On Tuesday 6th December I went onto Twitter for the usual #ChickenHour chat, only this time, we all really needed each other. DEFRA announced a 30 day prevention zone to protect birds from avian flu in Europe and since this news my twitter feed has been full of the chicken community posting about what it might mean and what we can do for our birds.

On Wednesday I went into work and nearly everyone I bumped into asked me if my chickens were in the house. Our pet birds have to be kept away from wild birds either by being inside, or adequate outside cover. The way this was mentioned on the radio however was ‘all birds to come inside’ and so my colleagues and the friends who text me all pictured my hens running about the house! (Read on, it might still happen….)

Everyone on twitter has been so supportive in giving ideas and posting links on how to protect our feathery children. The chicken community on twitter is always so wonderful. A real case of like-minded people just helping out and caring about others, sending hen hugs when we have a sad loss, posting pictures to each other, it really restores my faith in social media, it isn’t all trolls and that fills me with a little bit of happy.

So, how are Hamilton’s Hens doing with all this? I finished work early on Wednesday so I could get home to put a tarpaulin over the cage. That didn’t happen. Instead with the hour of daylight left I shifted everything from the conservatory, put the tarpaulin on the floor and bought the hens in!  Three hens were scooped up reasonably easily, Batman however did not comply. I couldn’t pick her up, I couldn’t lure her into a cat carrier with corn, but I could wait until it got dark, she went to bed and stole her away! The purple turtle I recently acquired from freecycle for future hentertainment was utilised as somewhere for the girls to scratch. It was all set up for a temporary home for a few days and today, Thursday, was a joyful mess!

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The girls being so close means they get some tasty corn treats:

The girls are quite confused about all of this, but I am just keeping them in the conservatory for a few days so I can sort out their outside home. Today has been a no egg day. The first no egg day pretty much since records began, since 24th December 2015! They must be holding on tight because they don’t know where to egg! Poor confused girls. I should be able to get them back outside tomorrow. Today’s preparations involved:

  • Totally covering the top of the run with tarpaulins. This is to ensure no wild birds sit on the top or poop as they fly over and contaminate the coop. We can’t however guarantee no side-pooping occurs! (Climbing was involved, this was dangerous!).
  • Sectioning off the L-shaped piece with the play house for ease of covering. (I know it means less space, but it means more manageable).
  • Scraping up all current woodchips and poop. Messy and smelly, yay!
  • Hosing down everything and giving the eglu a thorough scrub.
  • I used poultry shield spray and sprinkled disinfectant powder over the floor.
  • Left it to dry.

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Hopefully before work in the morning I can put the eglu back together and the hens can return home, and maybe lay an egg! I could wait until Saturday morning but they clearly are feeling uneasy right now. The cage panels I have are 2″ x 1″ mesh, and although i’ve only seen a blue tit sneak through once, it does mean it’s a possibility and so I have more work to do. I figure I will try and put some net up on Saturday, the benefit of happy hens is outweighing the small risk that a tiny bird could get in on Friday and so I think that’s for the best given the other precautions i’ve taken. Also, my windowledge of plants has taken a beating and we have some squashed succulents and broken pots, and chickens really can poop a lot, the idea of house hens is definitely off the cards now.

So my dear hens, sleep well on your temporary ottoman for a bed and hopefully tomorrow you’ll be home. Two days down, twenty-eight to go.

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Mother of Hens x

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