Saturday, January 31, 2015

Matters of Privacy

Not everyone lets "it all hang out".

Take my ducks, for example: they have never had nesting boxes since we brought them home until about three weeks ago. Then suddenly I found an egg in their coop and felt that they were finally ready for boxes.

But birds do not like change. They thrive on routine and they show their appreciation and comfort with routine by producing eggs and growing at steady, healthy rates. As in a previous post, I found I has unknowingly been underfeeding them which resulted in a stark dearth of eggs. I took immediate action and soon had quick results.
But with the ducks, they did not take well to the addition of their laying boxes. Whether it was me checking their coop every day or simply because I had changed things around, they weren't happy with me. For two weeks I had no signs of eggs but paid VERY close attention to their food resources, as per lessons already learned. Then today I found a large, beautiful duck egg in a nesting box!

So now that my ladies are comfortable with their nesting boxes, I'm going to implement another change and give them a bit of privacy. I've read in so many places that birds really need privacy when they lay, and anytime I walk in on a hen who is right in the middle of nesting, her sounds make it quite clear that I'm not welcome yet. What I plan to do today is to make a trial-run nesting bucket for my ducks--for FREE!!!

That's right, free! Here is a quick list of materials:
  • sturdy bucket with tight-fitting lid
  • permanent marker
  • straightedge of some sort
  • drill with med. sized drill bit
  • metal putty knife
  • torch
  • safety gloves (not pictured--Bad Betty, bad!)
  • 2 bricks
  • generous handful of straw

    Now, keep in kind that these materials are free to me because we've been collecting a lot of junk to get our farm started. I imagine if you don't have access to them, it would only cost a couple of bucks to get some 5-gallon Home Depot buckets (which will last you forever). the idea here is to be creative with what you do have and avoid spending money as much as you can. Here is a link that I took a lot of inspiration from. These folks are awesome resources and very helpful!
    1. What I did first was gather my materials.
    2. Next, I drew a cut out line on the lid that would allow my biggest duck to climb in and out comfortably without all the straw (or eggs) spilling out.
    3. In the furthest corners, drill a hole. This will make the edges come together easier and the center will pop right out when you've finished.
    4. Hold your metal putty knife to the torch flame for about 20 seconds. In slow, precise movements, touch the hot knife to your line straight down and apply some pressure. If your blade is hot enough, it will cut right through without too much effort. Do this all the way around your line. When I cut the lid, I put the blade in at a 45* angle and slid it across. Be safe!!
    5. With the lid off and carefully in your (gloved) hand, take your torch to the inside edges of the lid hole to take away any sharp edges. This step is not really necessary, but I know I will regret it later if I don't.
    6. Place bricks in the coop area right where you want the bucket to sit. I moved them forward a bit to rest just under the collar of the bucket so the bird will nest cozily in the back.
    7. Toss some straw in there (and a decoy egg if you have one). Mother nature should take over from here!
    One on each side
    Drill hole

    Heat knife
    Cut carefully

    Lid is finished
    Last steps

    Add bricks

    If this works, I want to create a nice little storage shelf in both coops for a line of nesting buckets.
    Do you have any other ideas? What has worked for you? Can you help me improve on this plan?

    Have a Blessed Day!
    Betty Crockett

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