Monday, 28 April 2014

Chicken run

We genuinely love our chickens and have never regretted getting them --- even if building the coop turned out to be more of a hassle than we imagined. Or when one goes missing. Or when one more appears. Or when they pass away. Or when they can be generally a handful. When we began letting them roam the property, however, we encountered a new problem: finding eggs in strange places.

Even when they were confined to the run, the chickens had, on occasion, tried to burrow under the coop and lay there – once we rescued one of the chickens after she got stuck underneath the coop, and I reached in and found a week’s worth of eggs there in a pile. Now, though, we find eggs all over – on Easter morning The Girl found a lot more than we planned, and about once a week we have Easter morning all over again.

When I unwrapped a pile of garden netting in the shed, getting it ready to put over the garden beds this year, eggs rolled out, and I caught them just in time. When I clear weeds from the pathways, I find eggs in the grass. We’ve found eggs in the bushes, and more in the bluebells. One was in the sink in the shed. The worst, though, was probably the eggs I found in the compost bin I made for the chicken manure I scooped out of the coop; apparently worms were breaking down the manure, and the chickens wanted the worms.

“Stop that! You’ll have your own poo inside you!” The Girl scolded them. “I mean …. again.”

They do return dutifully to the coop every night, and we lock both the inner coop and the outer run as a guard against foxes – our neighbour saw one in daylight recently, and thinks she has kits in a nearby field. The coop’s thin plywood is aging, though, and the door is warping far enough out for a fox to squeeze in. Thankfully, a fox couldn’t get inside the run unless the rusted hinges snapped off – which happened just tonight.

Usually The Girl and I do our nightly lesson upstairs, by candlelight – tonight it was kneeling outside, as she handed me tools. That will have to do for now, I said at length– we’re losing the light.

"I'm glad they'll be safe," said The Girl. "All the same, I hope the kits don't go hungry."

There's no shortage of rabbits here, I said. Or rubbish. 

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