Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Operation Coop-eration

With the chicks growing like weeds, I have been scrambling to get them a bigger home. While the galvanized metal tub was great for all of five days, it was only meant as a temporary holding place. The cheapest option is to make a brooder out of cardboard boxes that you can adjust as they grow, but with it set up in my swamp of a basement, I didn't think that was a good idea. I searched everywhere for those rigid plastic pools from my childhood that would be both wide and deep enough -- and waterproof -- but, alas, those don't arrive in stores until Easter, if at all. (I guess that's what I get for not going along with cliches and ordering 'winter chicks' instead of 'spring chicks.') Apparently, the child's pool industry is full of only deflatable plastic these days, not so good against incessantly pecking beaks. I could also have started researching water garden tubs, but honestly, I got tired...and did nothing instead. The ladies don't seem to mind; they cuddle up like cats.

So, I've focused on a bigger and more permanent solution. 

Fortunately, we have a coop that came with the property. Unfortunately, years of decay have rendered it practically useless except as a storage shed for garden tools and a safe haven for our groundhog, Phil, and other critters that burrow under the foundation and climb up through the floor boards. Windows are broken, lead paint is flaking, locks are rusting by the second...but one can only start at the beginning.

In a moment (er, entire weekend) of clarity, I began organizing and didn't stop for two days. Always cognizant of my responsibility to be environmentally friendly, I learned I had saved every cardboard box and plastic plant container I had ever come across. (I have been using cardboard to kill grass, such as between the rows in my vegetable garden, and I highly recommend this method, yet did I need enough to cover the entirety of the county?) I loaded them up in the truck to be dropped off at the recycling center.

The plastic containers I had saved for revulsion of adding them to a landfill along with delusions of growing my own plants in them someday. The director of the local extension office told me to look on the bottom of the containers for recycle numbers and add them to our curbside pickup. I called my county's waste company to verify, not wanting to contaminate the recycling stream if it didn't participate, and the lady who answered said that was a negative. If I get ambitious again this spring, I may sort and try to return them to their place of purchase. Otherwise, they may just rest outside, inadvertently growing plants -- weeds from seeds that fall out of the sky.

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