Rather to my surprise, today was dry and, even more shockingly, there was sunshine! Granted in November, the sun contains little warmth but it’s a vast improvement on the past few days! Armed with cleaning supplies, I dashed down to the allotment during my lunch break to clean out the chickens.
Poor Maude and Mavis have had to wait quite a long time for a full coop clean. Thankfully, they are relatively tidy for hens and this made it easier to remove the old bedding and disassemble the Omlet. As I began to set up the pressure washer, I realised something was wrong. The water wasn’t coming out properly and there were air bubbles escaping from the top of the bottle. Just what I needed when I was in a rush! I wrestled with it and managed to slow the bubbles somewhat. Grabbing a sponge, I scrubbed out the nest box and the perches, rising them off with some water. Luckily, the site water is still on which makes coop cleaning so much easier!
Leaving the Omlet to dry, I moved onto the Nest House. This is always a beast to clean. As it’s so big, it took quite a long time to remove all the old bedding and the boards before sweeping it out. My blockade at the entrance seemed to work better with the wood on the run side. This meant that Rey couldn’t barge her way in! I also remembered to throw out some treats in the run to keep the girls busy and away from the Nest House while I was working. Once all the boards and insides had been cleaned, I left the door open to help drying. The Nest House, like all wooden coops, takes forever to dry in the winter.
Over by the New Coop, I walked around to check for any gaps through which marauding sparrows could break into the run. I spotted a few gaps and decided to tackle them after cleaning out the nest box. Using a long piece of wood as a prop for the roof, I began with a strong feeling of deja vu. To be thorough, I took out the nest boxes and swept them. This is a step I often skip due to time pressure. The nest box, as with everything that Will makes, is built to last and I never have any worries about the little bantams in bad weather knowing that even the strongest winds wouldn’t shift it. Apart from disapproving clucks, I was left alone to quickly clean the nest box without interruptions from Elsie, Foxy and Gertie.
Now that all three coops were drying, I retrieved the netting used on the Main Coop last year. I began with the front left panel of the coop, using cable ties to keep the netting in place. Next, I moved into the coop to block off several small gaps where the nest box meets the run. Finally, I took the remaining netting and ran it across the back of the coop. It is not a neat job but hopefully it will do for the next few weeks. My long term plan is to remove the roof tarpaulins and run the netting up to the roof. This would ensure no gaps or spaces for rouge birds to get in. However, the netting had risen at the base of the run. Now massively running over my lunch break, I utilised a mix of cable ties, bricks and wood to block off the bottom of the run.
My last job was to put in new bedding in each of the coops. It’s much quicker than cleaning out the old bedding and it went smoothly until I got to the Omlet. My only quibble with the nest box design is that to get the locking bar in place, you need two people, one on each side to wrestle it into place. I spent several minutes fruitlessly attempting to do it on my own before I called my husband to help. Even with an extra pair of hands, it took more attempts to get the pin through the bar. Frustration running high, we both booted our sides of the Omlet. Say what you like about brute force, I find it works! In went the pin and we both breathed a sigh of relief!
One final look around, checking every coop had food and water, I threw everything back into the shed and ran home, hoping no one noticed I had taken a very long lunch break! I just hope the girls appreciate the efforts we go to!
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