Chicken Coop Darma

Archie at 3 or 4 months old. His tail feathers are not quite grown in.

There's chicken coop drama every day. Archie, our beautiful rooster, is always suspecting fowl play. No one is immune, even if he's not in a killing mood. He has very specific words, and speaks them as he sees it. We can be in the middle of anything, and any one of our 4 cats can be anywhere. If he can see them, he will let us know one has been spotted. Chickens have amazingly fabulous eyesight.

Archie groans, growls, crows. When he finds treats, like a bug nest, he has a specific word for that. The chicks all run over as he clears the area and then he stands back while they graze. While they are snacking on the yummy treats, he watches for danger. Always. He's like Yosemite Sam from Bugs Bunny, always marching around with spurs and his little gun ready.

Chickens have personalities

Left to right: Turquoise, Pearl, Emerald, Amber

The girls are very sweet, even though Andy thinks Ruby's got a mean streak . . Since she was the tiny size of an egg, 2 days old, she bites first thing, and says hello later.

All of the girls will be mean to each other, especially when everyone has to lay an egg at the same time. They have 3 nest boxes, and as Cath warned on her very informative website, Raising Happy Chickens, they will line up for one box. It's so true. They wait in line, complaining that their egg is the most important one to be laid.

It's very noisy some mornings, after the coop is cleaned and I have started my work day. High drama in the chicken coop, as I say. Luckily, I love it, and farm animal chatter is normal for Andy. I thought they were singing joyful egg songs. 

It took me a while to realize what was really going on. One day there was so much drama, I thought I'd try to help them sort it out. The girls beat on each other, bite and kick each other out of the nest box. Some days, Emerald and Turquoise will go at it for hours. Whoever gets tossed out of the nest box, storms around screaming. "I have to LAY AN EGG!!!" while the temporary winner gets into the favored nest box. It's like giving birth every day.

The day I "helped", Emerald kicked Turquoise out. So I thought I'd offer Turquoise the upper nest box. She angrily flung the straw all over the coop, and looked down at Emerald settling into the nest. She jumped down, got into the nest, bit her, and kicked her out. It's circular pettiness until everyone has laid their egg.

Cleaning the coop

We get up right before dawn, have a coffee, and I head out to the chicken coop as the sun comes up. While I put out the feed and water, I talk to them. They march around the coop, anxious to get out and greet the day. Archie usually gets out first and looks at the skies. If there's danger, he shoves tham back in the coop until he feels like it's safe.

All of this sunrise drama usually happens before I scoop the poop out of the coop and wash the roosts with Waterless Hand Soap. I have a dedicated sponge, WHS bottle, and gloves for this task. 

Copper's egg stories

Click here for the trials and tribulations of the chick who is the lowest in the pecking order.

We moved the coop 

by moving the coop, we will be able to see the chicks more easily and enjoy their company from our patio.

Moving the coop to a better location is a nice idea, but was hugely upsetting to Archie, our Rooster. Plus, it was supposed to be nice weather all day, and after Andy started the move, the weather turned very windy and rainy. Since he was in the middle of the move, there was no turning back to wait for nicer weather. And it was getting late, as you can see by the photo light. It was time to  begin pillow talk for bedtime, and the chicks bed was being relocated. Archie was in a total tizzy.

As soon as this cool snap passes, we will empty out the coop and scrub off the Winter, with Waterless Hand Soap. I use it every day in the Spring, Summer and Fall, to wash the roosts during my morning chicken poop scoop cleaning ritual. 

I have a dedicated sponge, dust mask, a set of rubber gloves,  8 oz. Waterless Hand Soap Bottle, a hat that I tuck all of my hair up into, and jump suite for this daily scooping event. Even though it only takes 5-15 minutes, I avoid any direct contact with their dust. It's essential for their health and can be toxic to humans.

I scoop the poop, and put in the special chicken poop compost pile, which will eventually turn completely to nutritious compost and go into the garden in the late fall, when the garden is put to bed for the winter.

Then I remove the roosts, spray them with Waterless Hand Soap, scrub them. Then I scrub the roost holders, around the windows and the next box, and the walls. I clean this every day, except in the freezing temps, when it's too difficult. However, we do change the sand more often in Winter. 

Dust is an essential part of chicken health consisting of the correct kind of sand for inside the coop, Outside, in their run, the sand mixes with straw, the dirt, and grass. I occasionally add peat moss to those special spa locations, with portions of ant hills containing yummy larva. These spots are where they choose to dust bathe. It's sort of disgusting until you get used to it, but they squeal with delight when they get to eat ants and the larva, and then take a bath in it.

After I finish cleaning the coop

I take off my special cleaning gear, shake out my jumpsuit, wash my face, neck, and ears, with a bar of Ithaca Soap in case even the tiniest speck of dust got in under my protective gear. 

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