Where did October go? It seems like we just turned the page on September and here we are in FULL fall feathering mode! What does that mean for the Beach Farmgirl exactly? In this case, it means cleaning the chicken coop! This is one of my FAVORITE farmgirl chores! It makes me feel good inside to know my girls will be safe and warm should the weather take a sudden turn for the worst. It is hurricane season in New England, after all. Come on in and visit with the girls and I while we clean and cluck through our fall feathering chores.
Here they are coming up to say hello and see if I brought any kitchen scraps with me. Our flock has shrunk to only 6. We’ve lost a couple or our sweet girls this year. One of our senior citizen hens died of old age and another was frightened out of the chicken run by a coyote that was rushing fence in the wee hours of the morning. We heard some unusually loud clucking noises and by the time we were out of bed and dressed to go downstairs all we could see were Liza Jane’s feathers scattered all over the back lawn. Our run is over 8 feet tall and was only partially covered on one end at the time. We’ve since remedied that! Losing one of our special girls was a hard price to pay for not finishing that chore when we started it.
Our coop has one entry door located on the inside of the run. The bottom of our coop is covered in vinyl flooring that has been stapled to the plywood floor. All I need is a rake to pull out the pine shavings. Then I sweep out the floor and get the cobwebs out of all the nooks and crannies with a broom. I have to shoo the girls out of the coop before I can rake out the shavings which always ruffles their feathers a bit. I get it! I don’t like being shooed either! You can tell by the looks of the litter in the photo above that it’s time. It’s wasted down to a couple of inches and loaded with feathers. I change it out every three months rain, shine, or snow! We have a large run so I just rake the old shavings right out onto the ground, away from the coop entry and move it to a far corner where the girls can scratch in it and it will compost further. Then, come springtime I go in with a shovel fill my wheelbarrow with fresh compost ready to be mixed in to soil for my container gardening, raised beds or spread atop my established perennial gardens.
I like to use a full bale of pine shavings each time I replace the bedding. It gives the girls a nice deep bed to take their dust baths in on wet or snowy days and it soaks up the droppings in the rear of the coop under the roosts. Plus, it insulates the floor keeping them nice and warm during the colder months.
During the hottest days of summer I open the door do the coop and let it air out all day until the girls put themselves to bed at dusk.
I get a kick out of how cautious they are about going back inside the coop after it’s all clean! They stretch their necks to they can see inside then turn their heads from side to side before jumping back in. So cute!
The nesting boxes hang off the back of the coop with a flip-top roof that makes collecting eggs easy!
Here’s Lacy Lou ” nesting ” on a clutch of eggs destined for a yummy quiche or baking.
Once I have the inside of the coop cleaned and replenished with fresh shavings I like to add something festive to decorate the front of the coop. It’s the least I can do for the girls after all those delicious eggs they provide for our family! I do something a little different each year. I’ve used silk flowers in the past because they add a nice pop of lasting color on the window but this year I decided to go native and create a fresh seasonal arrangement from my garden. I cut some branches from my oak leaf hydrangea, a bridal white hydrangea blossom with the first blush of faded purple on the tips of the petals, some autumn sedum joy that is already a beautiful deep purple color and a few feathery ornamental grass plums. I tucked all of the cuttings into a mason jar filled with water and then put the jar inside the container.
There! Now it’s time to relax around the fire and have some hot cider!
My hubby got the wood ready for us, but it’s been raining for three days so we couldn’t light it. We’ll just have to pretend it’s lit and warming our tootsies while we drink our hot cider.
We love Trader Joe’s Mulling spices for making our hot spiced cider.
Here’s our family recipe!