Friday 6 January was a day much anticipated at the barn; it was to be the day the chickens were released from incarceration to start pecking around the yard and garden once more, not to mention the poop that we’d once more be dodging. We were all really looking forward to it, particularly because we’d not actually seen the new ladies out and about that much, as it was the first day of release for them in their new home that the news of the avian flu broke. However, it wasn’t to be. On 4 January DEFRA released an update advising that poultry keepers need to continue to keep their birds separated from wild birds until 28 February, as avian flu continues to spread across the UK.
As you’d expect we were pretty dejected by the news, particularly because every time we now enter the coop the chickens are trying to make a break for freedom – particularly one of the new girls, who, when her breakout is foiled, follows us round the coop clucking and pecking at us and looking generally displeased. An angry chicken is a sight to behold – just not too closely.
However on the upside, the chickens do all seem to be getting along much better, despite my fears none have become Gollum like (yet) and the new girls are all growing back feathers that were missing when they moved in.
The dust bath hasn’t been much of a hit; one, we have perhaps unkindly, named Shortneck, seems to just sit in it all the time.
The football hasn’t garnered any interest, though a small yellow ballpool ball that has somehow made it in there gets the occasional peck.
We do however have a deep litter section of the coop which they all seem to enjoy scratting about in. We top this area up with moss that we’re currently clearing from a section of the yard, as well as leaves and occasional sections of turf to give them something to forage through. The food scraps we give them are also thrown into this area, and because the chickens are always scratching through it they keep it fresh and well turned – hopefully creating some good compost material for us.
But the long and short of it is, we have almost two more months to try and keep them entertained in their enclosure. J is currently working on a chicken wire cover for the door that will mean we can leave the door open for them in the day so they get a bit more light and fresh air (as well as tantalising views for them, and our cats), but there’s not an awful lot more we can for them. It does mean however I have a bit longer to get the garden sorted and chicken proofed ready for us to grow some veggies – and a bit longer before the chicken onslaught on my seedlings starts. Now we just have the cows and sheep to worry about.