Today I walked down to the allotment in the sunshine! The British weather is notoriously fickle and after many days of overcast weather, we finally had a warm spring day. Until it started to pour with rain. On and off giving the perfect example of April showers! I checked Dolly first and she seemed reasonably happy although she had managed to flip her water container over again. I washed it out, refilled it and watched as she drank. She seems to be drinking better.
Next I let Leia and Rey out and began to clear out the greenhouse. Halfway through sweeping out the old bedding, I noticed Rey desperately pecking at the glass. I let her in and she immediately jumped up into the nest box. Mere minutes later, she gave a loud cluck and laid her egg. The sweeping noise didn’t go down well so I let her and Leia back out. It didn’t take long to finish clearing out the old bedding and replacing it with new sawdust. I left once I had filled up their food bowl and water feeder.
My husband appeared as I was finishing in the greenhouse and I sent him off to feed and water the main coop whilst I checked on Dolly. Between us we dosed her up with oil, egg yolk and water. I added garlic puree to her water too. Before we out her back into the coop, I tried to get out some more gunk. Some more came out from the back of her beak but it still doesn’t look quite right. Dolly definitely put up more of a fight today. We left her to chill out and ran to the main coop as the heavens opened.
We spent several minutes debating about whether to clean out the main coop as the rain makes drying the boards and perches far more difficult. In the end, we decided to do it. The coop is well overdue for a deep clean and we can’t risk a more infestation. So we began. By the time we had cleared out the old bedding from the nest boxes, the sun was out again! My husband got busy cleaning the perches and boards whilst I cleared out the middle section of the nest box. In doing so, I looked carefully for any sign of the little mouse nest. I didn’t expect to find anyone at home. Sadly, I found a small dead mouse in the nest. I buried it before finished sweeping out the base of the nest box.
As the boards were drying, my husband amused himself by picking up chickens and I disinfected and cleaned the nest box. We left it to dry for half an hour what we sat outside the shed and enjoyed the sunshine. I remembered that I also needed to check on the worm towers. So whilst my husband battled with trying to get refunded for a cancelled holiday (thanks entirely to COVID-19), I got busy adding layers of damp shredded paper and weeds. Hopefully the worms will enjoy their new food and bedding. If I can find a deal on larger boxes, I want to expand the worm farm.
Worm towers went back into the shed and we checked on the coop. The nest box was dry so we used the antimite spray on key areas in the box where the mites tend to hide. Fifteen minutes later, we added generous sprinkling of diatumous earth in the nest box. The bottom boards went back in and the perches too. For a final touch, we put in plenty of new bedding in the nest box and hoped that this would inspire the girls to actually lay some eggs. I guess we will see tomorrow!
Phil kindly gave me a few small comfrey plants which I will plant tomorrow along the edge of the plot. In order to encourage better growth, I used some of the worm juice (liquid fertiliser) heavily diluted on the top part of the plot and on the strawberry bed. Part of the struggle of growing on our plot is the clay soil which floods so easily but I wonder whether the soil is a little depleted. Regular watering with diluted worm juice should help reinvigorate the soil. As we walked along the edge of the plot, we spotted Dolly sunbathing. It’s a sign of a happy chicken.
Tomorrow we will feed Dolly again and plant our potatoes. I intend to add a small bit of worm compost with each seed potato to give it a boost. If the weather holds out for a couple more days I may been get around to planting some other odds and ends.