The Secret Chicken

stories of a secret chicken

Not that chickens are stupid…

April11

but they sure can fool me into thinking they are sometimes.

A week or so ago, I noticed that the glass egg I’d put in one of the nesting boxes had disapeared. My roommate laughed and told me to check the egg cartons…but I was more concerned that the chickens had knocked it into the coop, where I couldn’t really see it. But I thought, “They’ve been laying eggs in those nesting boxes since last summer – they’ll be fine.”

And they were, for a few days. Then I started getting fewer eggs – I thought, “It’s just because it’s early in the season yet. I’m sure it’s fine.”

And then yesterday I only got 3 eggs. Today, there were none.

So fine. I moved the run and grabbed a long-handled cultivator. and a flashlight.

Yes indeed, in a nice tidy little depression in the corner, there was a pile of white and brown eggs. At least my Araucana’s had sense to keep laying in the boxes.

I was going to leave it at that, it’s been on the edge of rain all day and I didn’t like the idea of messing with it all right then. I pulled out the eggs, grabbed the glass egg that had, indeed, fallen in to the coop. I cleaned out the nesting boxes, put in the glass egg plus a couple light colored plastic eggs from Easter. But then my chickens all looked at me, sort of accusingly. So I ended up mucking out the whole coop.

I’ve been using a form of Deep Litter Method in my coop, mostly because of the ease-of-use, with the homemade coop only having two openings – one up high for nesting box access, and one chicken-sized one at the base.  Using DLM, I can eliminate cleanings for most of the year.

It does mean that when I do a cleaning, it’s heavy duty.  It was about a foot deep when I did it today, but as advertised, no odor.  Pleasant surprise!  I used the cultivator and a hoe to pull all the litter out, which the chickens thought was awesome.  They immediately started digging through it, looking for treats.  After it was 90% cleaned out, I dumped in a bag of ABM and a crate of very dry straw.  Now it’s good for another 6 months, or more, depending on how much they use it in between.  They aren’t in the coop a lot, they have a large yard to roam over, so I may be able to wait until this time next year to clean it out again.  Not bad at all.

The litter that was removed is in a pile right now, since the part of the yard it will go to is just next to the coop, I’m counting on the chickens to do most of the spreading.  Whatever they don’t get by the end of day tomorrow, I’ll grab the cultivator and spread it around some.

I did find myself wishing that I could put them in the front yard, just for a few days.  They’ve completely torn up the moss in the back yard, which is something our landlord has been trying to do in the front.  He’s used moss-out kind of products up there, but I don’t see much of a change.  It’s just too shady.

Anyway, wish me luck on the ladies using their proper nesting boxes.  If they don’t, I’m gonna end up with back problems from pulling eggs out of the bottom of the coop.

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