Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rain, Rain Go Away

We've gotten more than our share of rain this year. It's the first time in a long time that we're not in a drought. Usually we're under all kinds of water restrictions. Not this year. This year we've got more water than we know what to do with. As I mentioned recently, I started putting a tarp over the coop's run when the forecast calls for rain for more than one day in a row. It has helped immensely. The run is staying nice and fairly dry. The girls must be happier and they look a whole lot cleaner. I mean, it's hard to get a dust bath in a mud pit. 

It helps that we've finally had more dry days than rainy days in the past week and a half. It's a welcomed change for all of us. The girls like having more dry days because they get out more. I love our hens, but not enough to want to stand out in the rain so they can scratch around the yard. Sorry, girls. The other day after work, I let the girls roam around the yard for awhile. They'd been cooped up most of the week because I'd been out of town for work and my counterpart had a pretty crazy work schedule himself. They were quite overdue for a nice free ranging.
Pouncey, Bossy and Erickson's fluffy behind
Ocho, who had her mind on her money and her money on her mind
Belle, the usual loner, stayed a little ways away from everyone else.
Apparently, the fence was a prime scratching zone. The girls spent most of their time along this one stretch of fence between our yard and our neighbor's. After awhile I left them alone and went inside. They seemed too content to shove them back in the coop/run so quickly. The funny thing is that when I went out to close them up, three of the five were already back in the run. It figures. Of course they came running at me velociraptor style when I came out with the little container of scraps. A bribe is always the best answer to getting everyone back in the coop in a timely fashion. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Soggy Hens

It has rained here for nearly a week. When I say "rained" I mean poured down buckets, torrential downpours, thunder storms, rained cats and dogs, monsooned, and any other description of insane amounts of rain of which you can think. It has been ridiculous. Yesterday was the first day we haven't gotten rain since last week. We haven't had this much rain in longer than I can remember, if ever. We're usually in a drought this time of year, so the city restricts when you can water your plants and wash your car. Not this year. We could probably turn on the hose and let it run for a week and no one would notice. Rain is great. We need it. However, there is no way we need this much rain in this little amount of time. Our chickens are going to build a tiny canoe and paddle away if we keep up with this trend.

The run is a mess. It's muddy. It's stinky. The girls look dirty and gross. Now some of you are probably judging me and thinking our coop/run is poorly situated or has bad drainage or we don't keep it clean. Quite the contrary. Our coop is situated so water will drain away from it based on the slope of the yard. We clean it weekly and sometimes bi-weekly in hot weather to decrease any propensity for stinkiness and flies. When you get five inches of rain in two days, no one can keep a coop and run clean. Earlier this week I threw a tarp over the portion of the run that's only covered by hardware cloth. It's helped keep some of the rain out so the dirt doesn't get any wetter and muddier. I wish I'd thought of it a day or two earlier. Poor girls. Even the part of the run that's always covered by a roof is still fairly gross. With as much rain as we've had, it's impossible to keep it out entirely. I'm pretty sure it was raining sideways at some point. Now we have five fat dirty hens clucking around out there. This is the time when it stinks to have feather-footed girls. Their feet are muddy and they look a mess. Then the eggs get covered in nasty mud when they get in the laying boxes.

The girls are not happy about the weather situation. They haven't had a lot of free-ranging this week, so they've been cooped up. Luckily, they've still been laying pretty well. When we have lots of bad weather they usually get disgruntled and laying becomes skimpy. It's probably because we've felt sorry for them and have brought them a ton of treats. I've likely given them half a loaf of bread in the last week. They love their carbs and I'm a sucker when it comes to them being stuck outside in the elements.

Non-chicken owners roll their eyes and laugh at me. I know they're chickens and they've lived outside forever. And it's not like we have a high tech set up for our chickens or anything. We don't have electricity in the coop. We don't have automatic feeders or waterers or chicken coop doors. We don't have a heater or a waterer that has a defrosting mechanism. Our girls get the basics. A coop, a fenced in run, a hanging feeder, a hanging waterer, and a small chick waterer (We got one when we had chicks and the big girls loved it, so we just keep it out there for them and fill it up when it gets empty. Apparently, it has the best water because they drink it right up.). I still think of them as pets though and hate that they get stuck out in the rain or cold or snow and ice. If we had a garage I can bet you I'd have them in there in the snow and when we have torrential downpours. So what if I have a flock of spoiled chickens?

The thing chicken owners know is the more spoiled the chicken, the better the eggs!