October 29th, 2009 .

Not a huge amount has happened this month – which is why I haven’t posted for a while. The main things that have happened this month have been to do with the shorter days.

Last time I posted, the girls had ended up sleeping outside on the coop roof. This was easily fixed by adjusting the sensor on the door opener/closer. I think the girls took a while to adjust to the shorter days, and don’t get tired early enough to go to sleep when it is still light.

That was at the start of the month – now we are at the end of October and the chickens all go off to bed before I even get home. This has meant that I have had to change my routine a little bit. I now have to muck out the chickens before I go to work which is always a bit of a rush as I find it hard to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Even with the new routine I can still manage to get to work withing half an hour of getting up!

Victoria is still her usual naughty self. I have to chase her around the garden most mornings and she seems to leave the enclosure and come back in as she pleases. I have watched her escape twice since I put the weldmesh fence up on the roof. The first time I saw her fly straight from the ground and over the fence, and the second time she flew from the coop roof and curved around the fence. Either way I don’t think there is anyway to stop her with a physical barrier – the only remaining option is to clip her wings. I’m really not keen on the idea so I think I will mull it over for a few more weeks.

One final thing that has started to happen recently which is a little odd – the girls seem to have changed their egg laying habits. Ever since they started laying they have always laid in the same place in a corner of the coop. Due to the fact that the eggs were getting cracked I put a nest box in there for them, and ever since I have found a cluster of eggs in the nest box each day. Then, about a week ago, they decided that actually they don’t like that spot so much any more! I now get eggs all over the place – but at least they always seem to be in one piece!

The chickens have decided they dont like the nest box after all...

The chickens have decided they don't like the nest box after all...

Now Try and Escape!

September 26th, 2009 .

I have had to put Victoria back into the pen a couple of times each day since I got back from Spain. Chasing Victoria around the garden isn’t that bad – sometimes it’s good fun chasing a chicken around the garden, but I think she finds it stressful and I don’t like having to do it when I have woken up late for work and she is being uncooperative. Luckily I have found a solution!

Hopefully this will stop her from escaping...

Hopefully this will stop her from escaping...

I have put a weldmesh fence on the side of the coop that she was jumping off – I don’t think she can clear the fence from the ground but she can easily jump from the coop roof into the garden. I have put the fence on the edge of the coop that she would jump off of – she can still get onto the roof (and crap all over it as usual) but she won’t be able to get out and destroy my garden. Now I just have to wait and see if it actually works…

Securing the Garden

May 14th, 2009 .

At the back of my garden, in the area that I have fenced off for the chickens there is an old wire fence. It’s pretty sturdy but there was a small gap at the bottom of it, so before letting the girls out for the first time I laid some old bits of wood in front of the gap. Yesterday I was watching the girls scratch around out the back and I noticed that the gap had reappeared – the girls had scratched away so much of the soil around the base of the fence that the wooden planks had dropped down and made a gap big enough for a chicken to get through.

Today when I got home I decided to fix this before I let them out. In the end I decided to pull all of the planks out and attach the left over weldmesh to the planks. I then put them back and twisted the ends of the wire mesh around the existing wire fence. Now the back of the garden is looking a lot safer. Now there’s no way for the girls to escape…

After dinner I looked out of the window and Meg had managed to get over the netting and into the main part of the garden – looks like their little enclosure isn’t so perfect after all! I can’t figure out how she got out – I’m not sure whether she jumped the net or jumped up onto the coop roof and then down the other side. Hopefully if she does it again I will be watching.

On the plus side, when I got home from work today there were 3 perfect, un-cracked eggs in the little nest area that I made inside the coop.

Nests and Netting

May 11th, 2009 .

Well the nest area worked to an extent but they still managed to push it away and make a bald spot.

It nearly worked

It nearly worked

I did get 2 un-cracked eggs but I wasn’t really happy with it so I decided to stop being lazy and screw the pieces of wood down. Now it looks much better.

Now its not going anywhere!

Now it's not going anywhere!

Last week I got fed up of the girls trashing all of my flower beds so I decided to put up some netting. I constructed a frame out of some bamboo canes and some string and put the netting over the top of it. It has worked surprisingly well and the girls have not tried to scratch through it once.


I lashed the bamboo canes together with some string - Ray Mears would be impressed by my efforts.

At the weekend 2 things happened which made me think I need to upgrade my netting. First of all the girls dug up one of my plants that was outside the netting (it looked like pretty tough but now I think it is dead). Then I planted lots of vegetable seeds in various containers and I realised it would be too hard to stop the girls destroying my crops. Since I was in the mood to get stuff done today I decided to use the remaining netting to fence off half of my garden.

I put up some string between the coop and the fence and draped the netting over the top, pegging it down into the grass. This sounds simple but it was extremely windy and I bent a few pegs. I then put some left over weldmesh on top of the coop to hopefully discourage perching on it (and jumping down the other side). I also had to block off the gap down the side of the coop – when you look at the photos bear in mind that this is temporary and pretty much an experiment. If the girls stay in their section I will do something better and make it more permanent.

Its not perfect but it seems to be working.

It's not perfect but it seems to be working.

This should hopefully stop them from jumping on the roof

This should hopefully stop them from jumping on the roof

A professional bodge job - the less said about this the better!

A professional bodge job - the less said about this the better!

The only problem with this setup is that it makes it extremely difficult to get in and out of that part of the garden. Part of the netting is held down with some large flower pots – I have to move these and squeeze underneath the net (it is pulled very tight so I can’t lift it very high) and try not to lay in any chicken poop. If this goes well I will redo it to have a proper gate.

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!