Up bright and early this morning for my Covid jab and it seemed churlish not to go down to the allotment straight afterwards. Sporting a rather dead arm, my plan was to feed the chickens before watching the world go by from the shed. The bantams greeted me with shouts, complaining about the lack of greens. Grabbing a handful of weeds, I threw them in to keep them busy. I collected three eggs and dropped them into the shed.
Next, I went into the main coop to sort out the broken perches. As I was in the coop, I decided to move the pallets and food bins to make sure the end of the run was clear. This corner, which has been home to the food bins for years, will now be home to the pop hole and ramp to the nest box. Moving the massive black pallet was interesting. It’s extremely heavy and rather than shifting it to the other end of the coop, I propped it up against the side of the run. The smaller red pallets I moved to the back corner of the run. On a roll, I then pulled down the broken perch and stored the wood underneath the red pallets. As I moved around the coop, Tommy took exception to my shoes and proceeded to attack me. Quickly, I grabbed him and ruffled his feathers, keeping him still to show him who is Big Chicken.
Leaving Tommy to calm down, I collected a brush and dustpan and made a start on cleaning out the new nest box. It is clean inside, it just needed some old shavings removed. Partway through, Cliff appeared and offered to help cut the wire and make the join between the nest box and the run. Armed with am enormous array of different tools, we cut the hole in the wire and using two wooden batons, secured it to the nest box door frame. Putting in the ramp involved removing the slice of tree trunk beneath it with a smaller wooden block. It’s so exciting to know the new nest box is now up and running!
Back in the run, I noticed Millie seemed a little unwell, regularly raising her head with her beak open. I instantly recognised the signs of gape worm. If treated quickly, it’s not too much of an issue but if left the worm will grow in the throat, eventually suffocating the bird. Dashing up to the shed, I grabbed a small syringe and the bottle of cider vinegar. Catching her was more tricky as Tommy took exception to my grabbing one of his girls. I quickly got a dose down Millie and let her go after checking her crop. There wasn’t much food in it but it didn’t feel hard or overinflated. Putting her down, I turned my attention to Tommy who had been showing aggressive behaviour towards me whilst I was dealing with Millie. I pinned him to the ground between my legs and ruffled his feathers for a few minutes. He didn’t come anywhere near me for the rest of the day!
Looking around, I remembered that I hadn’t dug over the ground for a while. It took a while, Hattie had to assess each spadeful of soil for goodies before I could move onto the next. As I continued to dig, carefully trying to avoid decapitating Hattie would would insist on putting her head in the way regularly, I thought about how much easier cleaning out the nest box would be now that it is outside the run. The usual line of inquisitive beaks would no longer interfere, making a long job even longer! Although, judging from Hattie’s persistence, I may also have a feathery supervisor when cleaning the new nest box.
By now, it was well past lunchtime and after watering the plants in the greenhouse, I sat down in the shed with a snack. As I watched the bantams, I spotted a new arrival on the plot. Slinking past without realising I was there, Bertie ambled along the Omlet run, sniffed at the girls before heading off down the path. Taking a leaf out of Bertie’s book, I ambled off home.
Plans for the next few days include continuing to keep a close eye on Millie, encourage the girls to use their new nest box and tidy up the area next to the main coop.