Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, Poultry!

I spent this New Years morning cleaning the chicken coop. That means I strap on my dust mask, take a flat-bottom shovel and wheelbarrow, and remove all of the old bedding, feces, and in this case, chicken body parts from the inside of the coop.

Why chicken body parts? That sounds so morbid! Well, it was Mike's birthday on the 29th, so we went into town and enjoyed some drinks and dinner with friends. We didn't get home until a whopping 9pm; hours past our curfew. In our absence, raccoons had savagely killed both of our roosters, spreading feathers and innards all over the coop, inside and out. (In the dark, we thought more were missing, including our female turkey. Thankfully, all of our hens, ducks and both turkeys were there in the morning.) We are still brainstorming how to deal with the ever-increasing coon attacks.

When we were building the house, the I asked the flooring guys to give me any linoleum scraps they might have floating around. I was given a couple of rolls, and the countertop guy also brought me some. They were all happy to give them to someone instead of paying to take them to the landfill. I used some for countertops in my studio, then used the rest for the floor and nesting boxes in the new coop. I am so glad that I did that because it makes it much easier to remove the soiled bedding. I fill load after load into the wheelbarrow and take it to garden beds to spread as mulch.

When I worked in an office, they bagged up the shredding to be thrown away. I used to take the bags home and use them for nesting boxes. This worked great and saved money. I use cedar shavings from a local mill for the floor. Cedar has natural antibiotic properties and stays clean longer than anything else I've tried. My friend Paul at Barnyard Gardens showed me how to build a ledge in the opening of my coop and fill it at least 6 inches with shavings. I toss scratch grains onto the floor each day, so the chickens turn the bedding, and I can go about 3 months before changing it out again.

New Year, clean coop. I also cleaned my studio, so I can finally get back in there and get some work done. But that's a story for another day.

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