It was hot today. Really hot. The forecast rain has yet to appear – there wasn’t even a token cloud in the sky. I arrived down, briefly said hello to one and all and made a start on feeding the chickens. The chicks are continuing to grow well and are eating everything I put into the coop. Fresh water and another tin of growers pellets and moved on to open up the shed.
I spotted Cliff and went to say hello. It turns out his White Leghorn was still sitting on her eggs and they are due to hatch this week. We went to check on her and found her sitting quietly and patiently. Some broody hens almost never get off the eggs, even to eat or drink. Cliff’s hen is one of those and he often hand feeds her so she doesn’t have to be off her eggs.
The heat was intense so before I did anything else, I put up the sail. What a relief to sit in the shade, enjoying the light breeze and listening to the birds. In the main coop, it was time to sort out the new pallet that Bradley has kindly moved into the coop last night for us. Now to anyone else, this would be simple. Remove old pallet, level ground, move new pallet into place, put food bins on top. Simple. And I would agree were it not for seven very curious feathery companions who were determined to get their heads into every nook and cranny, coming precariously close to being beheaded on several occasions. Every time I thought I had chased them away, I turned to find another digging a hole in what was only a few seconds before, a level piece of ground. Eventually, I got them out of the way enough to drop the pallet down. As soon as it was down, they all lost interest which meant I had the space to make sure the pallet was flat and stable. Finally, I lugged the food bins into place. I think it looks rather good. I stacked the two old pallets upsidedown and used them to raise up the sawdust. We may find a use for them but in the meantime, they will stay where they are.
Moving on to Leia and Rey’s coop, I was rather apprehensive. Leia was off twice yesterday. Where would she be today? Fortunately, I could only see Rey outside and upon checking in the nest box, I found a very grumpy Leia. What a relief! Steve and Phil had given me some good advice about moving Rey out so that Leia could concentrate on hatching the eggs she was sitting on. If you have more than one chicken with a broody, the broody hen will continue to hoard the eggs to the point where she can’t keep them all warm. This means the eggs don’t receive enough heat all the time and they won’t hatch despite the broody’s best efforts.
Rey is quite flighty and it took a while to catch her. She kept disappearing into the nest box where I couldn’t reach her. Actually, it’s not that I couldn’t, more that to reach her would require me getting very close to Leia and her sharp beak. I nabbed Rey in the end and took her into the main coop. Poor Rey. I don’t envy her having to find her place in there. She immediately hid under the nest box and has remained there, as far as I am aware, all day. Hopefully in a couple of days she will have integrated fully. As she is so young and quick compared to the others, she is more than capable to getting herself away from the others.
By this time, the heat was absolutely unbearable. Several bees loitered around the coop and wouldn’t leave me alone. I beat a hasty retreat to the shed, chased by an irate bee. It didn’t give up until I was on the main path. I took down the sail under duress and disappeared off home. I planned to go back when it was cooler and less likely to be chased by bees.
At about 6 o’clock, we walked back down to the site. The breeze had picked up a little and the air temperature had definitely dropped. Determined to finally sort out the broody coop. In order to move the run, we had to dig underneath it in order to free it. The new spot chosen was next to the main coop cleared and ready to take the coop, we made a start. The nest box was difficult to move, not particularly because of the weight, but the lack of handholds for carrying. With several stops on the way, we moved it into place and then went back to move the coop. The coop was much easier to move and we quickly got it into the right place.
The space left by the broody coop was bigger than I had remembered. We will dig it over tomorrow and work out how we will split the area. I plan to have a wide path running in front of the fruit section. This path will meet the central path, forming a t shape. I think the area where the broody coop was will need to be split into two. There should also be enough room to plant another tree too which is exciting! My husband has his heart set on an Almond tree.
Looking down the plot, the moving of the broody coop has really opened up the bottom of the plot. The pallet planters will make a good screen on either side of the new path. Tomorrow I think I will sort out the pallet planters and get hold of some compost ready to transplant the strawberries.
Lots of jobs to do tomorrow however, they may well have to wait until the heat of the day drops again.