Yesterday we moved the chickies to their grown-up home: the chicken coop. This was not as simple as it sounds, because the coop needed significant work before it could be deemed habitable for our chicken family.
We began with a major cleaning. The previous owner had removed all the used bedding before she left, but the coop hadn't been scrubbed in a long, long time. So wearing masks and rubber gloves and long sleeves and pants, we spent the day with the power washer and scrub brushes, cleaning out all the petrified chicken poop stuck to the walls and floor.
The worst (if you have a sensitive constitution you may want to skip to the next paragraph) was cleaning behind the nest boxes: there was a gap between the boxes and the wall where the chickens would sit and shit, so there were about six inches worth of poop needing removal. Yuck. Kim being Kim, she fixed the problem by attaching an extra board (a nicely rustic one) to cover the gap. It looks so good you can hardly tell it's a recent addition.
The coop took about three days to dry out, at which point it was time to whitewash. Whitewash is the traditional way to paint the inside of animal enclosures: it's cheap, easy to make and apply, and when it dries it fills all the little holes insects live in. There are many recipes for traditional whitewash, some with 12 steps and many ingredients, and some with one step and two ingredients: hydrated lime (not the lime you would use in the garden) and water. We opted for the simple approach. It took us a bit of trial and error to get the proportions right - it ended up being thicker than water, but not as thick as paint, which made it very messy when we slapped and slopped it all over the inside of the coop. Goggles, hats and gloves were important, because it can be irritating to the skin. It didn't look so white when we applied it, but when we came back the next day it was practically blinding.
Yesterday Kim spent the day covering assorted knotholes with hardware cloth to keep out rodents that might be attracted by the chickies' food, fixing a few loose boards, replacing the rusted out hinges and latches on the people door and the chicken door, installing a full-size waterer and feeder, and stringing a 100 foot extension cord from the workshop to provide the power for heat lamps. About supper time we moved the chickies from the chicken tractor where they'd been hanging out for the day, into the coop. The photo at the top of the blog makes it look like they're huddled under the heat lamp for survival, but in reality they were just a little freaked out by us treading in their territory, trying to adjust the height of the waterer. When we checked on them at bedtime they were busy eating and pecking and scratching and pooping, just like little chickies should.
Now, this business of chicken TV. Not chickens on TV, but chickens being TV. When you pop by to see how the chickens are doing and then realize it's two hours later and you've done nothing but watch the little birds as they go about the business of being chickens, well, that's chicken TV. I didn't fully appreciate the phenomenon until two days ago when Kim spent most of the day in a Muskoka chair parked beside the chicken tractor...just watching.