Many people want to do what we do. A house in the country, taking care of a couple of goats, a flock of chickens, and a Daddy who farms is the dream of many American families. Getting your own fresh eggs from the backyard seems so ideal.
This is the reality.
Because fresh eggs require live chickens, and live chickens must be feed and watered everyday, in cold, heat, wind and rain. So then the chickens poop. Constantly.
On top of that, life happens. A few weeks ago I noticed the hens were going through a lot of water. Then I realized why. Their waterer, which rests on a heated base, was leaking down onto the base and seeping under the layer of straw and poo. By the time I figured this out I had 9 inches of soggy, wet, manure.
It smelled just like it sounds it would.
First thing was to let the chickens out for recess.
Or that’s what they act like when you open their gate!
Then we shoveled all the manure into the wagon and wheelbarrow and took it down to the garden boxes.
Although nasty smelling and very heavy, sopping wet chicken litter is fantastic garden compost. You have to plan ahead, however, because chicken litter can also burn plants. It needs to decompose for a few months– which is perfect because our last frost date.
It took two days, but Brett and I finally hauled all that mess out of the coop and down to the garden. Since the coop doesn’t have heat I don’t clean it out during the winter, using the process of decomposing to create a layer of heat on the floor. We haven’t seen the bottom of this mess since last fall!
We’d usually fill the laying boxes and the floor with straw (the stem of a stalk of wheat) but we didn’t have a wheat harvest this year, so we used hay (grass cut in the summer and dried for animals to eat in the winter) the goats had already picked over. Goats are seriously picky animals and won’t eat hay that’s been on the floor or that they’ve laid on. Which means we have lots of extra. 😛
The funniest part was hearing those crazy girls after putting down their new hay. They make So Much Noise!
“Cackle, cackle, cackle, did you see this new flooring? It adds so much texture to the room, don’t you think?!”