The Water is Back On!

Today was a very exciting day. A day that for us chicken keepers means the end of months of lugging gallons of water down to the site. On days when the coops needed cleaning out, I would occasionally have to do two trips, one for the chickens drinking water and another to collect enough water to clean the coops. So the annual turning on of the site water is a day to be celebrated! No more hauling water or trying to work out whether the coops can manage another couple of days without a clean. Another exciting part of the day was the christening of the new tap on the middle path.

I arrived via the car park and headed off to have a chat with Liz. She was busy tidying their storage shed so they can fit their new rotavator inside. We were busy chatting when Derek joined us. He had been busy getting the water turned on and checking the taps were working. After Derek headed off home, I walked back to the Nest House and began to sweep it out. I did so cautiously as I had disturbed a mouse a couple of weeks ago as I collected eggs. Once the bottom boards were out, I discovered a beautiful little feather-lined nest. Fortunately, it was empty which meant I could remove it without too much guilt. I felt distinctly less guilty when I realised the mice had gnawed a hole in the bottom of the Nest House!

Liz kindly gave me a heavy tile which I used to cover the hole. I did briefly consider more wood but it seemed rather pointless considering the damage they had already done. In order to fit the tile in the nest, I broke it into two pieces and fitted them over the hole. It would have to be a pretty strong mouse to push these up I thought to myself as I cleared away the remaining bedding. By now it was quite late for lunch and I went over to see what Liz was planning on doing. Between us, we decided sausages cooked on one of our Ecozoom stoves was a delicious and practical idea. Sending a message to my husband to bring supplies including plates, bread knife and napkins, we headed off to the retail park in search of sausages and rolls.

Upon our return, we deposited our loot in my shed and attempted to light the stove. With the high wind, it was almost impossible to get the match to stay alight long enough for the wood to catch. Liz suggested a fire lighter. I refused, stating that it was “cheating”. About twenty matches later and listening to the mock sighs from.my husband who had joined us ten matches earlier, I gave up. Infuriatingly, the fire lighter worked instantly. I really must brush up my fire lighting skills – I am loathe to use such aids. But I can’t deny, they have their uses on days like today. Within minutes the frying pan was on, the sausages sizzling. We say around the stove, chatting about Liz’s job, world affairs and allotment news. A comfortable silence broke the conversation only as three mouths were full of food. There really is something about cooking food outdoors which makes it taste so much better.

When round two of sausages were finished, Liz produced some chocolatey nibbles. These didn’t last long and before we knew it, half the afternoon had gone. It didn’t take long to tidy up and as Liz ambled off to her plot, I set my husband to work. He went around each coop to top up food as I tackled the cleaning of the Nest Box. Happily, with the pressure washer, this is a quick process. The longest part is waiting for the coop to be dry so the new bedding can go back in. To be productive while we waited, my husband went over to Geoff’s plot to weed the raised beds we borrowed last year. It’s not far off planting time and we want them to be in a respectable condition so Geoff can plant as soon as he is ready to.

Over on our plot, I decided to dig over the front beds so that the Little Weed Destroyers can enjoy scratching in the freshly dug ground. Shifting the Omlet run would have been fairly straightforward if I hadn’t had to try and keep three bantams inside who were determined to escape. Judging from the resounding silence from DEFRA about Flockdown, I suspect they will have to stay inside the coop for several more weeks. After half an hour of solid digging, my husband helped me shift the run, rotating it so that it faced the shed. I love having the run in this orientation in the summer as I can sit and watch the girls from the shed.

By the time the run was set up, secured and their food and water bowl the Nest House was dry. Tommy and Rey were watching my every move over the wooden barricade. Thankfully, putting in the new bedding is the quickest part of the whole process. As soon as I removed the barricade, Rey immediately barged through the door. I wonder how many eggs I will find tomorrow?

Over in the new coop, I went to check on the littlest partridge bantam who has been hiding up on the perch to avoid being picked on. As I walked in, I was greeted by them all en mass. I grabbed a handful 9f food from the bowl and hand fed the bantam. She was quite hungry and scoff the entire handful. I washed out a small water bowl and refilled it for her. As I walked back into the coop, she launched herself at me, landing on the water bowl. I had no idea they were such good flyers! Gently, I put her back on the perch and held the bowl as she took a long drink. Turning my back for a split second, saw the water bowl go flying as another girl jumped up onto the perch. Inevitably, the water went all over my shoes. Sighing, I took this as a sign that it was time to go home. I shut up the shed and headed home.

So the plan for tomorrow is to clean out the new coop and dig over the ground in there. Should I have enough energy left, I want to clean out the greenhouse. Oh and finish putting up the shed at home…

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