It’s there. You can’t ignore it anymore. Every time you walk to the building to get something, you catch a big whiff of it: The stinking aroma of chicken manure. It’s time to clean out the Chicken Castle.
It was dubbed the Chicken Castle because of it’s uniqueness. Yes, that is a plastic kiddy play-house. It was given to us by our brother-in-law while cleaning up some property. Someone had converted it into a small chicken coop, and we added it to a previous coop (also given to us…)
The Daddy, along with some nephews, made some repairs and add-ons.
Now, it’s not the first or even the 5th or 6th time that it’s been cleaned, but somehow the time increments in between cleanings has grown. Life happens. When the hens start to hesitate to go inside at night after free ranging, it’s pretty bad!
Part of the delay was getting dry straw. We don’t have a pickup-other than the farm use one that The Daddy drives for work-so that makes hauling straw a bit difficult. That was my excuse…
Finally, I decided it would just have to go in the back of the Expedition: kids, groceries, and all!
A dry day came, the boys all went to cut wood, so us gals tackled the Chicken Castle. We had the straw, so next it was time to gather the needed tools for this dirty job.
*[amazon_textlink asin=’B00W5TGD3W’ text=’gloves’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bf76c566-06c7-11e7-9a24-0f931d7e83e0′]
*little wheel barrel
*snow shovel & normal shovel
Who is Pinky, you ask? She is a little plastic kid’s shovel that use to be red, but years of sun and weather have lightened her. She’s great for getting in hard to reach places and just the right size for the kids to use.
Part of real family farming is that everybody helps with something. So yes, our 6 year old scoops out manure and can push a small wheel barrel. But boy does she feel BIG when she fills that thing up and pushes it through the yard! Our 11 year old daughter is the “dumper”. Once we fill up the barrels with old straw and waste, she pushes it to the compost bin where it joins the grass clippings, egg shells, and night crawlers; great for the garden. She prefers that job over scooping and shoveling.
Out with the old, in with the new. Once all the yuck is scraped out, we scatter a thick layer of golden straw, maybe 2 inches deep, all over the floor. We make it a little thicker under the roost because that’s the “gathering” place. In addition to the floor being cleaned and re-covered, we tidy up the nesting boxes.
It seems silly to talk about keeping the boxes “tidy”, but it’s necessary. See, we have 2 hens that not only lay their eggs in there, but like to sleep in there as well…Needless to say, they make a mess. If we don’t at least clean these out consistently, the bottoms of the chickens get all nasty. That’s not good for the eggs nor the birds.
A friend of ours was cleaning out his garage, and gave us half a bag of store bought wood clippings. (These can be purchased inexpensively at a local hardware or farm store.) I add this to the nesting boxes to help absorb the waste. It helps with the odor and works kind of like kitty litter in forming clumps.
Once the new bedding is down, we lightly sprinkle some [amazon_textlink asin=’B006O8OWFG’ text=’7Dust’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d6b4c879-06c7-11e7-91f5-a99613bad636′] or similar type bug spray inside the coop. This is only done once or twice a year just to help with parasites that might want to harm our girls. As of today, we haven’t had any problems with that. There are several “chicken experts” that can give you more information on this; I’m just sharing what our family has done.
Finally, the boxes are welcoming, the floor is covered with dry, golden straw, the fertilizer is gone to decompose; HERE COME THE GIRLS! They are so excited! They immediately begin scratching and poking around, even trying out the boxes in which they will lay their next brown egg. Ahhh, job complete and the hens give their “cluck” of approval.
Once the tools are put away, (yes, that’s part of family farming too), we human girls head to the house to wash off! There are often dirty jobs around the farm, and it seems that, in our family, only the females have the stomach to do this particular one…
We celebrate our finished labor with a glass of sweet [amazon_textlink asin=’B00286KM2A’ text=’tea’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f757e351-06c7-11e7-8010-1d31b2ab1d2c’] and some Oreo cookies. 🙂
I can honestly say that now we can go to the building for a tote and not gag as we walk past the Chicken Castle.
Next time, I’m not going to wait as long in between cleanings. 🙂