Saturday was a day devoted to chickens. I went up at 6AM to start the outside work as it was supposed to get really warm in the afternoon. It’s odd to go to the barn in summer and find the door shut. But the bear…..
The work: top L clean coop; R clean roosts; bottom L dusting area; R window
Normally we stop deep bedding in April. But it was so cool in May we continued it. It needed to be removed for the summer. I also sand down the roosts twice a year to clean them and to remove the manure. The dusting area needed raked out and revitalized. And I needed to clean and open the window for the summer.
I did the window first, as it was the hardest, trying to get the inside clean so light could get through. Propping it open was easy, but I did notice the caulking is deteriorating and we will have to take it down and re-caulk it this summer.
Next I raked out the dusting area and spread diatomaceous earth and leached wood ashes in there. Then I spread them both in the other dusting areas in the pen.
I checked the leaves level in the rest of the pen. For the first of June we aren’t doing too badly, considering we could get no leaves last fall.
I moved inside and started sanding the roosts and ladder. The bottom roost is always the worst. I have a small hand sander and use the red 50 grit paper. I eventually used that up and found some yellow 50 grit paper we’d gotten somewhere. I’d always used the red one. I discovered that yellow one was far superior! I will have to find a source and stock up.
By the time I’d finished the roosts and ladder, my husband had appeared and we set about moving the snake fence. The hens had not eaten it down, but the grass had grown too high in it for them to use it. Hens don’t generally like grass over 8” high.
The supervisory and commentary committee…
So we moved the posts and fence and he mowed a new area and we set it up again. The fox guard fence is still in place. Even though we’ve not seen the fox for nearly 2 weeks, we aren’t taking any chances.
Then we moved inside where it was cool and started on the coop. I dug and loaded the totes and he hauled them away and dumped them. I swept it out, applied a layer of ag lime (as we’ve still not replaced the linoleum) and started on the nest boxes.
I took out all the old bedding and spread it on the floor. Then I mixed up a new batch of oil with peppermint oil added and sprayed the sides of the boxes. I tossed the diatomaceous earth on the sides and left it where it fell on the floor of each box. Then I re-bedded each box deeply and the aisle in front of them. Last I sprinkled dried peppermint leaves in each box to repel mice.
The sleds keep the hens off the top of the nextboxes.
I finished bedding the rest of the coop and my husband used the shop vac to get the dust and cobwebs out that had built up since last fall.
I put the feeder back in, we filled the water reservoir and hung the cleaned waterer, filled the oystershell, checked the grit, and were done.
Grit, L and oystershell, R
In the summer I hang fresh herbs in the coop for something for them to pick at. I also will put diatomaceous earth on the walls where they are apt to be in contact. I didn’t need to do that this time. But I did forget to put the DE on the roosts after sanding them.
The finished coop with someone checking out the newly bedded nestboxes
I’ve been thinking about whitewashing the walls of the coop due to all the manure stains. It would also seal it against pests. But it is a huge job and probably won’t happen until the addition is finished.
On Friday we’d had the chicks for 4 weeks. They have been acclimated down to 70F but it’s been much colder than that at night here. By the end of next week we will take the heaters out and when the new netting I ordered arrives, we will move them out onto the middle pasture. We checked them yesterday and they are still not feathered out. (See the one standing next to the thermometer, no feathers on chest….)
We’d re-bedded their enclosure Friday and dropped the temperature to 70F. They’ve definitely reached the gawky teenager stage.
My husband had mowed the front and middle pastures with the bush hog we’d bought at a tag sale several years ago. It had not done a very neat job. He figured the blades had probably never been changed and decided new blades were in order.
But there was a nut on there he could not loosen with a breaker bar and a 4’ pipe on the bar. So he drove the tractor to our local mechanic and he got it off with his hydraulic wrench. So he got the new blades on and went out to mow.
I was resting inside and preparing for the chicken consult at 1PM. A couple came out from a good distance away and we showed them what we do here and why. We showed them various ways of doing things and offered lots of ideas they could incorporate as they build.
We explained a lot of our chicken care and why we do it. Discussed raising chicks over started pullets.
They have put a LOT of effort into learning and figuring out what will work for them. They’ve been planning since last year, and haven’t decided if they want to try birds this year or wait until next spring. In the meantime, they’ve started the infrastructure and are at a point where they can add on things or change before it’s set in stone. They are the first people we’ve come across who have done such a good job of thinking it through.
We had a good time talking with them and they left after 2½ hours and buying some eggs. I was exhausted and laid down and watched a movie, mostly with my eyes open….