Time management and chickens

A hen exits the coop through the automatic door
A hen exits the coop through the automatic door

I spent a lot of time with the chickens today. More time than I expected. More time than is usual for a Saturday.

See, my usual school-day routine is to peek in on the birds before driving my daughter to the bus stop. When I get back, I fill feeders, check waterers and refill if needed. Usually I have a “treat” bucket of scraps from the house to disperse, maybe some dried crushed eggshells or sunflower seeds as well. I gather any eggs that are in the nest boxes. Check mineral supplements and refill. Then I hang out a bit and watch. You can learn a lot by hangin’ with the birds. I’m usually inside eating breakfast half an hour later.

Well, today is Saturday. I thought I’d allow myself to sleep in to the decadent hour of 7:45am. In my defence, I had had a fitful sleep, dreaming about making egg salad and waking to the realization that learning the ins and outs of blogging was definitely not coming along as easily as I had expected. I managed to drape a towel over my head to block the dawn and didn’t get to the birds until an hour later than usual.

Mobile chicken coop with rain water collection
A fine feature of our moveable coop is rainwater collection and dispersal through drinkers located below the nest boxes.

This is not a problem for the chickens. Their coop door opens and closes with the sun. They can get outside and scratch and peck right away. Also, I fill their feeder before lifting it into their coop for the night. Nobody seems to remember this once the door is open, they are all outside eating grass and bugs. The watering system takes care of itself now that the temperatures are above freezing (knock on wood.)

But as usual with me, once I go astray from my routine, it’s hard to remember exactly how things get accomplished. I had to go back inside for the treat bucket – you should have seen the stink eye I got, going through the gate empty handed. Going inside means boots pulled off, then after running up and down a flight of steps, pulled on again.

Back outside, I have to keep calling the dog away from the recently vacated chicken paddock. Despite having tarps on the most heavily used areas, she cannot resist the temptation. Repeatedly. So I play a little stick and some ball with her. Why not a short walk down the lane while we are at it?

China lays an egg. Looks like the nest box next door is very popular. With golfers.
China lays an egg. Looks like the nest box next door is very popular. With golfers.

Returning fifteen minutes later, I realize I haven’t gathered the eggs yet. And then I found it. The broken egg. Now I have to clean out the nest box including decoy wooden eggs and check the other boxes. Thankfully, no more signs of breakage elsewhere. Check all chickens for incriminating yolk faces. Nope. Go inside again for a bowl of milk – reputed to stop egg eating by a hurried Google search. Boots on, out the door.

The dog looks suspicious and I see she has one of the wooden eggs in her mouth. If I put down the milk and chase her, she’ll just deke me out and steal the milk. So take the milk bowl into the chickens. They go nuts and I check the nest boxes again. I can tell I’m going to become obsessive about this. A sharp command gets the dog to drop her toy egg. Milk…eggs…did I have breakfast yet?

Honestly, I was running around like a chicken with its head…

fresh eggs wiarton
The beautiful assortment of eggs we collect from our mixed flock of heritage hens.