Monday, November 5, 2012

Major Coop/Run Cleanout

We spent a whole day this weekend working on the coop/run. It felt really nice to get some of that work done, stuff I'd been eying for a year now.

When I build the combined coop/run 3 years ago, we placed it in about the only spot we could in the back yard. It sits on a patch of dirt bordered on two sides by cement, one side by a small paver patio and the back wall is up against the fence at the back of our yard. Between the fence and the coop's back wall is about a foot of space, and in the middle of that is the old 2x8 that made up the back of the planter box I built about 12 years ago in that very spot. We left the back board there on purpose when we tore out most of the rest of the box and installed the coop.

Well, one unintended consequence was that litter from within the coop/run (bits of hay, feathers, food, dirt, pebbles, poo, etc.) worked their way through the 1/2" wire mesh and began to pile up between the coop and the back board of the old planter box. After a couple of years this pile was about 8" high and it basically kept water and dirt in contact with parts of the run. I never liked that, but I also knew it would be incredibly hard to move to coop to clean it out back there.

But this weekend we planned on mucking out the run and doing a bunch of other cleanup in the area. My wife looked at the coop and wondered aloud if we could nudge it a tiny bit over for some reason. We tried and it turned out to not be too difficult to move.

So we sprang into action. Soon we had the coop out in the middle of the lawn and we cleaned up the back. The run hadn't started rotting so it looks like we managed to avoid that. Phew! We completely filled our compost bin with the debris we raked and shoveled out.

The birds were not amused.

Then, before we put it back into place we attached 2x8 boards along the bottom on the back and left side so that debris wouldn't work its way out as much (chickens will scratch, and fling stuff out regardless, but this should make a dramatic difference.

Then we ran to the store and bought some metal rain gutter and attached it along the back side of the coop. Originally, when we put the coop in place, we figured the rain would run off and then fall between the fence and the back board of the old planter box and just soak in to the ground or run off somewhere.

But what was really happening was the water was seeping into the run. So this gutter will redirect the water to the pumpkin box I built to the left of the run earlier this year. Perfect!

When I left for work our giant compost pile was up close to 120F and I'm sure it'll be hotter by the time I get home tonight.

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