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Chickens at Pebblespring Farm

 
Timothy Hewitt-Coleman
Posts: 137
Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa (34 degrees south)
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7 September 2014

I am not entirely sure that I am ready to move the chickens to the farm, but its done, I moved them today on the back of a hired trailer, with a whole lot of potted trees from my hothouse which I am busy dismantling. All but the one hen that is broody and sitting on eggs.


I am sure I could have built a better shelter for them. In fact I have a much better one planned, drawings and everything, but like with so much in my life, this is what I am able to do now, with the time and resource that I have. I console myself by saying it is a temporary solution. But I say this as I look around my study on the Sunday evening with all many of the temporary shelves, piles of books, heaps of tools un-carpeted floors and skew hung posters, which were all "temporary " solutions.

How much too in my business is the result of pragmatic thinking. "This is the best that we can do, let it out the door, or run the risk of missing the deadline".* But is it not in this way that my life becomes a sequence of compromises. Is it not in this way that I miss on the opportunity to do great work, lovely chicken sheds, great articles, beautiful buildings? But perhaps its better this way. Rather a life of compromises than a life of waiting for the time to be right. Waiting for the movement to strike. But never taking action, Never doing stuff, because the circumstance is just not right. I don't know!

But I do know that we have 5 fowl in the new pen. One hen got out when I was moving them out of the transport cage. I hope we can somehow get it back. I will ask Mandoza if he can think of a way to catch it tomorrow. The danger of course is that unknown predators roaming the farm kill all the chickens tonight. I have not yet taken the time to make the shelter "dig under proof".

I will keep you posted. Lets see how it goes tonight.

* In a way too, this blog is a battle between getting something out and getting something right. I would like the blog to have more meaningful articles. I would like there to be thorough videos explaining some of the things we do. I would like the photograph to be of better quality. But I suppose if I waited for all those things to happen, I would never put a blog out at all!

update - 8 9 14


Chickens all still alive this morning and I managed to catch the one that got out. (I popped into the farm on the way back from a meeting nearby.

update 11 9 14

Added a nest box this afternoon.


A simple design of 300 X 300 boards cut from a 19 mm Shutterboard sheet. A little plank across the front to keep the eggs and nesting material in. Then simply screwed into the side wall of the chicken tractor.

The chickens seem happy. The peck at the grass all the time and scratch in it. Mandoza is moving them to new grass every day. So far so good. No predator attacks. I put a bunch of Bluegum leaves in for them to nest in. I heard somewhere that Bluegum leaves are some sort of natural bug repellent.

We'll see!

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Timothy Hewitt-Coleman
Posts: 137
Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa (34 degrees south)
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Its not that I expected it to happen, but I am not surprised. Two chickens were taken last night, probably something as small as a mongoose. It must have slipped under the frame of the chicken tractor. We have re-enforced the pen now, by adding a trim of chicken wire that I believe a mongoose may not be clever enough to dig under.


I suppose the other way to have gone about this would have been to have built an absolutely impenetrable concrete and brickwork fortress for the chickens. Something that would have taken a year and something that could withstand any attack including hurricane and leopard. But I don't think that's the approach that I care to take. What I am trying to get right at the farm is efficiency in design. The question I continuously ask myself is: What is the appropriate response?

I suppose this is what I am trying to get right in my life. Because I can be cautious but it may stop me ever setting a foot out the door. Or I could be reckless and risk hurting those that depend on me. Too much caution is bad. Too much recklessness it bad. But what I am doing with the chickens and what I am doing on the farm generally, is observing. Taking and action and observing the response of the farm.

Through the action of introducing the chicken tractor, I have been able to observe that I have a mongoose challenge. I can now prepare a measured, sensible response to the mongoose challenge. I can respond with design. The kind of design that does not destroy habitat. The kind of design that is the gentlest possible intervention to address the challenge.

Do you see how this is different to the approach of conventional agriculture, conventional medicine or conventional city building.? In conventional agriculture where we find we have insect challenge we introduce insecticides and destroy all insects, good bad or indifferent. We do not take the time to observe and develop a measured response. In medicine we respond to microbial infections with antibiotics. We do not take the time to observe. We annihilate all bacteria, good bad or indifferent. In city building we act against variety, where one noisy business upsets one complaining resident, we abolish all mixed use suburbs and replace them with a monoculture of residential, a monoculture of offices and a monoculture of factories. We act in this way perhaps because we are afraid of things going wrong. We are afraid to make mistakes. We are afraid perhaps of the ridicule or the mockery, So we become cautious. We make very safe decisions that cant possibly go wrong. We get life cover, medial aid and short term insurance. We get cars with a "motor plan".We get safe jobs that promise a pension to look after us so we don't embarrass ourselves by being a burden by making the mistake of running out of money before we die.

But of course in all this cautiousness our dreams are postponed and the richness of what could have been our lives becomes displaced with a life of slavery to those that offer the promise of comfort and security. This life my friends, is not for me. And yes there will be some blood and guts along this path.

But this is the path that I am committed to walk.
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