Monday, October 10, 2011

New Chicken Coop, Construction Covers Most School Subjects; an Exercise in Stealth Schooling

We purchased four Cochin pullets at a poultry swap meet at the beginning of the month, and over the weekend we built them a coop. I think we managed to cover pretty much all the usual school subjects in the process!
We've been scrounging lumber and building supplies for a while; the fetching and carrying is good exercise (P.E.) and the kids asking for leftovers from various projects around the neighborhood is good public speaking practice (oral grammar and composition).
We had to figure out where in the yard to put the coop. It had to be a location not exposed to much direct sun or harsh weather, but also had to allow for good ventilation and the door had to face in a direction that allowed us access for cleaning, collecting future eggs, and letting out/locking up the chickens as necessary. (Geography, weather science)
Building the coop itself entailed math (measuring length of boards, checking for square corners and plumb walls, and level floor), vocabulary (names of tools, building supplies and hardware and different kinds of lumber), spelling (shopping list for a very few un-scroungeable items), penmanship (writing the actual list), social studies (educating passersby about what we were doing and why we keep chickens), science (life cycle of hens, how to tell when they are close to laying age, what their needs are as to food, water and a nesting spot, the fact that roosters are unnecessary for egg production).

This seems like a good place to introduce you readers to chicken math. Regular math says that we have 8 chickens; four in the original coop and four in the new one. BUT one of the older hens no longer lays, so she doesn't count. That makes 7. The other older hen lays irregularly, so she only counts as half a chicken. Total is now 6 1/2. Then the four pullets aren't laying yet, so they don't count either. This means that by using chicken math, we only have 2 1/2 chickens!

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