If you have been keeping up with What the Flock, you probably noticed our ladies have gotten more and more nervous and scared. That’s because some of our chickens are mean girls! They peck on each other and sometimes pull feathers out! These poor four chickens with a lot of feathers missing are getting a break! You can see a couple of them are wearing what we call saddles. It’s just a little canvas cape that can stop other chickens from pecking, pulling feathers and scratching them.
We built them their own chicken tractor! The tractor is sitting in the back yard. They get to spend time away from the chaos and get fresh grass and bugs! It’s kinda like them having a Spa visit! Once they are done chewing up all the grass and bugs in this space we move the tractor to another spot. They leave behind their poop and their poop fertilizes the grass!
It’s a win win for everyone!
See the girls in their chicken tractor on their YouTube Channel:
Today is officially coop cleaning day. Like my threads? Next step, hazmat suit!
How it works is we kick the girls outside to their run and close their chicken door. While they peck on the door saying “Let me in!” I laugh and remind them that if they would clean up after themselves they wouldn’t have to go through this every 3 months!
We have to pull out all the pine shavings and tractor them out to the compost pile. Then we sweep the walls and floor. Then, I pull out a shop vacuum and vacuum all the surfaces including the windows, vents and roof peak.
The girls leave a lot of dust floating all the time! It collects so fast it’s crazy! Everything gets covered in dust within a day.
Now it’s time to take water, a couple drops of toxic free light dish soap and vinegar mix and wipe everything down. Feeders, waterers, roosts and nesting boxes get a good scrubbing. I RARELY use chlorine because it’s not good for the ladies respiratory systems. I only use it if I’m cleaning an area where there was a sick chicken. And then I rinse the heck out of it!
Now we replace the food and water with fresh stuff in clean equipment. Then toss in fresh pine shavings. I like to put the shavings in a big pile. Then the girls like to come in and dig around in it, spreading it around on their own!
See how the girls react to their clean coop on their YouTube Channel!
If you saw my last blog entry you would have seen our ladies NOT try our delicious apple treat we hung in their run. Why you ask? Because they are chicken! No, I didn’t call them chickens….. I called them CHICKEN!
COME ON LADIES!
We tried to give another treat to you today but when we tossed little flakes of the cabbage for you to try, you RAN AWAY! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT ?!!
We found that letting the chickens out in our back yard results in a complete disaster of a lawn. Every chicken we’ve had scratches up not only the grass, but also every plant and root within their reach. After destroying one of our flower beds we made the decision to bring unwanted grass and weeds to them instead!
Whether we have grass clippings from mowing the lawn or weeds that we pulled out of the garden beds, we toss it in a pile in the chicken run so they can have at it. I’m sure there are a lot of tasty bugs in there too since we never use chemicals in our yard.
See them scratch away on the ladies YouTube channel:
UGH The ladies are still at each other’s throats! We are having a tough time stopping them from pecking at each other! I thought since it finally warmed up and the days had gotten longer they would have more fun time and enjoy life!
But NOOOO, they would rather stalk each other and grab a mouthful of feathers instead!
That being said we are researching ways to keep these crazy chickens busy! So today we are going to make a Swinging Apple Treat! First, tie a string from the ceiling. We have a wood beam in the middle of the run we tie rope around. Drill a hole through or core an apple and put the string through it. Handy hubby cut a piece of wood into a round disc and drilled a hole through the center. So now you take that string and put it through the top of the apple, down through the hole in the disc and tie a knot at the end so it holds the disc under the apple. If your string is too thin you can tie a stick at the bottom to keep it from slipping back out.
Anyway, once you are done you pick a few pieces off the apple so the chickens can have a taste, then let it swing!
Of course our jumpy ladies are scared to death of anything they haven’t seen before! Oh well, back to the drawing board, looking for more things for them to do!
The ladies have been stuck in the coop and driving each other crazy!
The thing is I know these ladies better than they know themselves. They act like I’m keeping them prisoner or something! The reality is if I opened that chicken door they would take a step out, stick their neck out, and turn right back around and go back inside. Besides, they are too snooty to get messed up in the snow and mud. We are talking 6 inches of snow and precious little chicken feet here!
So now we have to snow shovel our drive way, our side walks, our path to the coop and NOW we have to shovel snow out of our chicken run! There isn’t enough time in the day to get all of that snow out.
The easiest way to keep our ladies happy is to push a bunch of snow out of the way of the chicken door and build a wall out out of it to keep them from wondering too far. Where we cleared out the snow, we lay down hay to keep those little chicken feet from touching the ice and keeping their little tootsies warm! Nobody wants those precious tootsies to get frost bitten!
Just a few hours of freedom from the coop gave the ladies an attitude adjustment for the better!
It’s just after new years and the snow has finally melted. That means giving the run a good cleaning! When there is snow we put straw down so the girls little feetzies don’t get so cold. Then on a dry day we rake it all up and throw it in the compost pile. But the girls apparently don’t like us picking up all their nastiness! It’s so fun to play in!
What should take 20 minutes takes an hour! When I’m not forcing them out of the bucket, I’m trying to stop them from scratching and kicking around the piles I built, trying to load them in the bucket!
But how can you get made. They are just too cute!
See the girls playing with the poop bucket on their You Tube Channel:
This picture is actually mouse tracks leading to the chicken run door! The first snow our girls experienced started with a scroungy little critter trying to find shelter in last nights storm! It managed to squeeze it’s way through the corner of the run doorway, up the chicken ladder and somehow through the corner of the chicken door into the coop!
Call us surprised when we went into the coop to refill food and water to find a mouse darting around with the chickens chasing it! It was still pretty dark so the chickens were sleepy but trying to catch the little monster! After about 5 minutes of a game of chase I opened the chicken door and let the scared to death vermin out!
Needless to say we are now making sure that at least the coop door is super tightly closed at night.
As the sun came up the girls finally got to experience their very first snow outside. I don’t think they were very impressed. They wouldn’t even touch it! Avoiding anything white! It didn’t take long for them to starting back into the Tajma coop where it’s always toasty and comfortable.
So we were harvesting vegetables out of the garden when our neighbor called and said they had boy scouts on their property looking for arrow heads to earn a badge. She asked if they could come by to see the chickens so they could collect an agriculture badge. Of course we said “SURE! Come on over!”
So much excitement! Everyone wanted to touch a chicken so hubby held one while everyone took a turn petting. We explained how chickens lay eggs and that they don’t need a rooster to do it. We told them that chickens can lay lots of different colors of eggs and no, we don’t paint those colors on! We told them they lay an egg every 24 to 36 hours.
We showed them the inside of the coop and the new high tech nesting boxes and they were impressed at how happy the girls were just hanging out inside. They laughed when I explained that the Tajma Coop was meant to be roomy and cozy! And then I had to explain that all the feathers on the ground were from the girls molting like they do in the fall to get their new winter feathers. Each kid asked for a feather to add to their collection or to attach to their badge.
After the kids started to walk away the adults grilled us on how we treat the girls. “Do you let your chickens free range?” “Are you sure you have enough space for those chickens?” “How do you sell the eggs?”
We answered all the questions honestly and of course our girls get all the things they are supposed to get, plus a little more petting than most!
We were surprised a couplet days later to get this card from them. All the kids signed the card and on the inside they wrote…..Thank you for letting our cub scouts come over and visit your chickens. We all had a blast. We were so grateful for all the time you spent with them. Letting them pet one was the highlight of their visit.
The girls were happy for the visit too. The kids all pulled a few weeds and fed them through their fence! A Win Win for all!
Its going to be 100 degrees today and luckily I’m home to help the chickens make it through the day. They have already made it through the last two days of 96 degrees. They are very tough birds! But then again I picked Rhode Island Reds because they are known to tolerate both extreme hot and cold. And today they made it to 100 degrees and still managed to chase bugs without skipping a beat! Impressive!
Last year, with the old flock, I made frozen treats with berries. RIP old flock that had a run in with a fox. I admit, we snacked those ladies too much. They grew so fast we had problems with heart attacks in the heat. So this flock will not sucker me into given them a lot of cracked corn. Too much candy! Anyway, these girls are going to get only the best! Fresh organic veggies straight from the garden! Today’s menu consists of chopped zucchini and lettuce covered with water and frozen into a cake pan!
Of course the girls were fascinated by the treat but too scared to eat it! I was so frustrated and concerned with them cooling off! You can hear it in my voice in the video!
But after I left them alone, they finally realized how good it was, because the tin I placed it in was completely beat up! It must have been a hit!