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    • CommentTimeOct 26th, 2015 10:45am (Oct 26th 2015) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    Once again this weekend we found ourselves time-poor and didn't get chance to start on Helen's planned landscaping in the chicken coop until 8pm on Sunday, when it was completely dark!  I had to set up a flood-light (and put some blu-tak over the light sensor on the chicken coop door opener so it wouldn't let the hens out early!)

    Helen had bought some chicken-friendly plants earlier in the week and on Saturday we bought 3 bags of sand for their new dust-bath. 

    It's not finished yet - we have some natural branches to put in for the hens to hopefully perch on, and one of the plants was a bit big and covered the cam view!  But here's how it looked last night after we finished:

    And here's their new dust-bathing area complete with log perch/wall and plants:

    As well as their dust-bathing area they have a Rosemary plant (so they can self-stuff themselves!!) and a tall grass (which you can't see here), panaromic shot which might give you an idea of the layout:

     We waited with baited breath this morning to watch the hens explore their new features, but nobody has dared go into the sand yet (although Mabel did step into it and then hopped back out!) - let us know if you spot anyone in it!

    Here's Mabel and Leslie looking pretty!

    Not sure how long these plants will last!

    They have a little area behind the coop which will have plants too:


      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeOct 26th, 2015 4:27pm (Oct 26th 2015)
    Looks lovely, Neil! Can't see anyone in the dustbath though...
    • CommentAuthorollie in UK
    • CommentTimeOct 26th, 2015 11:02pm (Oct 26th 2015)
    Please may I move in???
    • CommentAuthorLynnW
    • CommentTimeOct 26th, 2015 11:10pm (Oct 26th 2015)
    It all looks lovely, Neil. I love the dust-bathing area.:face-smile:
    • CommentTimeOct 27th, 2015 10:23am (Oct 27th 2015) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    Thanks. :)

    It's nice that there's the room to add these little areas and different bits to explore. Last night Helen added a little bamboo fence to the rear bathing/planting area so that's getting there too!

    I added some DE to the sand and some more ash from our wood burning stove (apparently it's really good for the dust bathing area? - although someone else said it can cause burns when it gets wet as it's acidic - but I didn't add too much and they're nice and dry in there) - of course nobody has gone for a dust bath in there but I did see Renee jump in and start scratching sand everywhere and eating it! They'll get the hang of it eventually.

    They're very sweet hens though - especially Leslie and Mabel (who is my favourite!) - she's so small but so inquisitive and friendly - will take treats from my hand and comes over to see what I'm doing when I'm collecting their "presents" (no I'm not talking about eggs!) - she isn't too scared of getting stroked already. Leslie too - she will tolerate strokes on her back but wanders off as she isn't too sure.
    • CommentTimeOct 27th, 2015 7:04pm (Oct 27th 2015)

    Keeper of the hens

    I LOVE the dust bath fencing, they both look really good! The girls seem to enjoy having an additional perch too. It looks really lovely in there!
    • CommentTimeOct 27th, 2015 10:56pm (Oct 27th 2015)
    THey are very lucky hens!
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd, 2015 11:09am (Nov 2nd 2015) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    Trying to keep your chickens happy and healthy is an ongoing process and Helen has been enriching their coop with treat puzzle balls, hanging various veggies from string around the coop, planting interesting non-toxic plants and providing dust bathing areas (which of course they didn't use! I caught Renee dust bathing NEXT to the actual area they were supposed to be using one day...)

    The girls were initially on some lovely fresh turf - we knew it wouldn't last very long but it hasn't done too bad lasting nearly a month, but some bits were starting to look a bit worn and even worse, we had a week of pretty awful weather and the turf was acting like a sponge and soaking up so that when you stood on it, it seeped out in puddles!

    This wasn't great as it meant that it would eventually turn to mud, which is bad for hens with feathered feet (and we have three of those!)  If mud balls up in the feathers it can make it painful for the chickens to walk, and if it's too wet their feathers can become very messy...

    So Helen spent some time researching and along with Scarlet we decided that better drainage was definitely needed. The aim was to put some pea gravel down to create good drainage, and then top that with sand to give a nice surface for the hens to scratch in (it's also bug resistant and makes cleaning up easy too).

    9 bags of pea gravel later, we started to realise how big that damn coop is! There's six large bags of sand in there too. It's been an expensive weekend...

    But it seems to be working - their feet feathers look good and it's nice and easy to clean too!

    Of course when Helen was emptying their small (mostly unused) dust bathing area of sand, they all decided it was now the best place to dust bathe in the world...

    (Maude is in there somewhere...!)
    • CommentAuthorLynnW
    • CommentTimeNov 4th, 2015 7:50pm (Nov 4th 2015)
    They have such a great pen to live in now, Neil..they are lucky hens to have such a nice home.
    • CommentAuthornanny north
    • CommentTimeJan 14th, 2016 7:14pm (Jan 14th 2016)
    Wonderful new home for them all xxxx