A sh**** day

Well, yesterday was a less than glamorous one on the farm — we dealt with s*** all day. Literally.

The first part of the day wasn’t bad. But the septic tank pump truck was here to kick off the day’s theme. It was a planned appointment — this time — at least. And we managed to check off this important task before winter cold settles in.

The afternoon, though, was a different story. Jeff’s been working a ton and I’ve been keeping a running list of things we need to get done in the coming weeks and months to be handled as we have time. On that list was shoveling out the chicken run.

I think you see where this is going.

About six inches of chicken poop mixed with shavings and hay had built up in the run and it’s been a very rainy fall, making it quite hazardous getting in and out of the coop to feed and water the laying hens.

Last winter, we were socked in with so much ice, I was using an ax to chop it away from the coop. I’ve been having visions of the ground inside the run freezing solid, partially based on the waterer being frozen together earlier this week. The weather forecast called for rain today (it was right) and snow at the end of the week, so I figured it was prime time to complete this task before things got soaked further and possibly frozen.

For now, our layers are mostly confined to a coop and run. This is because we have a huge number of predators including weasels, hawks, foxes and eagles. And those are just the ones we’ve seen … I hope to let the chickens out more often to range on the property going forward. But, as they say, winter is coming and these birdies like the mostly snow-free protection of the covered run.

After about an hour, we finished cleaning up the run and putting down a fresh layer of pine shavings for the birds. It was worth it but back-breaking labor. While we shoveled and pitch-forked — hunched over because the roof is only about 5 1/2 feet high from gravel (remember there also was about six inches of shud/shay too!) — we talked about our plans for a new coop and a new flock of layers. The 10 girls I have are now 3 years old so egg production is dropping off. (We expect to keep the old coop as a “retirement home” for the birds that are no longer producing eggs.) Jeff’s plan to to make one end of the new coop and run accessible with the tractor, so we can scoop with the bucket instead of shoveling and pitch-forking so much.

Then, after that fun, we moseyed over to the barn next door to clean out the pen where I started my meat birds earlier this year. That was a much more pleasant, and much less aromatic, endeavor.

The upside of all this s***? I’m going to have some great compost after a while.

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