Overnight, we accumalated a couple of inches of snow. Much to the children's disgust, it wasn't enough to close the school, but it is certainly enough to irritate the hens. Only Margot ventured out on to the white stuff, and even she only lasted about five minutes before she accumalated a large ice/snow ball on one foot. Watching a hen with one large snow shoe strut-clunk, strut-clunk back to the coop was not good for my pelvic floor.
I decided to clear out the coop and throw in lots more bedding to keep the girls warm, so armed myself with a bucket of sawdust and a thick stack of newspaper. Opening the Convent door, I found three girls stuffed into the nest box, and four ladies huddled together under the perch. Now, usually, as soon as I start cleaning their residence, they wander off with much indignant muttering. Today, however, I was met with beady stares. A definite 'Bog off' look. Taking the edge of the newspaper covering the floor, I began to pull slowly, fulling expecting them to stand up and exit the coop. They continued to stare at me, and slowly slid towards me. Realising that they had no intention of moving, I took drastic action. Gripping the newspaper firmly, I attempted the 'tablecloth trick' (except instead of a tablecloth and dinner ware, I had some poo coated pages from 'The Irish Independent' and four disgruntled hens). It did not go according to plan. The hens all fell backwards, squawking, and the newspaper ripped, leaving me coated in droppings. Lovely. The nest box ladies watched all this carry on with a decidedly smug air, buried up to their shoulders in wood shavings.
I finally tugged the rest of the newspaper from under the hens, and attempted to sweep out the floor. I had to do it around Mabel, Maude, Doris and Mini, though, as they were obviously comfortable. I was then left with the next problem. Getting stuff out from under the girls was one thing, getting fresh paper under them was going to be another. I lifted Mabel out of the coop, and plonked her in the run. I then reached in to grab Maude, and turned to find the run void of my top hen. Glancing back into the coop, with Maude still in my hands, I found Mabel back in the huddle. So, it was going to be like that.
There then followed a ridiculous and humiliating episode where by I shovelled hens out of the coop as quickly as possible, while the hens raced round to get back in to the warmth of the coop. In the end, I managed to paper over two hens, had one sat on my forearm, and another hen pecking at my welly. The hens that I had papered over didn't seem particularly bothered initially, but soon wriggled free once Maeve decided to sit on them.
I am outnumbered.