Today warmed up to about 35 °. I let all the chickens out, and as they happily scratched and roamed, I tackled one of my least favorite, but oh-so-necessary jobs--cleaning the coops. I had both shavings and hay down and the chickens had scratched them to a pulverized rendition of their former appearance.
The barn is old, built in the late 1700's, and though one enters on the ground level, the hill it's built on quickly falls away and the first floor is supported on 6 inch posts. The middle coop, divided for chickens on one side and geese on the other, has two windows overlooking the pasture. One of those windows is just big enough to dump a muck bucket out of, into the compost heap below; so much easier than carrying each bucketful one by one. It also afforded a wonderful view of the geese playing in the tiny rivulets of water formed as the ice melted. They were content, honking softly, and stayed far enough from the window to merely glance occasionally as another bucketful fell into the pile below.
I raked and I forked the bedding, lifting various pieces of flat board that cover holes and cracks between the floor boards, inspecting the floor to make sure it's still sound, and of course, it is. Still, it's good to have those extra piece of board to keep down drafts. Then came the sweeping. It's amazing how dusty chicken detritus can be, and just how much fine dirt and dust is left after picking up the larger stuff. You'd think, wouldn't you, that the chickens would be especially happy to be outside on such a beautiful day, but there's nothing like moving hay and bedding around to rouse interest. Who knows what goodies could be uncovered at the flick of a stable fork or a broom?
Finally I was done with the cleaning, grabbed two bales of mulch hay, and covered the floor deeply. Ah, then the interest began in earnest. It wasn't exactly a stampede, but hens just seemed to appear, and even the rooster took up his spot and called to his girls to come see what great things awaited them in this new, fresh hay.
Now it's time to clean all the dust and hay off. I feel like it's an inch thick on my skin. A long, hot shower will be a perfect way to end the cleaning chore, and I can hear the water calling my name.
Truly, this is what life is supposed to be.