Monday, November 29, 2010

Recent Happenings, or How to Clean Out a Coop in the Snow

We have had so much snow in the past week. Well, a lot of snow and then a lot of cold weather so the snow is still here. It last fell on Saturday morning, prompting my dad and his wife to leave for Bend earlier than they had planned. Ice on the Gorge or in the hills up from Biggs Junction is not something to wait around for.

Typical for me, I have been obsessing about the chickens. Once I got the freezing water situation under control (runs out to the back every two hours with boiling water), and figured out how to cover the coop well at night, my thoughts turned, quite naturally, to the growing piles of poop- and pee-soaked shavings in their sleeping area. I've read (and have seen first hand, now) that chickens do well with cold weather, as long as they stay dry. Humidity is the big baddie, apparently. So I've been thinking a lot about all that pee since the girls are not too keen on frolicking around in the snow. They spend many, many hours upstairs. Suddenly I understand why a big coop is a great idea in cold climates. Of course, this not normally being a particularly cold climate, certainly not one with snow and below freezing temps before Thanksgiving, I didn't take this into consideration when building a coop. Even Dave, not one to spend much time thinking about the chickens, remarked upon the utility of a barn.

Which leads me to Sunday morning. It warmed up enough that the chickens actually flew/hopped out to the boat rack and perched there for about an hour. They were clearly stir crazy, from being "cooped" up too much (ha ha). Grace and I ran out to do errands, ending up at Basin Feed (which had three absolutely adorable miniature Australian Shepherd puppies that I managed not to walk out with) to get new shavings. I came home and stewed about the situation until I saw all five chickens downstairs. The moment was right, I made my move:

It's fuzzy but maybe you can see three of the chickens on top of the coop--Ruby, Silvia, and Bunny, from left to right. The other two are behind the coop. They were none too pleased to be kicked out, but hey, don't mess with an obsessed chicken-keeper. And I have to say, the eggs are much more enjoyable to collect now that they aren't streaked with poop.

This morning I let the ramp down only to hear a big thud. The ramp came completely off its hinges. You probably can't tell too well from the picture, but the only way to screw the ramp back on is to do it from inside the coop. So this morning I flipped the whole coop over on its side and screwed the ramp back on. The chickens did a nice job of staying on the dry spot, I did a good job of not stepping on them, and Grace came out just in time for me to flip the coop back into place without crushing one of them. All before my second cup of coffee and breakfast. I'm thinking I could tackle pigs, cows, goats.... Yeah, only in my dreams. I'm still a city girl at heart.

And keeping my fingers crossed that the weather lets up so I can leave town for a while before the holidays.

No comments: