We have twelve chickens and I have tried many things over the years. Using a rotating litter method is what works for us. We have snow in the winter, and average days of rain. We have humidity in the summer and we live in a wooded area. The run is covered but open on all sides.One of the first things that you try and educate yourself about when you keep chickens is waste management. As with keeping any animal, it is important to properly manage their waste to keep your animals healthy, prevent disease, prevent rodents, eliminate odor, prevent flies and so forth. Over the years, I’ve had many people ask what techniques I use in my chicken coop. This topic always seems to be a source of great debate. So, here is what I do.
October 20, 2010
My daughter and I cleaning out the coop
We are away this week in the Carribean celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week’s photos. I can’t wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.
Did you ever just have one of those days where all of your best laid plans run amuck? Today was one of those days. My plans were like a well oiled machine. I had so much to do. Somehow, everything got derailed, schedules were changed and I even had to call in favors from family members. We got take-out for dinner. I had admitted defeat. I needed a break from life. I even felt like the chickens were neglected all day as I dealt with the plumber and painter putting the finishing touches on our home that was damaged by a leaking pipe. Life just had to get better today.
After dinner, I decided to clean out the coop and run while our daughter visited with the girls. It was overdue for a good cleaning and the wonderful excess compost that that girls created needed to be removed from the run. We began our work. My four year old helper was my assistant. After a few minutes of this unenjoyable undertaking I felt my day begin to melt away from my mind.
Maybe it was the chickens knocking on the closed coop door as if to say, “Are you done yet?’ Maybe it was all of their chatter and my daughter’s giggles as she treated them to scratch. Maybe it was that things were finally drying out after three days of relentless rain. Maybe it was that the sun was setting and the day was almost over. Perhaps, it was a culmination of all of these. Even for me, it’s hard to believe that a little “chicken therapy” was all that it took to suddenly make my day sunny.
On a side note, as I was crawling around in the coop, Oyster Cracker first tried to steal my earrings then took a leap of faith onto my back. She scared the heck out of me! Maybe she was just trying to put things into perspective. Maybe I should worry more about a chicken jumping on my back, than the cost of the 5 hour plumbing bill.
Believe it or not, Meesha and Autumn are still broody. Many a day now, I go into the nesting boxes and find them sitting together. I am not sure if they will ever snap out of it! I guess there is nothing like having a good friend to get you through these times. I am sure they sit together in the box and discuss their dreams and aspirations.
This morning, I needed to clean out their favorite nesting box. Over the course of the week, it has become very matted and littered with spare feathers and dirt. The good news was that everyone was out in the run this morning enjoying scratch. As I returned to the coop with my bucket and gloves, in came Meesha. I placed the wooden piece that runs across the bottom of the nesting boxes up in the air at an angle across the boxes to keep the chickens out. Meesha was not happy. Quickly she stormed out of the coop. She immediately returned with Autumn to evaluate the situation. Timidly they inspected my work. I heard them talking. They must have concluded, “This doesn’t look good.” They left.
I continued to clean the box. Suddenly, as I looked up, Meesha and Autumn returned with Chocolate, our rooster. He immediately, unafraid, came closer to investigate. He had a fury in his eyes. Who was keeping his broody girls from entering their boxes? Luckily, I had the wooden piece barricading him out of the boxes. Otherwise, I would have been his next victim. Finally, I was done. I waited until the girls and Chocolate exited. I returned the wooden piece and latched the nesting boxes closed.
I’m curious what the girls said to Chocolate in the run. Whatever they did say, it was enough to make him protect his girls, investigate and “take care” of the nesting box invader. I’m sure they are not happy that I took away their old nest. One thing is for sure. Chocolate is a great rooster and does his job well. If only I could talk to him about convincing his Silkie girls to end their broody insanity and lay some tiny eggs for Easter.
|Nice and Clean|
Today after yesterday’s snow, I could not wait to get out and do a little cleaning. I originally planned to just clean the interior of the coop. However, as I began, I decided to clean the whole entire thing! I let the original flock out to free-range. I locked Meesha and Autumn in the run and started with the coop. It is usually a rather quick job taking about 15 minutes. However, today was different, I had to contend with Chocolate.
Yesterday we had a very soggy, windy and rainy morning. Knowing that we were expecting the turn in weather, I really wanted to clean that coop out. So the day before yesterday, it was on my to-do list.