22 April 2021. Hello again, world. New website, new blog. Lots of reasons: just trust me, this way’s the best.
How are things in the back garden today? Well, it’s making progress again. Today I’m just going to talk about the chickens, because they are always top of my mind.
The chicken flock, which expanded last year, decided they didn’t like each other so much over the winter. In Enland there was a whole season of bird flu compulsory housing orders, in which free ranging was practically outlawed.
Now technically they all had plenty of room in the main run, I could have covered it with tarp. But just a few feet away there was the new larger polytunnel, and the main hen run needed some serious work to bring it back up to standard. New wood chipping on the floor, for one. So they went into the polytunnel.
The Winter of Discontent
While they were in there I got chance to watch their interactions. About halfway through, Rizzo, one of the older hens, decided she wanted to be top chicken again. Well, Tiny is the new rooster, and he can’t allow that sort of talk amongst the wives.
So Rizzo and Tiny settled into a long running dispute that ended with Rizzo simply refusing to leave the coop every morning. I resorted to putting her in the equivalent of quarantine housing during the day. Good heaven, that was a fuss, every day for months.
Chicken wire ordeal
The compulsory housing order finally ended. After much work beforehand, I separated the Eglu coop from the main chicken run.
I set up the Eglu coop and 2 metres of run on an area with aviary mesh laid on the ground (advance anti rat defence). I had to replace the door section of the run as I have dim memories of selling it when I didn’t think I’d need it again. Rookie error. I ended up having to email Eglu since I have an old Mark 1 coop, for which supplies are increasingly hard to come by. Luckily they were able to sell me just a replacement door section!
Meanwhile, work on the main run began. The whole thing was moved back about half a metre and then refortified into place. At the back section, where the Eglu had been taken out, I had to remove all the wire and put in a new section. Two and a half bulk bags of clean wood chipping later, we were ready to go.
Day of Reckoning
Then came the morning I was able to open the polytunnel door and let them out.
They immediately split themselves into “Team Empress”, with four of the older hens following the Dowager Empress Rizzo into the garden. They rather happily followed the food bucket all the way to their new home.
Meanwhile “Team Fear The Sky” had rushed to the back of the tunnel, with Tiny getting up on a high perch and alarming his head off. He did not want them to go out! Eventually I ended up shooing them out and then half shooing, half enticing them into the newly refurbished main run.
Then of course I needed to take apart the newer coop in the tunnel to be cleaned down and reassembled in the main run. It was a long day but worth it in the end to see them all settled and happy again.
22 April 2021: back to nearly normal
So it’s probably not the way we’d intended to keep the chicken flock, as two smaller flocks, but their welfare comes first and it was clear Rizzo and Tiny need to live apart.
Everything’s working well. Team Rizzo could benefit from another metre on their run, but they get first free range of the day nearly every morning. Team Tiny have settled down without the older hens there arguing about the patriarchy oppressing the masses.
Meanwhile I get to play ‘hunt the egg’ after they’ve been out.
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22 April 2021
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