The Mudlets and I have been chicken sitting again but this time for much longer. Having looked after a friends three chickens for long weekends, several times over the last few months, we were more than happy to take on the responsibility for two weeks whilst our friends disappeared off for a well earned camping holiday. Popping over a few days before they were due to depart for a recap on feeding etc, we discovered that the chicken coop/run had received somewhat of a makeover and they now had more than twice as much space in which to strut their stuff.
” Dad was getting rid of his old greenhouse,” the friends mum explained, “and we asked if we could have it.”
And there it was, in half of its’ glory, attached to the original run but instead of glass panels, the aluminium frame had been clad with chicken wire and encased two small trees to provide roosting for the chickens. There were also some long, thin tree branches, securely suspended from the roof frame and it was obvious that the chickens were thoroughly enjoying their increased space. What a fabulous way to reuse the greenhouse frame.
Agreeing to look after the birds for such a long period of time, was quite a serious undertaking and has meant that the Mudlets and I have been leaving our house first thing, before breakfast to walk round to let the girls out, feed them etc. We have had to venture out in torrential rain to check on them, put them away for the night and following almost 24 hour rain, the ground in the greenhouse section very soon became waterlogged, leading to quagmire conditions, especially by the door to the original run. As I watched the girls squelching through the churned up muck to put the birds away on Monday night, I realised that if the rain continued, something would need to be done.
Tuesday morning dawned wet and miserable and the conditions in the greenhouse section were worse than ever and so I decided that the chickens would have to be confined to the original section of run for the day because, though I knew that the chickens wouldn’t necessarily come to any harm in the rain, I was really worried about them becoming coated in the thick mud and wasn’t entirely sure that would be a good thing. The original part of the run, not only contains the actual coop but two thirds of the roof of the run is covered, thus providing a bit more protection for the birds. Needless to say, the chickens were not at all impressed to find the door to the greenhouse section shut and bolted but I really didn’t want to have to explain to their young owner, why I had allowed them to become caked in thick mud!
Watching the girls slipping and sliding their way to the connecting door of the original run, it became painfully apparent that if the rain continued, they would really have a struggle next visit. So I had a look about the garden to see if there was anything I could utilise to improve conditions. My eyes settled on a pile of off cut lengths of wood. I quickly selected three long lengths to cover the area immediately by the connecting door which Middle Mudlet carefully placed an inch or so apart, creating a path and three smaller lengths to act as stepping stones from the outer door to the centre of the greenhouse, where there was already a conveniently placed square of concrete. This set up has worked a treat and the Mudlets have been able to access the chickens with relative ease.
The girls have really enjoyed looking after the chickens for longer than a weekend and have taken their responsibility really seriously, although watching the chickens dispatch and then fight over a rather large frog that had had the misfortune to stray into their pen, was a bit of an eye opener and resulted in a hasty text to another chicken owning friend, to make sure that chickens could actually eat frogs which it turns out they can – and pretty much anything else they can catch.
Today, if the weather holds fine for long enough, we’re going to clean out the nest box and coop, a job we’ve been trying to get done over the last day or so but as the coop isn’t under the covered section of roof, have been reluctant to do in the rain, not wanting to cause the main dry area to become wet. Of course this is normally the one area of chicken ownership that the girls don’t usually become involved with but with the prolonged period of care, this less glamorous side of pet ownership it’s something they have to tackle.