Why That Darn Hen Won’t Use The Nest Box!

Portable chicken ark.

Portable chicken ark.

A couple of years back, my 3 hens moved from their portable Chicken Ark to some swanky digs here at City Boy Hens. It was kinda’ like the Jefferson’s, but this time it was my three hens who were “movin’ on up!”  The Portable Ark worked well, as it provided my hens with some space to “free range” and an upper level to roost and lay eggs,  but it was a pain in the butt to move around the yard each day.

So with hammer, nails, screws and wood,  I built them a home that was fit for Queens.  I meticulously constructed their coop/run; adding insulation, electricity and 2 nest boxes.  I know that some of you may think that the 2 nest boxes was overkill for three hens, but the last thing I wanted to do was make one of my girls have to wait in line in order to deposit her daily offering.  Besides, …….I know what it’s like at the cottage with only 1 bathroom.  Inventing a new dance move in front of a locked bathroom door is no way to start the day while a relaxed occupant casually thumbs through a 3-year-old  tattered magazine.

092Anyways…..I built 2 nest boxes for the hens and proceeded to line those boxes and the bottom of the coop with fluffy aromatic wood shavings.  The shavings in the nest box would make a great landing pad for the eggs and the shavings on the coop floor would make poop pickin’ up a whole lot easier.

As it turns out, Swifer, (YES IT IS THAT DAMN HEN AGAIN)  has chosen  to not make any distinction between the wood shavings in the nest box and those on the coop floor.  In fact, I think she feels the coop floor IS HER NEST BOX because she deposits her egg on the coop floor EVERY morning.  But worst of all, she had taught Rosie that this practice is acceptable.

I am proud to say that I have managed to “re-train” Rosie to use the nest box by  always keeping a plastic egg in one of the boxes, but Swifer ain’t gettin’ fooled by that trick.  In fact, she goes into the nest box and pecks that plastic egg until she has turfed it out on to the floor of the coop!

“OK Swifer…..it’s the beginning of a New Year and with it comes the opportunity to bid the past goodbye and  to start anew.  How ’bout you start laying that “ping-pong poor excuses you call an egg” up in the nest box and I’ll stop decorating the coop walls with pictures of great tasting chicken noodle soup recipes!  Deal?????????????????????”

I do have my doubts……..It’s hard to teach an old chicken new tricks!

Well…..as Meatloaf sang “Two out of 3 ain’t bad!”009

Happy New Year To All!

Don’t You Take Your Chickens On VACATION?

“Ok, lets load ’em up.  Honda And Swiffer….You know the routine.   Help Rosie along and make sure that she doesn’t get the spot beside Stanley.002  OK….everyone , stop fighting over the window seat.  Everyone strapped in?   Okay……lets head NORTH!”

The chickens are coming up to the cottage with us for the first time this season.  For Rosie, it will be a brand new experience because she wasn’t a member of City Boy Hens last summer.  Maybe it’s a brand new experience for the veterans as well.  I’m not sure what level of memory retention can be had when you only have a brain the size of a cashew nut.

So into the van we all went.  Wife, son, son’s friend, daughter, dog, 3 chickens and myself.027

The upside to bringing the chickens to the cottage is that I’ll have something to write about for  the blog and we will continue to enjoy farm fresh eggs at the cottage.  The down side is that 5 people and one dog, crammed into tight quarters with 3 chickens who are known for frequent defecation, may not be the best recipe for a pleasant 3 hour  drive on a humid evening.  It’s not too bad for my wife and myself because the chickens will be positioned behind our seats and our windows will be WIDE OPEN.  For the kids…it’s another matter.

Those rear windows in a mini van are not designed to roll down.  All that you can get in terms of ventilation is a slightly cracked window that only opens up an inch from the side.  I’m sure it’s a safety feature, but the person who designed this van was definitely not thinking of the possibility that MAYBE someone some day might want to transport a few chickens to the cottage in this vehicle!

In order to help with the poop volume, I tried something different this year.  I intentionally withheld feed for 3 hours prior to  our cottage departure.  I read in a post by a chicken vet that it takes 3 hours for food to move from beak to butt in a chicken.  My girls must be Olympic gold medal contenders because, when we  stopped halfway through our journey for refreshments, I was met with numerous demands from the “rear passengers”  to pick out the chicken turds in the bottom of the cage.  Okay…we’re not talking a dozen or so…..just 3-4 turds.   Boy…those city kids!

Are We Almost There?

Are We Almost There?

Are We.......Almost....There.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Are We…….Almost….There…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Anyways, transportation was successful and the chickens hunkered down in their cottage ark for the night.004

The following morning, I was up bright and early to let the girls out of the Ark into their pen.  There was no way I was letting anyone out for some free ranging until there were 3 eggs in the nest box.  If you’ve followed me before, you may remember  that Swiffer has taken  to sometimes laying her eggs in the backyard.   Here at the cottage, there is almost an acre of land for the chickens to roam and there’s no way that I’m looking over the entire property for an egg!  But, much to my surprise, nestled tightly together,  were 3 warm eggs in the nest box.044  The chickens just looked at me as if to say “Well…..what else did you expect?”. I’m not sure, but I think I heard someone say “Ok…..now can we finally get out and head down to the beach and explore????????????”072

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A Year in Review

Well…..we made it through a year.  The hens have officially been at City Boy Hens for the last 13 months.  For me…it’s a big deal.  Not because the hens are 1 year old, but rather, I or something else, haven’t managed to kill them in that time.   In the last 12 months, they have survived cat and owl attacks, an attempted break in by a raccoon, one weasel close call at the cottage and two red tail hawks that continue to circle the backyard at home looking for a take-out chicken dinner!

The hens have also moved from their first accommodation – The Chicken Ark- which I made last Spring, to  permanent swanky digs that didn’t have to be moved around the yard each day. They, like the Jeffersons, were “Movin’ on up!”

Portable chicken ark.

Portable chicken ark.

The Run

I kept the new digs toasty throughout the Winter by constructing a well insulated coop which generated heat via a 100 watt lightbulb.  The light was on for the better part of the day and this kept the eggs and drinker from freezing. If you would like more info on these accommodations, check out my page: https://cityboyhens.com/laying-eggs/coop-run-requirements/

There are still no signs of  lice or mites on the hens and our dog, Stanley, has yet to develop a taste for raw chicken.  The transition to the cottage in the summer was pretty easy except for some stinky poop on the way up and some aggravated hens who wouldn’t stop squawking when we stopped for a burger.  As I have said before, they love meat!

As Spring continues to tease us with the expectation of warmer and dryer days, I look forward to returning to the cottage in the months to come and watching the hens free ranging down at the beach.  In the mean time, the neighbours at home continue to get the freshest of eggs when there’s surplus and my friend Ted continues to call me the Chicken Man.

I guess it’s like anything in life.  You reap what you sow.  With that said, wouldn’t it be easier to just get some eggs, salami, cookies, pickles or whatever at the grocery store?  From a time perspective, the answer is yes.  But, I’ve learned a lot in my trade-off with time.  Satisfaction, pride in accomplishments, successes with small failures, and the opportunity to share with family and friends have made every moment worth while.  I’ve also met a lot of great people all the way and it is great getting to know you all.

My blog has been up and running for the last few months and I am amazed at the interest.  It has gone to places in the world that I will never reach.  Thanks to all for spending some of your valuable time at City Boy Hens.  As Spring unfolds, I look forward to sharing the progression of my  vegetable garden at the cottage and  some canning posts on making jams and preserving asparagus, peaches, pears, olives, peppers and more as we move into summer.canning

So….the hens are one year old.  Though they all started laying at different times, I think we’ve received around 650 eggs and counting since Honda got the ball rolling last July!  In the end, we’ve all survived.  In fact, I believe we thrived!  My only regret…….the odd Saturday sleep in to 8 o’clock would have been great!

1 Week's Work!

1 Week’s Work!