I have spent a lot of time with my chickens over the last few years. I believe that if you are going to have animals, you need to take care of them. Whatever that means, you do it. I get irritated with people who constantly compare their domesticated animals with wild animals. You know the ones. They say things like,"Animals in the wild don't have this or that. They do just fine." Yes, there is some truth in that statement. Funny thing about animals in the wild...they know what they need and have a way to deal with it. An example, wild horses don't live in barns. Wild horses also don't live in fenced in acreage. Wild horses can move, as needed, with the weather to manage their own needs. I would bet you a dollar that when it is cold and windy, wild horses can be found in an area with a wind block. Not everyone can have a barn. I get that. Just stop and think about the animals that you have and do your best to give them what they need. Can you tell that gets my feathers ruffled a bit? Irritating.
I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my chickens need. I have read a lot of books. I have tried a lot of things from said books. There are different roosts, coop configurations, nesting boxes, feeders, etc. It can get real over-whelming if you aren't careful. What I have found to be consistent with my girls...try it, then they will let you know what they think about it. I read a book that raved about a particular roost. I built one. They hated it. Absolutely refused to use it. I built nesting boxes and placed them strategically around my coop. I imagine they like privacy during such an event as egg laying. They go through cycles of which boxes they use. There are always a few that become prime real estate. I have watched them literally fight over a particular nest when there are three just like it right next to it. Why? No idea! It is just what they do.
I have added 18 hens to the flock. I am actually calling them hens now because six of them have started laying. So, in the interest of happy chickens, I took a day to re-evaluate the coop and their working area. This upset a lot of girls that were on the clock. Apparently, they don't like any interruptions to their daily routines. I was thoroughly cussed out on more than one occasion, but I have pretty thick skin, so I continued with my work. I ended up moving a nesting box that no one had used in forever. Thinking that possibly a new location would make it a more attractive work space. This was fun, in the fact that I was working alone. Not so easy to hold something in place with one hand and try to use the drill to attach it to a new location with the other hand. All the while, chickens are running around trying to figure out what you are doing. Then I worked on a little expansion of three nests. Converting it into a two story work station and doubling the nests.
I used to load up and head to the big city before these renovations to load up on supplies. Not this time. Wrangling chickens for a couple of years has taught me that they don't really care how things look or if something is new. The facts are, when given a chance, they will poop on it anyway. It is just the way they roll. No one can accuse them of being materialistic. So, I proceeded to inventory all the left-over scrap material from other projects, and went to work. There was no real measuring happening. There was no real plan. I just had an idea of how it should go, and did it. It certainly wasn't my finest work. Let's just say, "It ain't pretty, but it works." Sorry, but I find when you rig things, you are required to speak about them that way. I also added a few new roosts and moved some feeders. Giving everyone the room they need.
Moving the furniture around in the house is one thing. Moving the furniture around in someone else's house is totally different. So far, so good. They seem to be utilizing most of their space. I do need to add more nests, but may go a completely different route next time. I think I am interested in lighter, easier to clean materials at this stage of the game. I will keep you posted on what I come up with.
It was back breaking work and I broke a lot of rules that day. For one, I did not have my gloves. I was also too lazy to go get them. I also cut lumber without safety glasses. I know. Would it make it any better if I closed my eyes when I cut lumber without safety glasses? Well, I did. The whole time I kept thinking that OSHA was going to start banging on the barn door. Or worse, the Man in Charge was going to pull up and catch me. Also, ever-present in my mind, the fact that reporting an injury to you was going to come with a huge dose of ridicule. I am so sorry I pranked you. Please, please, forgive me? Call me stupid. Call me stubborn. Call me whatever you like. I did it anyway, and while I don't recommend it, I can still count to ten with my very own eyes.