I still feel that we just started our journey despite this being our third monsoon on the farm. So many unexpected issues have come up in our search for financial sustainability. We have changed direction more than once and I believe we will change direction yet again.

Our hens have been one of the positive experiences in the last six months.  From just a pair in January the numbers now have gone beyond 35, thanks to the attention & care given to them by my co-worker: Vimal. More & more eggs are being laid & more and more chicks are born. A few weeks back one hen laid 10 eggs & one fine day all the 10 chicks came marching out, then another laid 6. Even in the rains where survival of chicks can be a bit dicey, we’ve managed well. Plus the mother hens have been able to hoodwink the Kestrels & the Black shouldered kites.  Now our shack is getting too crowded, especially in the night when all the birds come in. They & their baskets occupy almost one half of the house, and with another corner designated for cooking, Prakash & Vimal are left with just a corner to keep their things & also use as their sleeping area. The dogs, our cow & me are in the verandah !

We need to work out a proper enclosure for the hens, a good design. Maybe something like a fish pond below & a nice thatched house, with a bamboo stairway for the hens to go in the night.  By next month we also need to design & make at least 5 chicken tractors so that they remain in a confined space during the day but have space outside to run around. At the moment because of the rains we have dismantled our chicken tractors & the hens also remain in & around the house.

Recently while in Shivaji market, Camp I saw some Guinea fowls being sold in a chicken shop. The going price was Rs 400/-  & when I asked about turkeys I was told the price would be more than Rs 600/-. I am really tempted to breed them. Also add in some ducks……. they can be doing their quack, quack in the river.

So hens, guinea fowls, turkeys, ducks & some fresh water fish…… The question for me is how does one make proper night enclosures for all of them, where all of them can be together, yet seperate ?

Also, recently we sold a couple of chickens in the village & now almost every day some one is coming & asking us for more. Partner has been telling me to inform the residents of our housing society in Pune about the availability of free range chicken. For that to happen we need to create a hygienic space for cleaning the birds, plus we need to figure out how to keep the meat fresh during the two & a half hour journey from the farm to Pune.

Another thought that comes is vis-a-vis Magic, our caravan hound, what will we do when he gets a mate & when they start having a litter ? What kind of enclosure will we make for the doggie family ? Plus how do we fence our seven acres, so that they don’t go & kill our neighbour’s goats ?

Instead of spreading unplanned structures all over Seven Acres…. we need to get back to our drawing boards yet again.

Yes…. the journey has only begun !!

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