Finally, some sunny and warm days! Where I live, we’ve been stuck in the rain and cold since April early. But the start of May has brough much better weather.
There is a lot of action in the farmyard these days. The guys are prepping machinery to go in the fields. Seeds are being delivered. People are coming to get parts and advice for their Samco machinery . And, of course, the cows continue to keep us busy. I’ve also been preparing my chicken coop for my 6 new ‘girls’ that are supposed to arrive over the next few days.
(We also have a litter of puppies running around. More on them in a future blog post!)
My chicken coop has been empty since October. My Golden Girls had stopped producing eggs. So, one of our farm workers was able to incorporate them into some delicious meals over the Fall and Winter.
I had cleaned the coop when it was empty but, decided to give it a real boost this Spring. I didn’t realize how big a Spring Clean would be required. (Full respect and appreciation to chicken and egg farmers!)
We have a neighbour whose insurance company declared his coop unsafe; he had to move his hens while he built a new coop. We offered to take them in. Instead of installing his hens like mine, I let him install them as they had been in his coop. Big mistake. My coop became full of wood rot.
I usually keep my hens on a sand floor with straw in the nests and plenty of perches. I rake every morning to clean the coop while I change the water and feed the hens. For my neighbours hens, I went every morning as I had every morning with my own. I sing the National anthem (bilingually), change the water, give feed, calcium, and hangout with them. (Yes, I really like to sing the National Anthem but there are not really many occasions for me to do so other than at the start of a hockey game. So, I found that the chicken coop is a great place to fulfill my need to sing it.) After two months the hens usually start singing it with me, I think they enjoy it. They lay their eggs and the world keeps turning
Back to my guest hens. Because of the neighbour’s set-up, I could not rake and clean the coop as well as I would’ve liked when our visitors were here. The hens simply would not go outside! While mine spend entire days outside in the yard behind the coop, eating, drinking, and sandbathing, my neighbour’s hens stayed indoors day and night. As you can imagine, it got it much dirtier than usual.
In the three short weeks they were with me, despite my best cleaning efforts, the smell really got to me. You cannot imagine how bad is the smell of a chicken coop when it’s not well cleaned. Very bad. Gross even. To the point nearly vomiting. No joke.
They left 2 days ago and I’ve been cleaning like crazy since. I’ve eradicated the wood rot, emptied the coop’s contents into manure pit, added fresh sand from the barn, and put new straw in the nests. I sprayed the walls with water to which I added lavender essential oil. Lavender’s calming properties can help reduce stress in hens and its scent can also help ward off parasites. I also put garlic in strategic corners of the coop. Garlic helps regulate the intestinal flora on top of masking strong smells. It’s also an effective and natural dewormer against parasites like pinworms, roundworms, and solitary worms. Hens that eat it regularly are also less bothered by fleas, ticks and red mites.
When I first got hens, I read all that I could on them so I could take good care of them. I learned that diatomaceous earth has absorbent properties that allow it to eliminate odors and moisture and prevent the invasion of parasites on hens and in their coop. So, that’s what I use.
One may think it’s easy to take care of laying hens, but it’s not. It’s not hard when you know what you’re doing but it can be annoying – even unsafe for animals – if you don’t. If you want them to be friendly, you need to spend time with them. They can even become a ‘pet’ that comes when called. Their happiness is my priority.
My chicken coop is now ready, and so am I, to welcome six beautiful brown hens.
The eggs we eat are so good, we hardly ever go out for breakfast because we can taste the difference.
I can’t wait to hear my girls in the morning while I attend to the cats and dogs, waiting for me and calling me from the yard. I’m also looking forward to new members of my morning anthem choir.
Wishing you a great spring.
A consistent consumer of Canadian products (food, clothing, furniture, etc.), Isabelle Bouchard is a city girl now living in the countryside on a dairy and crop farm in Lac Saint-Jean, Québec.
Self-employed since 2019, she was previously employed by great Canadian companies and the Government of Canada. Consult her LinkedIn profile for details.
Isabelle is excited to participate with friends in this great project. Both Canadian producers and products need the support and love of Canadians to shine and prosper. There are so many people who denigrate our producers and our Canadian products that she feels it is almost a duty to participate in C3FC.