My arms may never be the same again after today. Digging out the coop is by far my least favourite job and one that I dread due to the inevitable back ache, arm ache and exhaustion that follows a full day of digging, filling up wheelbarrows and lugging it all over the plot. I started at half 10 this morning. By three o’clock in the afternoon, I still had a quarter of the coop still to go! There were intermittent snow flurries which matched the cold weather. The constant digging and hauling wheelbarrows was hot work and I hardly noticed the temperature until I stopped for a quick break.
By half 3, I was beginning to lose the will to live. That last section of the coop took more effort and three times as long to clear. By five o’clock, I was on the home straight, putting back in the black pallet which the food bins are kept on as well as the two smaller brown pallets. Hauling the food bins into the coop took all the strength left in my arms. Looking around, I realised all the chickens had gone to bed and that the light was fading fast. Quickly, I loaded up the last wheelbarrow of soil (was that 22 or 25 barrows now? I had lost count) and lugged it up the path, depositing it in one of the beds.
My husband appeared to help me feed the girls as I dashed around five finishing off putting the last few odds and ends away. As we closed the coop door we hit a snag. It wouldn’t close. Granted the coop door is always a little sticky, but it absolutely refused to close fully. By now it was pretty much dark and I had been on site for eight hours. The door was the only thing stopping me going home, having a shower and collapsing in a heap, never to move again. Several choice words were used to express my frustration and both of us spent several minutes desperately trying to close the door. It wasn’t until I got out a torch and examined the door and frame on both sides that I spotted a screw had worked loose and was blocking the door from closing. Queue several tense moments as I tried to get it back into place. It wouldn’t go. So I tried a new spot but my exhaustion and the awkward angle led to my hand slipping and nearly slicing open my hand with the screwdriver. At this point, I gave up all home of ever getting home. Fortunately, my husband stepped in and managed to get the screw in enough to secure the door back together and for the door to close fully. What a relief! I trudged home, promising myself that next time I dig out the coop, I won’t be doing it alone!
I didn’t manage to get any photos of the dug out coop but I will get some tomorrow. It wasn’t until I looked at the plot that I revised quite how much I had dug out! By my reckoning, I had dropped the soil level in the coop by about 10-12 inches – that would explain the enormous amount of soil now dumped all over the plot. Hopefully, the new soil will help lessen the flooding although I am not holding my breath!
So tomorrow’s job is to add the chippings into the coop and rake out the soil from the coop across the beds. Always assuming that I can move at all tomorrow…
I feel bad that you are having to work so hard maintaining your chicken coop! If I may, I’d like to share how I do it, maybe it will ease your work load. I clean every day, rake out some & add clean shavings. The coop is never so bad that it takes all day, cleaning every day takes me about 30 minutes. Granted you may have a ton of birds, but one thing I’m sure of is keeping on top of the cleaning has to be easier that what you are going through!
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I do clean out the nest box and poo pick each day. The main issue is the wet – the coop often is a muddy quagmire and we struggle to keep the girls off the mud. We are moving away from using shavings as some of our girls try to eat them 🤦🏻♀️
I dig out the coop every year to remove the top foot of the soil to ensure there is no disease or nasties hiding in the ground. Due to the chickens being in the coop year round, the ground in the coop needs to be removed at least once a year. It has the added bonus of being used as fertiliser on the plot which is great!