Tag Archives: Chickens

The Little Chore Train That Could

August was miserably hot, as it usually is here in Texas, but the chickens still had to have their wading pools and drinking buckets refilled with fresh water every day.  Of course we hadn’t thought about what would happen with me having carpal tunnel surgery and not being able to use my hand for a while.  Hubby was good and did chicken chores for a few days, but after that I was on my own and still couldn’t use my hand.  Leave it to my imaginative hubby to come up with something to help make one-handed chicken chores easier – The Chore Train.

The Chore Train

The Chore Train

Instead of having to fill numerous milk jugs and buckets with water (like I had been doing for what seems like forever), tote them outside to a utility cart, and then pull the cart by hand around the pasture, the Chore Train saves time and lets me haul heavy supply laden carts around the pasture more easily.

The train starts with our garden tractor/mower.  A water tank mounted on a cart comes next, with a utility cart making up the caboose.

The water cart isn’t just any old water reservoir.  A battery-powered bilge pump is attached to the water tank, allowing the water to run much faster through the hose and out to the chickens than simple gravity feed does.  I just hook the pump clamps to the battery terminals, and I’m in business.  A solar panel helps to recharge the battery.

The utility cart lets me haul frozen water bottles, feed, treats, and other supplies at the same time as the water.  Not having to make multiple trips to and from the house is a time saver and saves wear and tear on me, trying to haul heavy stuff around by hand.

(click the photos to see them closeup if you need a better look at how the pump assembly is put together so you can make your own)

Moral of the story:  Necessity is often the mother of invention.  Work smarter not harder.  If you’re still hand-carrying supplies to do your chicken chores with, consider making your own chore train to help decrease your workload a little.  A chore train like this is easy to put together and you can customize it to suit your needs.

I’ve been told that I have too much fun with my little train.  Have to admit, it IS kinda fun to drive around with it – kinda like riding those little kiddie trains that they have at carnivals and zoos.  I love my chore train, but I sure wish the hubby would have thought of this sooner!  🙂


Farewell Mighty Grasshopper Hunter

Amidst our busy summer, our pet rooster Stuart went over the Rainbow Bridge.  Stuart was one of our original Mottled Javas that I spent all day driving to get from the breeder (yes, Texas is really that big).  Stuart was named for the cute little mouse Stuart Little of Hollywood fame.

Stuart was a runt from the start, but very cute and affectionate – even without us spending a lot of time with him.  Stuart enjoyed people and wanted to be with us even more than he wanted to be with the other chickens.  Whenever the flock that Stuart lived with was allowed to free-range, Stuart would come running to find us anytime he heard us outside.  He could run out of the coop to meet us faster than we could get the people-door to the chicken run open.  Stuart was always underfoot and I did manage to step on him more than once, but that didn’t keep him from rubbing up against my legs while I refilled food and water containers.  Stuart LOVED chasing and eating grasshoppers more than any of the other chickens – earning him the title “Mighty Grasshopper Hunter” from his proud human father.

Our best guess is that Stuart was taken by a hawk, based on finding a feather trail (no blood or anything else) in a direction where a hawk could have swooped down from the oak tree by the pond, grabbed Stuart, and flown across the pasture (and because the dogs did not alert me that there was a coyote, which would have been the other predator we have here that could have carried a chicken away without leaving anything other than feathers).  Even though we knew that predators were a possibility (which is why the breeding stock is not allowed to free-range without supervision), we had not had any actual predator attacks until now.  And unfortunately our favorite chicken was the one sacrificed in our first predator attack.  Knowing Stuart, he was so busy chasing grasshoppers and clucking happily between the garden and the pond, he probably never even knew there was danger nearby.

So we say goodbye to Stuart.  Who would have thought that a runty, late-blooming chicken would have such a big personality and become one of the family?  We sure miss you Stuart!

STUART ROBINSON   March 26, 2012 – July 13, 2013

Vacuuming Grasshoppers

Anybody that has known us for a while, is generally aware that there is a grasshopper horde that plagues us every summer.  The grasshoppers are so thick that they jump up as we walk outside, and when they land, it sounds like rain.  While we do have some of the non-breeding Java chickens roaming in the garden for grasshopper control, we still have plenty of grasshoppers to spare.  And then some.  When walking outside and getting literally covered in grasshoppers, it is almost impossible not to think of various Bible stories involving locust plagues.

I was really getting frustrated with the windows on the back of the house being covered in so many grasshoppers that you could hardly see out.  GROSS!  While discussing the grasshopper plague, my friend Laurie up in Maine gave me an idea – get a shop vac and VACUUM THE GRASSHOPPERS and feed them to the chickens!

Upon mentioning this to the hubby, he dug around in the garage and found the small portable shop vac we have.  He promptly proceeded to the back of the house where the hoppers were congregating.  It took a bit to be able to get the rhythm down to sneak up on the hoppers and suck them up before they jumped away.  But he figured it out and was soon divesting our poor house of its obnoxious, annoying, disgusting, abhorrent hopper horde.

In the end, an estimated hundreds of grasshoppers were sucked up and then deposited into a chicken run.  At first, the chickens were really freaking out and didn’t know what to do with a huge pile of sluggish (dying) grasshoppers.  But after their initial alarm wore off – those chickens had a feast and went to bed that night with very full crops.

Moral of the story: If you find yourself with disgusting things like hordes of grasshoppers or maybe crickets, don’t underestimate the power of the lowly vacuum in your pest control plan!


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