Cleaning out the C$*@# and Chicken Parenting Round 2

Cleaning out the C$*@# and

Chicken Parenting Round 2

Hello friends, spring is rolling in fast here on the homestead and we are struggling to keep up. With the rise in temperatures, it was time to clean out the duck house and chicken coop. The garden is in terrible need of preparation and planting. Plus, we had to finish getting ready for our new chicks that arrived this week, now we are fully engaged in chicken parenting round 2!

Chicken Parenting Round 2

Last time I talked about the bulk of our chicken brooder build. Since our chicks would be born and ready to pick up on March 9th we couldn’t dawdle! The worst part of this build was all the tinkering with the small details that finish it off. Yet we managed to finish it with time to spare. Plus I was able to help our good neighbor build an almost identical one in roughly 5 hours! Knowing what you are doing makes a big difference!

Finished mini-brooder.
Our finished mini brooder ready for chicks.

On March 9th Sarah, Abby, and the kids went to the hatchery and returned with 55 baby chicks! 7 knew layers, Sarah is addicted to multicolored eggs, and 48 meat birds. The chicks quickly went into the brooder and our chicken parenting adventure began! Technically, we have been chicken parents before. Last year we raised nearly 70 birds. This year we are doing this differently. For one, we have an outdoor brooder and not a giant box in the house (it was cute at first but it turns out chicks are noise and messy). Second, this batch is predominantly meat birds where last year we mainly did laying hens.

Ultimately with the outdoor brooder, a chicken coop, and plans for a chicken tractor we feel much more prepared for our second round of chicken parenting! Plus baby chicks are really cute.

Our new chicks explore their new home.
Our new chicks explore their new home. Chicken parenting!

Cleaning out the C$*@#

It turns out 40 chickens generate a lot of poop over a 6 month period. Which tends to pile up in the coop. Especially when a polar vortex hits and the chickens stay in the coop for almost two weeks straight. Now that things are warming up, we had no choice but to deal with the mounding poop before things got ugly.

The duck house

We started with the duck house and pond. Turns out ducks are dirty too, and they really dirty up water. After draining the water from their tank, which we used to fertilize some trees, a nice layer of sludge was left. Once that was cleaned up and the tank refiled it was time to muck out the house!

Unlike chickens, ducks don’t roost, so if they poop in their house they then just trample it down into the bedding. The result, you can’t really tell how much poop is in the house. So pitchfork in hand I waded into the mess. Which really wasn’t that bad. Most of the poop carpet came out fairly easily. The main exception was in the far back where the carpet was thickest and most difficult to break apart. I now know that duck poop functions a lot like clay when mixed with stray and you can get some really solid building material that way. If you are desperate enough to use duck poop to make bricks that is.

The chicken coop

Next up was the chicken coop. The chicken coop would have been easy to clean if the pile of poop under the roost wasn’t two feet deep. It is true, I’m ashamed to admit it but that’s how much poop we had let pile up! As I’m sure you can imagine moving that much material out from under a roost was not quick nor pleasant. After removing the waste we also installed some of the old paneling from the mother-in-law house to help protect the wall studs from being emersed in that much junk again.

With the siding in place and new bedding down the chicken coop looks much better. Plus we don’t have to feel guilty about our chickens living in filth for a while! Win win maybe!?

Chicken coop full of c$*@#Chicken coop after being cleaned.
Comparison of chicken coop before vs after cleanup!

Our garlic survived!

Last fall we planted garlic. It was our first time planting a fall garlic crop but we went big (planted 103 bulbs) and hoped for the best. Last week we pulled the straw covering off the garlic and …. found 97 garlic sprouts. This week most of them are several inches tall and looking great! We couldn’t be happier with this and will probably plant garlic this way forevermore!

The fall garlic survived.
Our crop of fall garlic survived the winter and is growing strong.

This week we also planted out some Jerusalem Artichokes and started planning out the rest of our garden beds. We still have a lot of work to do in the garden before we can start planting this year. This week we hope to finish planning out the beds and start prepping to get our spring crops planted!

While working in the garden we also stumbled upon some pleasant surprises. Some of last years failed onions and garlic bulbs decided to grow and are looking good, plus we have kale and chard that survived the winter and are still growing strong! With a little planning next year we may be able to gather kale and chard all winter long! Imagine fresh vegetable greens in December!

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