Friday, 17 February 2012

Coop Cleaning And Such

Well, I must be getting the spring itch.  This time of year seems the longest time of year for me.  It seems to drag on and on.  I look out the window and all I see is snow, snow and more snow.

It is going.... slowly.  I think we are down to only about 3 feet of the white stuff now. 

The other morning's view from the Cable Car while I was taking the kids to the bus.  Even though I complain of the snow, I am in love with the scenery here.

I've finally got my coop cleaned.  I've been wanting to do this since we had a cold snap in January which froze everything.  Then we got a huge dump of snow.  Then the snow got tracked back and forth into the coop, and at last my coop thawed.  Yes, it thawed all at once and became a muddy mess.  All that lovely frozen chicken poo created a lot of moisture all at once, too.  

But alas, the snow was so deep outside, and soft that it made packing the old litter out of the coop to the back of the property where we pile it impossible.  I mean, how can you pull a sled of that heavy stuff through 4 ft of soft snow?  

Well, finally for pretty much the first time this winter, the snow has gotten hard enough to walk on.  I love it when I can walk on the snow like that.  It makes things so much easier.  

After our lovely big dump of snow.  

So I loaded up my sled with heaps of litter from the coops and brought it to the back of the property.  This year was so much better then last year.  You see, there is a slight hill you have to go down to the back of the property where we pile it.  Just picture this.  Here's me last year, pulling my heavy load of poo to the little hill, then trying to run down the hill keeping ahead of the load of crap, only to have the crust on the snow give way, and my legs to break through and getting hit from behind with the load.  Not a pretty sight.  lol.  But even I had to laugh.  Any ways, this year it was frozen enough that I didn't break through, and the job got done smoothly.  I managed to get it all done in one day.  Both the larger hen house, and the rooster/guinea fowl coop got the cleaning. 

Since I don't want my Roo's mixed in with the Hens, I let the hens out first while I shovelled and hauled.  It was a nice sunny day, and some of the hens ventured down the shovelled path a little.  Others stood on the heap on the sled, refusing to budge even when I started hauling it away.  So a few girls got a little sleigh ride.

When it came time to do the Guinea Fowl/ Bachelor Pad, you can only imagine the excitement.  Some of the roosters went out and calmly stood, mean while, the guinea's literately flew out the door over my head, and landed out on the frozen snow and squawked their little heads off.  They protested so loudly, that a neighbour heard them down the road and was wondering if there was something big going down.  Then one decided that it would head across the yard.  Luckily, it didn't go to far, or go sit in a tree to prove a point.  

A guinea fowl, being silly sitting on a pole for a day before it headed to a tall tree to spend the night and another day.  This was earlier this winter, before the snow really came.  Notice how you can see the dog house in this picture, and the picture before, it has disappeared under all the snow?  How about the apple tree, and the mini coop by the wheel barrel? 

The hens were quite excited about it.  I opened the bale of Peat, and left it in the middle of the floor.  You should have seen those girls, kicking and scratching in that stuff.  You would think they hit the jackpot!  There were hens dust bathing in the pile with the peat particles floating through the air as they kicked up a storm.  They sure do a good job spreading it out.

Since last summer I have been putting peat in my chicken house.  I find it to be working quite well, as it keeps things pretty dry (Up until recently).  The hens love to scratch and bathe in it, and it keeps the smell down.  Last summer I figured that since we have heavy clay soil and have to add some peat to it, I thought that perhaps I should first use the peat in the chicken house, they can add their magic to it, I can let it compost for a year, then add it to my garden.  I'm thinking this is going to work pretty well.  This way I get double the use of the peat moss.  Not only that, but it is only half the price I was paying for a bale of shavings for the coop.

I can hardly wait for this heap to compost.  This is the first I've clean the hen house since last summer, and really it was pretty good until it got wet. 

I also got the top of the nest boxes, roosts and other places scrapped off.   I think they have a secret mission to poo on anything that they can stand on. 

I'll wait for later in the spring before I do any wall washing.  I just don't want to add the extra moisture to the coop.

We also finally butchered 5 roosters I've been wanting to get rid of for quite some time.  A few of them I was sad to see go, but, how many roosters can you keep?  Especially if they can't be used for breeding.  These ones weren't very big, so I didn't bother plucking them.  Instead I opted out for doing something I had heard someone else doing that worked well for them.  Since most of the meat is on the breast and thighs, I just pulled back the skin off the breast and thighs and removed these from the carcasses.  Usually I clean, and pluck all the birds, and sometimes it's more work then it's worth.  This actually worked very well.  I put the thighs, drum sticks and breasts in a bowl of water and let them rest for a few days, then cooked them the other day, and made some curry honey mustard chicken.  Tasty little Roos.

Also I cleaned out the breeding pens, and put a few chickens in them.  The Fonze (polish Roo) is in with a couple polish hens and Phyllis Diller, my Polish X Frizzle.  A couple Barred Cochins are in the top pen, with a very zealous Barred Roo.  Rotten Ronnie the silkie has a hen with him, and he's making up for lost time in the bachelor pad.  I don't think I will have to worry about fertility there.   And Frosty, my Frost bitten BLRW rooster has a few hens with him.  But to be honest, I don't think Frosty has gotten the hang of mating with his poor feet, which got frost bitten in a cold snap way back in November.  He's quite happy to have the ladies in with him, though.  Borris, the Easter Egger is getting quickies with his couple hens.  I don't have enough pens this time of year, so I take him out with the pair of hens, and let him spend an hour or so quality time with them.  

A barred Cochin Rooster.  How could you not love a fluffy butt?

Boris the EE and his hens.

So I've started collecting a few eggs for incubation.  I plan on hatching a few to take to sale this spring.  Speaking of that, I've also been working on helping to organize a Poultry Small Animal Sale in May.  I'm very excited about it.  This will be my first time helping to organize anything like this before.  So far it's going well.  I'm just crossing my fingers that we wont have a spring flood, and blow my plans. I guess time will tell.

Another thing I've been attempting is to sew some Chicken Saddles.  Chicken Saddles are a covering that you put on a chicken to protect her from Roosters claws and spurs.  Hen's can also wear them if they are getting picked on or have bear backs until their feathers grow back.  

The saddles are made out of denim on one side and a canvas on the other side.

The hens don't seem to mind wearing them.

Well, that's about all the excitement that I've been up to lately.

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