Spring is on the way

March 1st, 2010 .

The last few months have been very wet. The days have been short, so I have had to muck out the chickens at lunch times, and the chicken area has turned into a bit of a swamp. Due to the poor weather, I have been spending as little time in the garden as I can get away with, which is the main reason that I have not been posting anything here.

One thing that happened this month was that the chickens decided to revert to one of their most annoying behaviours: They have once again decided that it is better to scratch their pellets into the ground rather than eat them out of the feeder. This isn’t really a problem when the ground is dry as they will still eat them, but when the weather is this wet they get scratched into the mud and are wasted.

I have come up with a solution to this problem. I had a stone hearth off the fireplace which was here when we moved in, and I have put this underneath the chicken coop where the food is. Although this does get covered in mud, it is a lot drier as you don’t get water coming up out of the ground. As well as this, I have had to wait until they have eaten all of the pellets off of the floor before refilling their feeder, otherwise they will scratch out too many pellets and they will be wasted. This means that occasionally the birds have to go half a day without any food being available, but I don’t really see any other option.

A couple of weeks ago, I got up late on a Saturday, to find that Meg and Victoria were both in the garden. This is only the second time that Meg has managed to escape, and they seemed to be having a lot of fun in the garden so I let Daisy out too and they spent the day free ranging. There was a bit of sun on that day, and it was lovely to watch them sunbathing and dustbathing, instead of wading through the mud.

Today I got home at 5:15 as usual, and it was still really bright outside. I rushed out to the garden and the chickens were still up and about, so I cleaned them out after work. I think this means that spring is on its way! This means that I can change my routine and clean them out every day, and hopefully spend a bit more time in the garden.

Hopefully I should have a bit more to write about over the next few months…


July 28th, 2009 .

Today my new cleaning products arrived – I ordered Diatom, Poultry Shield, and a spray bottle from Flyte So Fancy. This is a store that I have used a lot of times – they have a great range of poultry related products and delivery is always lightning fast!

Hopefully this will kill them!

Hopefully this will kill them!

Poultry shield is a liquid that I used to spray the inside of the coop and should hopefully get rid of red mite. Apparently it helps to destroy the mites and the eggs, and it was significantly cheaper than the spray I bought (probably cost me less than £1 to spray the whole coop compared to £15), and was also easier to apply.

The other product that I bought is diatom, which is diatomaceous earth and will hopefully prevent the mites from coming back. It works by dehydrating them, and although it won’t kill them instantly, it should help to control their numbers in the future. After I finished spraying the coop I spread a load of diatom all over the inside.

Both of these products were recommended to me on Down the Lane and those guys always seem to know what they are talking about!

Whilst I was cleaning out the coop again, I let the girls out in the garden. I must admit, whilst it has been stressful sorting all of this out, I have enjoyed letting them out in the garden again. They had great fun scratching around under my rose bush, and spreading a heap of grass clipping around the garden!

Chickens love piles of stuff, but they wont be piles once the chickens have finished with them!

Chickens love piles of stuff, but they won't be piles once the chickens have finished with them!

Naughty Chickens

June 8th, 2009 .

Today I went out in the garden to change the chickens’ water and the girls were really misbehaving. I opened up the back of the run to let them out in the netted area and then left a small hole at the base of the net while I went back to the house to fill up their drinker. On my way back to the house I got distracted and did a little bit of weeding, and when I turned around all 3 girls were out in the garden, and Victoria had made a bee line straight for the flower beds and was having a great time digging up all of my poppies. I had only turned my back for about 30 seconds!

I put the girls away and put the flower pots back on the bottom of the net to stop the girls from getting through, and went to fill up the water. When I got back out Victoria had managed to escape again through a tiny gap at the end of the net. I then had to chase her around the garden for 5 minutes to get her back in the run.

I always used to leave one flower pot on the net when I was out in the garden but it seems that the girls have learnt how to get out of that now. They really love trying to mess up my garden…

Weekend Away

May 25th, 2009 .

This weekend my girlfriend was on holiday so I decided to go away for the weekend and see my parents. My girlfriend’s mum offered to come up and look after the chickens which saved me paying pet sitters to come around and look after them.

I was a little bit nervous about leaving the girls for the weekend, and to make things worse as soon as I let the girls out on Saturday morning, Victoria jumped up on the fence. That was the first time I had seen any of them go up onto the fence and I was worried that she would end up in next door’s garden.

In the end I had nothing to worry about and the girls were fine – although they did make a few attempts to escape the netted off area of the garden! Apparently whilst I was gone the girls had managed to find their way into the rest of the garden a few times. When I got back I let the girls out and within 20 minutes of doing so Daisy had escaped and was scratching about in a pile of grass clippings by my compost bin. She was only out there for about 2 minutes but she managed to spread the pile around half of the garden! I think I am going to have to put some netting around the fence and the top of the coop before I let the girls out again.

One more thing happened today that made me laugh. I went out into the garden and put some meal worms in the run for the girls, in an empty washing up bowl that I put in the run about a week ago. I went back inside to watch tv, and when I looked out I could only see 2 chickens – Meg was nowhere to be found. Then I noticed the washing up bowl was upside-down and moving around by itself! I realised that Meg had somehow managed to get trapped underneath it and was walking around with it completely covering her. It looked really funny and she didn’t seem to be at all bothered by it (I think she was still hoovering up some meal worms that were underneath).

Run Extension

April 23rd, 2009 .

Today I took the day off of work to take delivery of an extension to my run. The weather was great today so I spent the whole day outside.

I didn’t know what time the delivery was coming so I had to hang around all day, so I spent the morning in the garden doing a few jobs that I’d been meaning to do for a while. First of all I went out and broke up some wooden pallets that I’d scrounged from work a couple of days ago. It took me a while to figure out how to do it but I got there in the end. After that I did a bit of gardening, and was just about to go in for lunch when the delivery turned up with the run extension.

The girls had been begging me to let them out all morning, and as I needed to take the end panel of the run off to fit the extension I let the girls out. Out of all of the times I had let the girls out in the garden, I think today was the time that they looked like they were enjoying them selves the most! Straight away they went over to the flower bed and had a dust bath. This is the first time I have ever seen them do this and they looked like they were having a great time. There are now 3 chicken shaped holes in that flower bed.

Daisy enjoying a dust bath

Daisy enjoying a dust bath

(I still havent thought of a name for this chicken)

(I still haven't thought of a name for this chicken)

It took me less than an hour to put up the extension – the main difficulty came from the fact that my garden is not very level. I had to use various bits of wood and bricks to rest one end of the run on whilst I put it together but it wasn’t too much trouble. I have to admit that I am very pleased with the way that the run has turned out. I bought it from here: wood-crafts. I would definitely recommend them if you are thinking of buying a chicken coop/run – the overall price that I have paid was very good and their customer service is excellent.

My extended run

My extended run

After I had finished building the run I tempted the girls in with some treats and went off on my first geocaching expedition which I thoroughly enjoyed! When I got back from that I finished making the pallets into a compost bin. All in all I think I had a pretty productive and enjoyable day!