Welcome to Pig Row, Mrs Cluckerbuck, Bert and Gene Simmons. It's hard to explain the naming of chickens, but we'll try, often it is a gut reaction or by just watching them, or in the case of Gene Simmons driving home in the worst rain possible with a silkie in the boot clucking along to Kiss. Voila! Gene Simmons is born. God gave rock 'n roll to you but a downpour that turned the streets of Saddleworth into the waterways of Venice gave rise to a rock god in a chicken coop. We have yet to find out what gender he is, he may be a cockerel, he may not, he may have been on his way to being eaten by a python, he may have not. Either way they are saved and with us at Pig Row but we can't just sling them in the garden. Actually we slung them in the glasshouse and boy did they get rid of the weeds and manured the beds. In just over a week they destroyed the chickweed, ate the remaining lettuces and pooped their little hearts out. They have taken to Carol, she with lamp or torch, that shows up to make sure they are okay at night. Meanwhile Andrew is in the house waiting for Batman! No! Kaboom! Kapow! Making a chicken coop! Who said middle age was dull? It's full of chickens and back supports.
Some may say that we should have made our own chicken coop but let's face some sad facts, we could have gone out and bought, foraged and bartered for wood but this would have taken time and time folks is money! So, they say. However, for £99 including delivery and a run we got rather a good little coop which will house around 3-4 birds.
We plan to make the run much bigger next year, building it ourselves, but in the meantime we want to tuck them behind the house, on a solid surface to keep out Mr Fox, Mrs Fox and all the fox clan. However, we did have some yacht varnish and stain knocking about so we have varnished inside the coop - two times - to make it easier to clean and proceeded to stain the outside of the coop - one time...
...yes, we are channeling our inner Goth to bring a little of The Cure, Bauhaus and Siouxsie to the new chickens. Mrs Cluckerbuck is not impressed, Bert just stares at us and Gene Simmons is all for excessive makeup. So, from flat pack to coop in just over a week.
The bricks are another fox deterrent unless the fox family are builders, and in that case we're screwed and they have bricks to build a new detached house to make their dinner in. We did however go for a new type of roof, a weather proof plastic rather than the usual felt or wood shingles (sounds like something Pinocchio got in middle age) because we have an eye to mite and mites are a devil to eradicate in felt roofs, it basically ends up with you removing the felt and burning it. Hence the two coats of yacht varnish too. We'd like to say that the story ends here, however as you remember the chickens are in the glasshouse. Cue Andrew and Little D.
Andrew and Little D have the job of catching the chickens. After ten minutes there's no sign of them but you can hear Little D roaring with laughter and Andrew doing his swearing round kids thing, 'Oh, fudge it', 'Dang it', and our favourite, 'Codswobble'. They all sound rather filthy from a distance, like a clown having a breakdown in a lingerie store. Ten minutes more and they show up, Andrew is flustered, hair on end, clutching Gene Simmons under his arm, they only thing he says is, 'They're faster now'. Little D roars with laughter again telling me how Daddy had to crawl under the staging to get them and how they ran over him and jumped off his bum. The usual stuff. Another ten minutes and Bert the cockerel shows up and in record time, a mere two minutes, Mrs Cluckerbuck joins them with Andrew looking like no chicken will ever mess with him again.
This certainly comes to light when at night they refuse to go up into the nesting box. By torchlight, Andrew reaches in and grabs them one at a time and puts them into the nesting box*
The straw is now down, the mealworms are scattered and the chickens are very happy as you can hear here.
* please note that no chickens were harmed at during this move. They were merely, lightly, sworn at.