The Fires of Hell

Level 4 Heatwave has finally arrived after days of fire warnings from the government, the Met Office and the British pessimism which declares every type of weather dreadful. If it’s raining, where is the sunshine? If it’s cold, where’s the heat? For the next two days, every conversation about the weather will adhere to the following pattern: “Gosh it’s terribly hot isn’t it?” turning to the person next to them in the queue. “Dreadful. I can barely sleep at night.” comes the response. “It’ll be much better on Wednesday when the temperature finally drops! It’s too hot to do anything!”.

Needless to say, I am not the only Brit who loathes the heat. But keeping the chickens cool was a challenge. Birds are quite susceptible to heat stroke which can be fatal. Chickens do not sweat and pant to cool themselves. Twice yesterday, I went down to the allotment to change the water in an attempt to keep the girls cool. Thankfully the main and new coops have lots of shady spots but the Omlet didn’t. So I rigged up a shade over the food and water for Maude and Mavis.

In addition to regularly changing their water, I also dampened the ground in parts of the run to help the girls cool down. I think it helped so I will be doing the same again today as the temperature continues to resemble the seventh circle of hell. Yesterday the temperature peaked at 36 degrees and today it is forecast to be even higher.

Three times today, I have staggered to the allotment to change water and spray down the coop. The girls are managing quite well considering but it will be a relief for everyone when the weather finally breaks. At home, the Silkies and Trixie are spending swathes of time out of the run in the shade. Stratus, for reasons best known to herself, is trying to go broody. Honestly, that bird will be the death of me! What sort of idiotic bird decides that she will sit for hours in a hot nest box on the two hottest days on record?! Much to her annoyance, I keep turfing her off.

On the other side of the garden, Cirrus’s chicks have been growing massively. They are quite flighty still but three of them are making strangled noises. I’ve arranged for our local smallholder to collect the boys. He looks after them brilliantly and sells them on to breeders or locals who want a cockerel. The sole pullet will be joining Dylan’s growing flock and with some careful introductions should settle in with Smoke and Flame. We will take the opportunity to fully clean out that area of the garden before bringing Maude and Mavis home again.

In the little coop, Coco and Winnie have become utterly inseparable. Poor Winnie isn’t regaining her strength as I had hoped and she is still struggling. Yesterday, I made her a little temporary wheelchair to see if that would help. I’m not sure it is helping her legs but being upright and off her belly seems to be doing wonders for her comfort and she is eating more frequently. I have reached out to a wonderful American lady who runs an online group which supports chicken owners who have birds with crossbeaks and special needs. Hopefully, she will have some ideas to help little Winnie. Her recommendation of oregano in apple sauce has been incredible so I’m hoping she has another amazing treatment up her sleeve.

According to every forecast I can find, the temperature is due to drop dramatically tomorrow. Not before time! It should come with thunder which should break the humidity too. Just as well because trying to keep the chickens cool has been really difficult!


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