I know, I know, I used to spend all my time talking about paint chips and sawdust and now it’s all donkeys and chickens and shit-shoveling. But seriously, I’ve had six chickens living in my house for the last six weeks. I’d give myself a moment to ponder that bit of insanity, but it’s probably better if I don’t dwell too hard on the amount of chicken poop in my life right now.
What is more surprising to me than having a small flock of birds living in the house is that they no longer resemble the fluffy little six pack of nuggets that lived in a tupperware four weeks ago.
Oh no, we’re in full-blown feathered chicken territory now.
Chickens do not just sit around in a heap of fluffyness and snooze the day away. Oh no. Chickens have things to do.
These things involve playing keep-away with chicken treats, running around in circles like little feathered drama queens, and, a new favorite, “pile on”, in which one chicken stands on the roost or the top of the waterer and then basically belly-flops onto whoever happens to be under her.
Almost weekly I’m making some kind of adjustment to the cage to accommodate how quickly they are growing and what kinds of messes they’re making.
The water dish has been a particular point of fascination. Based on recent experiences I’m guessing if I could speak Chicken, these are the kinds of things I’d be hearing about it:
“How many wood shavings can I put in here? Is that enough? More? More? Let’s put in more.”
“How about poop? I totally think we should poop in our only source of fresh water. PoopPoopPoop. Poop party at the watering hole!”
“This looks like a good thing to sit on top of. OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING?! Why is this thing on it’s side? I was just sitting on it FLAPPING MY WINGS, I don’t understand what’s going on here.”
Up until last weekend I was using pine shavings for the bedding, and just setting the food tray and water dish on the floor of the cage, but since I’d about reached my limit with cleaning soggy poop-covered wood shavings out of the water dish (why yes, my life is as glamorous as it sounds) I tried something different and put down straw for their bedding and raised the food and water up on some bricks.
Did not work.
The chickens are going, “WHATTHEEFF IS THIS STUFF UNDER MY FEET. Ah. Ahhhhh! Ah. Get me outta here. Getmeouttahere. It’s going to GETTTTTT MEEEE!”
Seriously, it was a chicken meltdown-slash-pile-on in the corner of the cage for the first fifteen minutes, but they finally got over it. Amazingly, the water dish stayed free and clear for two whole days but the chicken cage smelled way worse with the straw instead of the pine shavings.
So, we’re back to shavings for the time being, with the hope that having the water dish raised up on bricks keeps it clearer than before. This was a great experiment for figuring out what will work best in the coops as well. The chicken tractor will have a similar cleaning schedule to their current cage, but in the “big coop” I’ll build later this spring I’m going to use the deep litter method with pine shavings.
And speaking of the chicken tractor (ie, the “moveable coop”) I’ve made a little progress over the last couple of weeks. You know, when I wasn’t being dragged around my property by a pissed off donkey.
The girls are about big enough for outdoor excursions (I think… I mean, what the eff do I really know about it?) So I switched from working on the coop itself to the detachable outdoor run that will accompany it, and I also rigged up the most backassward area for them to get a little taste of the outdoors in the meantime…
If I get the actual covered run done first the girls can spend some afternoons outside over the next couple of weeks before they’re ready to be full-on outdoor birds. And it will also be conveniently sized to fit over my raised garden beds so the flock can be put to work on a specific area.
And that is just one of the many little adventures happening on the farm these day.