Day 24: What I learned the hard way

Day 24 and What I learned the hard way

There is one specific thing that I learned the hard way and that is to have paid attention to winds direction. When we lived in the city and did not have any animals outside, the weatherman talking about winds reaching a certain speed and coming from certain directions meant very little to me. It meant that there will be a cool breeze in the summer time or windy and colder in the winter time.

When we were looking around to buy our country home, my uncle said this house has a great design and facing south only means you get a lot of light and warmth in the winter. Very true! When the sun is shining, our living room becomes very tropical even in the dead of winter.

After we moved in, we started planning the outline of our brand new backyard. We wanted a veggie garden, an area for dog enclosure and an area for chicken run with a coop. We started with the dog enclosure and dog house, as they were arriving first. Then we added a second fenced in area, adjacent to their enclosure, for the chicken area. The first coop was built pretty much in the middle of the whole big area, how we saw fit at the time: door access from dog’s side, slanted roof for easy draining and snow melting, nest boxes towards the outside for easy access. A gate was also added to go from the dogs’ side to the chicken side. Before winter rolled around, we built a second coop, at the side of the first one, with the coop door facing away, to the East.

Then first winter came. And we learned a very valuable lesson!

Winds blow parallel to the contour lines.

And there’s a whole scientific explanation for that, but in plain English, in the Northern Hemisphere, winds blow highest from North and West.

Both coops had the roofs slanted South – we thought the snow would melt quicker that way and won’t cause too much weight to be put on the roof. The design of a well ventilated coop called for openings of about 5-6 inches at the top to let hot air out (along with any smells). We had to cover the sides facing N and W, as snow was going inside (snow gets in and on the chickens, it melts and freezes over their combs and wattles and you have a bad case of frostbite!). Then the door was facing N as well… More than once I had to walk out with hot water to throw on the locks so I could go inside. We overlooked Mother Nature all together on this project! We aimed for easy access, good design, and comfort for chickens, but totally neglected the environmental changes throughout the year.

The first picture above is from the fall and the second one from this winter. In the second picture you can see the blue tarp over the side of the second coop. We constructed a “second” roof and covered it to provide a snow-free area for the chickens to come out AND to help with the winds not blowing inside from the N (the first coop helps with the winds from the W). There’s poly on both sides of the tarped roof to block the winds during the day when the chickens are outside. I know it doesn’t look the best, but it worked for now.

Mr King and a couple of his ladies

Last year, sometime, Mitchell and I watched a documentary about a man building an apple orchard. At one point he mentioned that when he first moved to the new property, he waited through the four seasons and documented changes that would happen throughout the months, beyond the obvious facts. Where does the sun rise, its trajectory over the property, winds direction, does rain collect in any spots on the land, does it drain quickly, does snow drift across the field, etc.

Armed with all this knowledge, and this little trial and error project, we are hopeful that we will do much better at the next place. I am sure there will be other obstacles arising, but as the saying goes we live and we learn!

 

// click the picture to view 30 Days Challenge post //

// click the picture to view 30 Days Challenge post //

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