This morning, we walked down to the allotment determined to get through the massive list of jobs that I have been ignoring due to the inclement weather.
We made a start by feeding Leia who seemed quite perky this morning. I put her out and left her happily exploring while we went down to the main coop. It took a while to clear out all the old bedding but it definitely looked all the better for it.
We had a slight diversion watching Steve and Phil battling to get rid of a swarm of wasps. They have settled on top and all around the new colonies in the nuc boxes. As they are small vulnerable colonies, it’s easier for the wasps to get in and steal the honey. Steve cleared out the wasp traps and refilled them. It made no difference. Mick the Greek left us in awe as he knocked the wasps off the outside of the traps and killed them with his bare hands. It was scary yet impressive to watch!
Next, we cleaned the boards in the coop. Each board needed a thorough cleaning with diluted anti-mite fluid to ensure any mites were killed. The added bonus of this fluid is it temporarily acts as a mite repellent. To finish the job, we washed out the entire nest box focusing on all the corners and edges where mites like to hide. One of their favourite places to hide is at the end of perches. I always make sure we soak the ends of the perches in a more concentrated anti-mite fluid to kill them off.
We left the coop to dry out and we joined the usual collection of fellow allotmenters at the clubhouse for a drink and a snack. We had a good chat with everyone before heading off to check on our little chick. She was enjoying exploring the greenhouse so we left her to it.
Our next job was to reconstruct the nest box, adding diatumous earth and sawdust in each box and replacing the boards and perches. As we put in the final few boards, we had several inquisitive girls checking out our handiwork.
Before we left the coop, we caught each one and treated them with diatumous earth. Mites feed off chicken blood and can weaken the immune system. This is particularly worrying in older birds who are more susceptible to picking up infections. Molly and Millie led us a merry dance – these chickens are wily and refused to be caught. It took both of us to corner them and catch them! Molly disappeared under the nest box and had to be carefully hauled out to be treated. She wasn’t impressed.
Our last job was to pick up the chick and treat her. She was more resistant than usual which shows she is getting stronger. We put her back into the coop and went home.