We had our first cold snap last night down to 38 degrees and tonight is down to 34. We've had lows in the 40's for a few days, but nothing too bad mainly due to all the rain we have been getting. We have had I think Dh said 7 inches or so since the beginning of November. I know at least 5 inches. Don't quote me on that. It's a lot regardless. My poor chickens were in a muddy mess. It's been an ongoing battle since we started keeping chickens trying to keep them dry and comfortable. Finally DH and I discussed it and we came to the conclusion we needed to get this resolved. We need to either get it set up where it isn't such a mess or just not raise chickens. I began to search the internet for an answer. Enter, River sand; or construction sand either will do well, but no play sand. I read an article on The Chicken-Chick website espousing the wonders of sand in chicken coops and runs. Tired of the never ending glob of spent hay, pine shavings, or pine straw, I decided to give it a try. That's what I have spent this past week on. I feel better today, but during the process everything hurt and what didn't hurt didn't work let me tell ya. I had to dig a bed the size of each run ( one bed 3x6 and another 4x8) about 4 inches deep. That dirt will be added to my garden. I replaced the dirt with the sand and then moved the run back over it. I did this to two runs. In addition I thoroughly cleaned both coops and put in sand. One final move of both coops into their new permanent spot and I was done. I also altered where the laying boxes,food,and water were placed to cut down on the birds knocking things over or rain getting to it. I'm very pleased with the result. Maintenance has been significantly cut down and the birds seem to like it. The chickens feet stay cleaner and as a result so do the eggs. Two of the ladies have buried themselves in the sand taking their dust bath. The food and water are staying put and not getting turned over. All in all a good weeks work. As I finished up I put away tools for the season, organized what needed to stay near the coops, and collected any trash so now my back yard looks nice and ready for the on-coming winter.
I have pictures of the Chicken Subdivision. Feast you eyes!
These top three pics are of Queen Victoria's coop/run. I have the feed hanging on the wall inside. The water as you can see hangs outside because they keep bumping into it in the coop. The laying box is in the door which makes it easy to give feed and collect eggs at the same time.
These two pics are of Garris and Miss Priss in their retirement villa. Their food and water is able to be inside. The food is on the door and the laying box is inside the coop instead of on the door. These two are what is left of our original flock. She's getting older and won't lay for much longer. Garris is DH's arch nemesis and source of entertainment so He has longevity because Dh can't get rid of him. There will come a time, but for now they stay put.
This is the pic of the two coops together; my chicken subdivision.
One more thing we have to address. We have 1 rooster and two hens (no longer laying and not in these pictures) who need to go in the freezer. That is how I will spend my Saturday. Not anything I'm looking forward to, but necessary none the less. I can't afford to feed non productive animals. We will still have another rooster to go in the freezer once he's old enough, but for now he's too small. He will be separated from the flock and fed a different diet to add some weight.
( 9 Hours Later.....)
Well I now have 3 chickens cooking. Two are on the stove and one is in the crock pot. I will be the first to say I am not at a point in this process where I can do a how to. I am still learning and trying to gain confidence. I can say this go round went better than I thought and I am not traumatized thinking I caused undo suffering. My hands would beg to differ though as I have multiple cuts on them from trying to get the birds processed.. But all's well that ends well.
So there you have it. The summer wrap up. Now my focus turns inward to holiday stuff and normal house maintenance. That is until around Dec 26th when my thoughts turn once again to the garden.
Have a great day!