It being New Years Eve today, naturally the missus and I decided to spend some quality time with the chickens. These ladies have been popping out eggs all year and with the weather turning Canadian-nasty over the last couple of weeks, they’ve been packed in tighter than Germans at a Hasslehoff concert.
We’ve been employing the deep litter technique for their bedding which sounds like Middlesbrough Council’s approach to inner-city street cleaning but is in fact a bona-fide approach for keeping the coop clean. It worked pretty well through the summer and autumn but unfortunately isn’t so great for the winter. Having the girls indoors every day means it all gets rather messy. Like with the Belgians, we tried to explain the concept of toilets, or even just using a single corner of the coop for their Number 1s and 2s. Alas, like the Belgians, they just don’t seem to be able to grasp it.
Suffice to say the resulting frozen mat isn’t something we want our chickens on and it had to come out. So, we spent the last three hours digging and cleaning the coop from top to bottom for the Ladies What Lay. When the fresh shavings were in and smelling better than a bottle of Kouros, we turned our attention to the issue of outside time. It’s no surprise that when the ambient temperature is -20 Celsius, snow is falling and the wind is blowing hard enough to scour the freckles off your face, the Ladies don’t want to be outside. However, if we’re to avoid the need to change their bedding every few days, the Ladies have to venture out.
The inspiration for a solution came yet again from our youth. Emma and I have been together for nearly 18 years and have been engaged for the last 13 of them. We did originally intend to actually get married, sort of. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a small affair quickly got out of hand and the prospect of hundreds of barely-recognisable relatives greedily munching and drinking away our life savings was more than we could bare. Instead, we spent our money on a conservatory for our home.
For those of you not familiar with a conservatory, it’s a glass box added to your house in which the British like to sit and complain about the heat in the summer and how they can no longer feel their testicles / toes / other extremity of your choice in the winter.
Ours was a bloody nice conservatory mind you. It had a knee-high wall, top-end uPVC windows and vertical blinds to conceal the view of our garden’s brick wall. Granted, like all conservatories it was colder in the winter months than a 5p Mr Freeze and we had to pay the bloody Duke of Northumberland a couple hundred quid for his permission to build it (when the revolution comes, I’m getting that back), but it was ours and we didn’t have to worry about the bar bill or who we had offended by not inviting them to the grand opening.
Little did we know at the time that a mere twelve years later we’d be hip-deep in snow and chicken shit building another conservatory out of 2x2x8 lumber and 6mil clear poly. Life, ha, it’s a laugh eh?
Anyway, we cantilevered out the 2x2s from the gable side of the coop, used concrete blocks to support the ends and draped over the poly to create a prism of power. I applied way too many staples because once you start with a staple gun it’s almost impossible to stop, so the result isn’t the most aesthetically stunning home improvement. However, I’m fairly confident that we just built the world’s first Chicken Conservatory. I like to imagine they’ll be organizing concerts or cocktail parties under the luxuriously protective 6mil poly, perhaps having a soiree or two and raising a glass of Chateau Neuf-du-Pape to the Big House. Or maybe, like the Brits, they’ll just sit around and complain about a loss of feeling in their toes and how they’d have preferred it to be a little bigger. Whatever my avian Ladies decide on, as long as they do their business outside I’m a happy farmer.
Hope you all have a wonderful 2013.