of the debt crisis. Their government cooked the books to gain membership into the EU. Now the Greek people strike and do the exact opposite of what the financiers (profiteers) of the global economy want them to do. I love it!

Politically, I think others should get control of themselves instead of trying to control others. I think democracy would be wonderful if it were anything but an idea. Anyone who runs for public office is suspect.

I teach Spanish speaking immigrants to read, write and speak English as a volunteer literacy tutor. With all the noise I hear from English speakers about Mexicans not speaking English, I’d think there would be a waiting list for tutees not tutors. But there are more Mexicans who want to learn English than English speakers who want to teach it. Like Sarah Palin, they shrill about faults but do not want the job of fixing them.

I am also a substitute teacher at a few area high schools. I always leave with a smile. Sometimes its incredulity. Mostly its pure entertainment. Yet, I’m always ready to go when my time is up. It is one of the more interesting “jobs” I have had.

Oh, I also breed rabbits, “Shak Rabbits,” for meat. One cannot cook "authentic" French or Italian food without the occasional rabbit. And there are the chickens in the “Chicken Shak”. They will be for eggs at first. Eventually, I will be breeding and raising them for meat also. “Shakstead” covers crops, yard, garden and whatever else I see fit to throw in there.

I invite you to follow along and comment if you wish. If you have questions or would like specifications and/or plans, insofar as I have them, for anything I post or would like to arrange purchase of what I have to sell when I have something to sell, let me know. Sometimes I am very tired by the time I get to blogging and do not give it the attention it may otherwise deserve. I’m having fun and getting things done…then I blog. 

Thanks for stopping,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Shak Rabbits

Welcome back to The Shak.

I hung the second row of cages. It was a pretty simple process. First, I bent wire into hooks. These hooks I hung through holes I drilled in the long ends of each L bracket. The hooks not only hold the cages below, but also secure the cages above from sliding off the brackets.

From each hook, four per cage, I hung a 20" piece of chain. I ran the chain through the inside corners of the hanging cages and secured if with wire under the cage bottom. If you recall my post on building the cages, I used a sturdier wire for the cage floors than sides or tops. It only makes sense to suspend the cages from their strongest points. These points are the corners of the floors.

With the cages hung, I added the feeders, waterers and rabbits. I removed all eight rabbits from the first litter from mother rabbits cage, putting four in each of two new cages. Their eating pellets and drinking from waterers indicates that mom is not as important as she once was.
Two rows of cages in place. Two cages furnished with feeders and waterers and each inhabited by four rabbits.
I put four in each cage so they could benefit by each other's warmth while at the same time reduce by more than half the number of mouths at each feeder and waterer. I then divided the thirteen rabbits from the second litter, giving the doe of the first litter six of the second does kits to raise. Now, one has six and the other seven kits. Much less of a workload on the second doe.
I also installed three 20" 20W fluorescent lights. Two of which can be seen here. 
I am still working out the details of the "plumbing" system between the rows of cages. That is soon to be completed. I cannot put rabbits in the top cages until I can keep their droppings and urine from getting on the rabbits in the cages below.

The first doe has a date scheduled with the buck tomorrow. She does not know it yet; however, twenty-eight or so days later, more kits. The buck has been waiting a long time for this. One might say it is what he lives for.

You may also have noticed I said eight rabbits not nine rabbits in the first litter. I culled the runt of the litter Saturday night. I found the poor little fella in a pile in the middle of the cage. Breathing, but apparently unable to muster the strength for anything else.

I weighed my options with regard to the little fur ball and decided it's time had come. I had not planned on killing so small a rabbit and it was no fun doing so. In the world of rabbit breeding, however, unlike that of homo sapiens, there is no moral concern with the timely elimination of the weak and nonviable. The only moral concern would be in keeping what should be dead and at peace alive and suffering. Hint, hint United States "medical/legal" industry.

Thanks for stopping. Come again soon.


Welcome back to The Shak.

Over the past week, I have been working on a variety of projects. The courtyard fence is complete. I have also been reclaiming some lawn and pruning apple trees. These last two are what I would like to show you in this post.

One day, I cut the tall grass in what amounts to a triangle between the rabbit/chicken barn, the big barn and the machine shed. Once upon a time, this had all been kept as lawn. Since that time, grass, weeds, red twig dogwood and rogue apple trees took over.
You get the idea.
I have yet to remove the bramble along the barn and silo.
I chose to try turning two rogue apple trees into producers. No one is quite sure how the apple trees got there. Birds are a good bet. But, shielded for years by tall grass, they grew. There was no sign of their ever having been pruned. Because there was so much to them, I thought it worth a shot to prune them.
The center tree is dead. The ladder is eight feet tall.
Now they look like apple trees should. Time will tell if my efforts draw any reward.
There is not much left; however,
 that which is now has a chance.
I also reclaimed about a quarter of an acre of lawn in the front yard. Between tree pruning, tree removal and cutting the tall grass, that is where I spent last Friday. I have no pictures of that to show you. I forgot to take before pictures. Now there is nothing to which to compare after pictures; so, I did not bother with either.

Thanks for stopping. Come again soon.