Yesterday saw an annual ritual take place in our backyard, micro farm. Jimmy and I jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn (ok it was 9 am). We had our coffee and then set to work winterizing the back yard. I cleaned the coop and added about 6 inches of bedding to keep the girls warm. We do a deep litter thing in the coop. It means clean out the poop, but leave the old bedding and add new on top of it. By the time of spring cleaning there will be close to 14 inches of bedding in the coop. This is something you want to do if you don't have any heating or a lamp in your coop. The old bedding on the bottom generates heat and keeps the girls warmer. Its a good idea to sprinkle a little seven dust on the floor before the first layer. When I cleaned the coop last month it was a thorough cleaning and debugging so all I needed to do was clean out the poop and add new bedding. I also moved the ladder which HashTag uses as a perch, as far against the wall as I could. (bantams like a lower perch) cuz it was to close to the high perch and every now and then someone would manage to poo on her head in the middle of the night. Hash and the oldest girl were cuddled together nicely last night when I checked. The old grouchy one is now too old to get up on the high perch. All is well in the Hen house now. While I was doing this, Jimmy was busy covering the cat door in the fence and patching all points of excursion. Then we cleaned the yard and put away the lawn chairs and all other signs of summer. We put bird netting on the two winter beds ( which are still producing nicely). Jimmy cut his precious pepper plant off at the base and it is now drying in the kitchen with the other herbs. We walked the perimeter and policed the entire area for bits of plastic or wire that might be indigestible. Then we stood back, surveyed what we had done and decide it was time. The annual release of the prisoners could now commence. I got the camera and Jimmy opened the gate. HashTag was, of course, the first one to realize that freedom was beckoning and casually walked through the gate like it "weren't nothin'". She really does have chicken "Cool" down to an art. She kept looking behind her and when she realized the other girls didn't know the gate was open she calmly went back to tell them. Unlike Hash, the other girls got all excited, had some sort of chicken planning meeting and then they all lined up single file and marched out the gate with a dignity and ceremony we humans could only envy. I've seen them do this before and I am fascinated by it. They always seem to know it is an important moment and they take the time to acknowledge it. Interestingly enough, Elphie 'the fallen' took point and led everyone out. Prissy 'the benevolent' swept the rear. The only glitch to the annual parade was our grouchy old girl. She kept lagging behind getting distracted by dandelions and beetles. Finally the other girls just went back, surrounded her and escorted her through the the process. They hit all their favorite spots ...in order... and took about 5 minutes in each place. After about a half hour they had another chicken meeting, acknowledged that the ritual was complete, and went their separate ways. Last years ritual took almost an hour before they got to this point. I think this year they shortened it for the old girl cuz she just couldn't keep focused on the rite. And so it is done. The harvest is in and the girls are free-ranging. Drusilla has taken up her Lordly position atop the the Hot tub to watch over all, accordingly, as Jimmy and I sit in front of a warm fire enjoying the fruits of our labors.
Aaaahhhh... life is good.
Aaaahhhh... life is good.
|The intrepid HashTag, first on the scene.|
|Elphie 'the fallen' leading the way. Prissy 'the benevolent' sweeping the rear.|
|Barred Rock Elphie 'the fallen' and Leghorn Prissy 'the benevolent|
|Silkie 'the intrepid' HashTag|
|Jimmy's precious peppers hanging to dry|
|an empty prison|
|Jimmy patching a point of egress|