The novelty of writing a blog has definitely worn off. Work has been busy and finding the time to write anything of interest has proven difficult. The novelty of extended working from home has also gone and the grim reality of a long, dark and cold winter has set in.
Despite this all we have made good progress on the chicken front. In a fit of lock down virtue I decided to demolish the old dog kennel and run that we had used for our chicken coop. When we first moved in, we thought this looked ideal. Pretty soon after, the challenge of keeping chickens in a building not designed for the purpose became apparent. Cleaning out was a laborious process that required full PPE. It wasn’t a job that could be done by my children so I ended up doing it – and resenting my chickens as a consequence.
Incredibly I was able to dismantle the steel cage and find someone who wanted it. The old wooden dog kennel was dispatched quickly with the only tool I have any confidence in using – the sledge hammer.
In parallel I had found on eBay an Omlet Cube Mk 2 chicken coop. I found myself drawn to the slick videos of how easy it was to clean, with happy children cleaning it on their own. This was selling the dream – not the shit covered reality I was living. I was slightly appalled at the cost of a new one direct from Omlet but went ahead anyway – only to discover thanks to Covid, the world and his wife were buying chickens and there was a two month wait for new ones. Instead I found a pretty decent second hand one on eBay for about the same price as the new one, such was the strength of the secondary market.
Within about 5 minutes of setting up my new Omlet it became apparent how brilliant it is. It is really easy to clean, my children can do it. Collecting the eggs is effortless and shutting them up at night took seconds. My old dog run and kennel involved physically climbing into the coop to collect eggs or clean. The hens seem happier too, I suspect because even though the coop is physically smaller, it has far more roosting space.
After a few months of ownership we decided to head down to Dorset for a long weekend. We didn’t want to trouble our neighbours so ordered the excellent automatic chicken door for the coop. This was a revelation. It opens and closes the coop door shortly after dawn or sunset. Hands free chicken keeping! While ideal for a weekend away, as the evenings have drawn in, it has made chicken keeping much easier and significantly reduces the risk of fox attack because we’ve forgotten to shut the coop door.
We’ve spent a collective fortune on our Omlet and automatic door but the overall improvement on keeping chickens is immeasurable. I no longer need to clamber into and awkward small shed and sweep up chicken poo or remember to put them to bed at night – throwing money at this particular problems has definitely been a good move.