Clean Coop

Q: What does weather have to do with a clean coop? A: Everything.

I realize that I haven’t written much about my girls lately. They (and all of us) had quite a miserable spring and early summer.

Spring was long and chilly. It got to the point where we were all just tired of being COLD. The wind blew, it rained, and it was more than brisk. Words like cruel, bitter, and “Uncle! Un-cle!” come to mind.  I found myself reading novels that featured heat, white sand beaches, deserts, pyramids, even camels (that’s when I know it is really bad because I can’t even stand llamas!)

Be careful what you wish for because what followed was equally distressing.

We sort of skipped spring and went straight to summer. I’m not talking about balmy 70 and 80 degree (F) weather either. Imagine walking into an overheated sauna—minus the spa—wet heat at its worst, day and night. Add to this equation a van with no air conditioning and bad ventilation. Words like brutal, heat stroke, and “Mommy—Mommmy!” come to mind. I continued reading novels set in exotic locales—vacationing vicariously, sequestered in my darkened, air conditioned house.

Although we are suffering a bit of a drought, the temperatures have been perfect. When the weather is cold and rainy, nothing dries. When the weather is dangerously hot and humid, you don’t want to stress any animal by depriving it of shade or causing it stress in any other way (and nothing dries). This is particularly true of chickens. (See my May 24, 2010 blog, “It’s a Scorcher! Chickens and Hot Weather.”)

I picked a warm, sunny, breezy day to clean out the coop that allowed me to work outside in the afternoon (because I didn’t want to stress the chicks by cutting them off from their nests when they needed to lay). I wanted the dust I was raising to be sucked out of the house by the prevailing wind and the sun to dry the coop furniture quickly after I had scrubbed it. I needed to  have the job done before dusk.

I used Dawn dish soap in plenty of clean water to scrub down the perches, waterer, walls, floor, and ceiling of the coop. (You might want to use something stronger if you are having any bug or disease problems.) My laying boxes stay on the wall but are designed to clean up easily. I wipe them down whenever an egg breaks or the birds soil them. I also replace the pine shavings in them on a weekly basis.

I bed with the finer textured pine (not cedar—the fumes are bad for dogs, cats, and birds) shavings. I pick my coop daily, removing droppings and feathers that might harbor mites or parasites. The birds have access to the yard year round, so I don’t worry about them not developing disease resistance by living in too clean an environment.

I clean my coop spotless once a year in the spring. This year was the exception because of the rotten weather.  I’ll refresh all the pine litter when winter closes in once more. All the litter from the coop either goes into the compost pile or onto different garden areas in the fall to mellow over the winter.

There is a special, contented feeling you get when you head in for a shower and a meal knowing your animals are freshly bedded down in a clean stall, coop, or barn. Begonia

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