Off to the paddock we go!

April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

On last Sunday (April 7th) we moved the flock up the back into a new enclosure in the back paddock. Poppy and her three daughters are in the small end of the Summer Palace run, living in the batch house. The other hens are in the Summer Palace proper, and the boys are staying in the Combine, fattening. The hope is that Poppy et al will get their aggro over and out of their systems, so that we can look to combine the two flocks into one.

The run is quite a good one – nice and big, and on fresh grass. But the thing that has caused the most happy bok-boking is … The Pile.

Before we moved in, the previous owners had quite a bit of tree-work done, and had left a big pile of woodchips. (Actually several piles, but this is the last of them.) As you can imagine, after three years it has broken down beautifully, (not completely, but still quite lusciously). We’d removed a couple of spade-fuls from it to use as mulch when we first arrived, but it had been left to its own devices the rest of the time. So it was Chicken Nirvana – full of invertebrates, and perfect texture for vigorous scritching.

It took them about 36 hours, but they had the pile pretty much leveled by Tuesday evening. Actually that’s not true. “Leveled” implies flattened, made even. What they actually did was dig many many pits, some underneath other pits (which were still in progress at the time). At one point it was possible to get quite close and not be able to see chickens. That’s how many (and how deep) pits we’re talking. One of the jobs in te evening was to count beaks, to make sure no-one had been buried by over-enthusiastic scritching. (No casualties.)

But one was missing. The most fiercesome scritcher of them all – Ella. As is so often the case, moulting had triggered Ella’s (seemingly annual) crop impaction, so she only got a couple of hours in the new run before she was whisked back to the house, to be crop-tubed apple sauce and kept away from grass. Poor darling spent the week inside, and was only reintroduced on Friday afternoon.

As well as The Pile, there are also two other piles of bark, (one in each run), which should provide the girls with good invertebrate hunting. I don’t expect the grass to last long, but it’s very picturesque in there while it does.

Adelaide, Ella, Erica and Lily in the paddock run Unleashing Hell on the pile – Neroli, Dorothy, Holly, Claire and ImogenOlivia, moulting, April 2013

Ella with aglets, April 2013 Poppy with Mirri and Charlotte, chcking out the other flockErica moulting, April 2013

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