Dismantling the Nest Box

Yesterday was so busy that I completely forgot to update the blog! Mid-afternoon I ambled down to the allotment, mainly to check on the chickens and to feed them. Four hours later, I was still on site covered in dirt with several blisters on my hands. It always seems to turn out this way! After feeding all the chickens, I looked at the nest box in the main coop wondering how best to dismantle it. The nest box is far too big to be moved out of the run before being taken apart. On impulse, I fetched a screwdriver and decided to take off one of the nest boxes. I chose the larger one so I could keep an eye on Tommy throughout. Although it’s unlikely he would have a go at me, I wasn’t keen to offer my bare legs on a plate (Note to self – wear trousers in the main coop no matter how hot the weather is!). Taking off the front of the larger nest box was relatively straightforward. As was one side. The top presented a few more problems but it was the base and other side which were much more difficult. The side of the nest box rested almost flush to the side of the run. I couldn’t reach the screws on the remaining side and after several failed attempts at wrestling the side using brute force, I gave up.

Still, it seemed a waste of time to stop so I moved onto the smaller nest box. This came apart much more easily as I had unimpeded access to all three sides. As I worked, I watched the entire flock enjoy a communal dust bath. Betweens them all, they must have covered every single bird with three times the amount of dust usually required. I piled up the old wood outside the run and realising that my hands were getting extremely sore, I took a well deserved break.

Grabbing a drink as I passed the shed, I walked across to the main path and spotted Cliff. We sat and had a chat about his new puppies and the preparations he was busy making. He also had had good news from the farmer that the little one who was poorly is doing much better. I can’t wait to meet them! Cliff came down and had a look at my hard work before he left and kindly let me put the wood into his trailer ready for the next trip to the tip. He also offered to drop across a builder’s bag for any other rubbish or wood I wanted to get rid of. It’s perfect timing as it means I can clear the back section of the main coop, get rid of the old nest box and the old perches all in one go.

This morning, I ambled down and spend some time chatting to Geoff, Cliff, Phil and The Plod. It’s an essential part of allotment life to idle the hours away chatting. Once pretty much everyone had left, I grabbed my weed bucket and worked my way along the edge of the plot. The grass was beginning to take over. As I worked, I watched Roxy and Foxy enjoying scratching at the weeds on the plot. They really are excellent weed destroyers! After finishing weeding the border, I made a start on the willow. The willow screen and arch tend to go a little beserk at this time of year. Using a pair of secateurs and some judicious plaiting of the willow, I managed to get it under control. Quite how I will manage to trim the top of the screen and arch, I have no idea. Deciding that was a problem for another day, I sat on the bench underneath the willow and watched the girls enjoy their free range time.

Corralling both bantams back into the run was interesting with Foxy diving through the comfrey to the other side of the run. Eventually, both were back in and I headed down to the main coop to find out what all the squalking was about. I discovered to my astonishment that it was all coming from Rey! Rey is usually quiet and definitely bottom half of the pecking order. Today she had found her voice and was yelling her disapprobation for the world to hear. Clearly, she wanted to go into the usual nest box to lay. Unfortunately for her, it no longer exists and she spent ten minutes popping her head through the hole hoping to find it, realising it was gone, then walked outside to see where it was. Hilarious though this was to watch, all of the girls have been able to get into the new nest box for over a week. Begrudgingly, Rey shuffled up the ramp and went inside the new nest box. She didn’t stay long and seemed to take vindictive pleasure in turfing out Maude and Mavis. Everyone kicks downwards don’t they? Or maybe that should be pecks downwards?

Planning to leave, I took one look around to check on Millie. She seemed to be struggling to drink water. Despite her regular cider vinegar doses and Flubenvet treatment, she still isn’t quite back to her usual self. Blocking her into the new nest box, I grabbed her and headed off up to the shed to have a good look at her. Inside the shed she immediately jumped up and perched on my trug. Tilting her head to one side, she studied Pop’s photo before staring at me suspiciously. I prepped the syringe and got a pot of water. Although she didn’t get the full dose of the cider vinegar, she got some down. Next, I tried to tempt her with the pot of water. No interest. So I grabbed her again and got a little bit of water into her. She had a partially full crop but I couldn’t feel any lumps or inflated belly which would suggest water belly or crop issues. The only thing I discovered was that she had a bit of bad breath. Her throat was clear and there was no sign of canker. Promising her I would consult Dr Google when I got home, I carried her back to the main coop.

Locking up the shed, I noticed the weeds growing around the side of the shed. As it was a quick job, I dashed around clearing the weeds. Then I spotted some more by the waterbutts. Somehow, another hour had passed and I had cleared the edge of the strawberry bed, the path between the shed and greenhouse as well as the weeds around the edge of the pond. Some days, it’s just impossible to leave! Before I left, I watered the plants in the greenhouse.

Back at home, I checked on Trixy who is still in full on angry broody mode. I watched her shuffle around on her nest and reorganise the eggs with her beak. I always love watching broody hens doing this. Outside, I discovered Nimbus and Cirrus enjoying the sunshine. Stratus was nowhere to be seen so I opened up the Omlet. There she was in the nest box. As I reached out to furtle beneath her, I received a sharp peck to the back of my hand. None of the silkies have ever been remotely aggressive. I stopped surprised. Then cautiously, I put my hand towards her. Again, an attempt at pecking me. Surely not? Was Stratus going broody? If she was there is no way we can have two broody hens sitting on eggs at the same time. I decided to wait and see what happens over the next couple of days.

Tomorrow’s plan is to finish weeding, check on Millie and try to remember the electric screwdriver so I can finish dismantling the old nest box.

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