Friday, November 14, 2014

renovating the turkey townhouse

Sweetgrass tom enjoying the natural light in his turkey townhouse

I get absolutely giddy when we are able to reuse a structure on the property that has long gone unused and forgotten.

Like the cheep shed, which is now our primary winter housing for all of our chickens and rabbits. And occasionally also used for lambing jugs and shearing holding pens.

Sheep waiting to be shorn in the Cheep Shed

For the last two years we've housed our heritage breeding flock of turkeys in the cheep shed with our chickens.  But I wanted a new space for the turkeys this year.

Not because they don't get along with the chickens - they cohabited just fine last year.  The problem arises in the spring when the turkeys start to lay eggs.

Although I provided several large plastic dog kennels as nest boxes for the turkeys, they preferred to use the chicken nest boxes.

Jenny our Blue Slate turkey hen using the chicken nest boxes

This seemed dangerous to me, as they sometimes got stuck, and sometimes more than one hen tried to share a box together!

They also ended up breaking quite a few eggs in the process.


So this year I wanted a separate place for my turkeys.

There was this very old, old chicken coop on the property, a building the former owners had used before they built the cheep shed.

turkey townhouse before renovation
The glass windows were long gone and the screen windows were falling off.

gaping window on the turkey townhouse

Last spring a mama skunk had burrowed underneath it and given birth.

It had quite a bit of junk inside of it and weeds over the rooftop on the outside.

old nest boxes inside the turkey townhouse

junk and a trunk in the turkey townhouse

The sills were rotting and there were holes in the walls and roof.

rotting window sills on the turkey townhouse

The door had fallen off its hinges, allowing easy access for raccoons (and sometimes my laying hens).

views of the turkey townhouse before renovations

coming unhinged

pullet eggs amidst the junk in the turkey townhouse

But I only saw the potential.  I knew it could work, especially given my hubby's skills with a saw and screwdriver.

Papa Bear renovates the turkey townhouse while Gypsy looks on

Papa Bear working on the turkey townhouse

So while I worked on mucking out the cheep shed, I left Papa Bear to fix the townhouse.

mucking out the cheep shed

As expected, Papa did a smashing job on the renovation, including building the turkeys a roost and installing polycarbonate greenhouse windows which let in some of the sun's heat while blocking the winter winds.

Of course there was the usual supervision from Gypsy and Karma.

Gypsy's "please play fetch" eyes are nearly irrisistable

Karma checks out progress on the turkey townhouse

Then, before we had quite finished, Winter blew in with a vengeance, with temps below freezing day and night, the past few days suffering wind chills below zero.

winter arrives but the turkey townhouse is nearly complete

Normally we wait until the end of November to take our critters off the fields, but there was no time to delay this year.


So last Friday afternoon as the light waned I found myself out in the lower hayfield herding our small group of Sweetgrass turkeys into a catch pen and loading them up in a kennel in the ATV trailer, hauling them up to their new home.

Sweetgrass hen roosts in the turkey townhouse

It may not be the Ritz Carlton, but compare to the wide open spaces and bitter winds of the hayfield, I'd say it's downright cozy inside.

Cheers -
Gypsy Farmgirl shows her turkey townhouse renovation


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