Yesterday since the weather was bordering on spring-like, my parents came over and we made the repairs to the chicken coop and pen.
The first snow of this past winter had drastically damaged the pen area and a few temporary repairs were made to get us through the chilly months. But now that the weather is starting to turn, the ladies refuse to be cooped up any longer. They have started fighting amongst themselves and feathers have been flying - literally. It was time that they had their full pen back.
Mom took over little man duties and Roy and Dad went to work removing the temporary mesh roof from the pen and removing all the dividers, ropes, cable ties, 2x4's, and other "grab what you can to brace the pen" materials. I was relegated to supervising since I have the energy level of paperweight right now. Add that to the nausea from the morning sickness and I was good for about 45 minutes of "helping" and I was back on the couch. On a side note, this is pretty much my day: sleep, rest, try to eat, run to the bathroom, rest from exerting energy running to the bathroom, roll matchbox cars with little man, sleep, try to eat.......
Back to the chicken repairs - after all the material was removed, they used a come-along left over from our chain link fence days at the old house and straightened up the corner posts. Then we used long metal stakes and some short 2x4's to pound into the ground to brace the corner posts in place. This worked well and it helped to put some tension back in the fencing which had been severely sagging.
With the corner posts fixed and made stable, we were then able to run the rope in a big cross to hold up the netting that would go across the top. We pounded a tall 2x4 into the ground in the center of the pen, about a foot higher than the corner posts. I was afraid this would make it look like the circus had come to town and was camping in my yard but it turned out fine and there is less sagging of the netting this way.
We used the stronger netting that we purchased for the repairs. This netting should last longer since it is much more durable and we know that they snow goes through it instead of collecting on top and putting too much weight on the corner posts.
Finally, we spread two large bales of straw on the ground which they had become completely bare of any grass, to give the girls something to occupy their time. Two bales covered the whole pen nicely and we will add more during the spring and summer as we need to. It also makes the pen area look much better and it helps keep down the mud.
The girls, who had been clucking at us the whole time from the windows, where let out into their new pen and they loved it. Room to roam and half-fly around, and tons to scratch around in. Their mood was much improved.
Next was to clean out all the straw and poop from the coop that had been building up all winter. Not a pretty job and I was lucky that my Dad and Roy handled it this year. We removed all the nest boxes, feeders and fonts, and we cleaned it all out. New straw was put down and the nest boxes were moved to now face the back of the coop where it was darker and the girls had more privacy in which to lay their eggs. I had placed the boxes in the bright light from the windows that they had been laying in the straw in the corner and under the nest boxes. This morning revealed that they were all back to laying in the boxes.
Having this project done is a huge weight off our shoulders, and it was a distraction from the sadness of this past week. I kept expecting to turn around and see her out in the yard with us, checking out the situation and sniffing for things to eat. I washed and put away her food bowls yesterday. And my snowdrops are blooming.