A little while ago you might remember that I
mentioned banged on for weeks about my chickens arriving at the Nest and about us stepping bravely into the world of back garden smallholding….just call me Barbara Good.
We got our girls in January, in the middle of that horrid weather and flooding and I had done a LOT of obsessive research about how best to situate these ladies in our back garden. I decided on a plastic hen-house and run combination, because of red mite….a pesky bug that lives in the cracks and crannies of hen housing and sucks the blood of your chooks. Having plastic housing that is quick and easy to clean was going to be a bonus in my already hectic lifestyle, and they easier it is to clean, the less chance red mite have of settling in.
I decided to situate them in a fixed position on the old concrete base of the asbestos shed that we had removed last year…I know…who makes a ruddy shed out of asbestos eh? We’ve pinned the run down using some old fence posts that were replaced during all the storms. Waste not want not in this house!
Our chooks run floor is covered in hardwood chips which I have to buy in…I tried softwood, but it just rots down too quick. Hardwood chips can be washed and chucked back in, which means we spend less! We also check the weather ALL THE TIME now, if rain is forecast I go and cover the run with the clear Omlet run cover and a bit of tarp….chickens have the same consistency as the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz….ok…they don’t melt, but the run gets pretty grotty if it gets wet.
Omlet, who make the Eglu, seemed to be the best company out there, and I loved the smooth rounded design…it reminded me of a hobbit hole…also they hold their value and they seem pretty indestructible when it comes to knocks and bruises. We bought ours 3rd hand from a couple of die-hard chickeneers (they’d gone from 6 chooks to 500!) and updated it by buying new bits from the Omlet website as the Classic design is still running strong. I reckon I could flog ours in 3 years and still make back what I paid.
Don’t misjudge how big they are though…I managed to SQUEEEEEZE it into our teeny tiny Aygo, but with much brute force and ignorance. You need an real car and not a glorified rollerskate to go and collect one of these bad boys….however if you buy new from Omlet they deliver, along with your chickens if you are in their chicken radius!
Our day-to-day chicken routine takes me 10 minutes at most. I check they have enough food and water for the day, I whack on some rubber gloves and try to pick out any poop I can spot, I give the hardwood chips a rake over and I collect the eggs. It’s all quite glamourous I can assure you.
When I am doing a full deep clean…which I only do once every 6 weeks or so, it takes me around 45 minutes from start to finish (and that includes drying time!). The best thing I have found is that I can pressure wash it!
I used hand ripped paper for the nest box as this was something we had kicking around for free. Junk mail, old receipts and old magazines are a firm staple for our chicken bedding. It doesn’t take as much time to rip all the paper as you might think. We are now in the habit of ripping stuff up before it goes into the bin so it takes a few seconds!
The Eglu has a removable dropping tray, which some people line with wood shavings, but I line it with junk mail and old magazine pages. They soak up the poop nicely and then I can tip the lot into the composter once a week. Easy peasy. I then just reline it and slot it back in! Hurrah! If it has got a bit filthy it takes two minutes to rinse and then can be left in the sun to dry…which takes about 5 minutes. Easy.
We never close our pophole during the week, but on a Friday and Saturday night we do shut them in overnight as our girls like to have a good old squawk at around 8am, and we feel bad for our neighbours trying to get a lie in on a weekend!
Most of the time they are pretty quiet. They like perching on the old washing up bowl I have popped in there and pecking through whatever garden goodies I have thrown in.
The Omlet Glug and Grub are the food and water containers and they function mightly well. They hook to the run wall leaving floor space empty. The best thing about the Glug is you can fill it from a watering can through the bars meaning you don’t have to have it right up the end of the run, which gives your chooks a little more space I think.
Whenever I am home, I try to get the chickens out for a bit of a free-range around the garden. Chekhov still thinks they are exciting chew toys so has to be kept away when they are out and about. He has however improved amazingly with them being in the run. He almost ignores them completely now and has protected them from several nosey cats!
I don’t think I could be swayed to change to another form of hen keeping now…except for upgrading to a Eglu Cube for expansion! 😀
Have you ever thought about keeping chickens? The eggs are bloomin marvellous!