Despite the fact that from tomorrow the weather is due to improve considerably, I picked today to thoroughly clean out the Palace run. I just couldn't look at the wet, dirty carpet of litter any more. The hens had started to wipe their feet on the way out in to the garden. Donning my funky chicken wellies, I trudged out to assess the situation. As I feared, the garden was a boggy mess dotted here and there with a decorative splodge of chicken excrement. Perfect.
Chickens are naturally curious creatures, and they do like to get under your feet when you're doing something potentially fatal to them. Clearing the run becomes a fun game where by the girls take it in turns to sit directly behind me, therefore risk being stood on, or sticking their head in the way of the swiftly descending rake which I use to pile up the used bedding. The more I waft, shush and generally try to get shot of them, the more fun it becomes. Luckily, everyone survived the clear out and Maeve even managed a triumphant poo right in the centre of the briefly spotless slabbed floor.
I was only harassed by the pekin tribe, though. The serama are proving reluctant to spend any time outside of the garage. While I'm sure that a glowering Gladys thundering towards you across the patio must be quite intimidating, I doubt it's the only reason. They really don't enjoy the wet, or the wind, or the cold. Basically, they behave like teenagers who just want to stay in bed all day. On saturday, the ever tolerant husband is going to fetch me a two tier hutch which will be placed outside and which Betsy and Vera will then call home. I'm hoping to a) get them used to seeing the waddling hoardes charging towards them, and b) to get them acclimatised to the great outdoors. Frankly, trying to locate them in the garage is getting rather tiresome. Especially as Vera has a penchant for burrowing.
Once everything was cleared out, cleaned and mite dusted, I dragged the bale of Aubiose to the run. It was only when I looked behind me that I realised that the bag had a hole in it, and that I had cut a muddy swathe across the lawn. Lovely. Slitting the bag open in the run, I emptied half of it on to the floor, threw in some corn and then retreated. By the time I had replaced the feeder and drinker, all of the pekins were exploring the shiny new landscape.
Initially, they all circled at the edges of the pile and scoffed the corn which was most accessible. However, it wasn't long before this easy source of grub was exhausted and the only way to get more was to start the ascent. Gingerly, various hens began the climb, muttering with alarm as the flooring slid beneath their feet. Mabel took up a supervisory spot on the perch and directed her underlings accordingly. Slowly, the aubiose was being redistributed about the run. With a sudden show of bravado, Gladys pushed on to the summit. She stood triumphant, a whole eighteen inches above the ground, and bokked a bit. Then she dug herself a hole turning the mountain in to a volcano. Just as her crazy frizzled head disappeared below the crater, Maeve rather maliciously turned her back on the spectacle and started furiously scratching. Gladys shrieked indignantly as ASBO Chicken attempted to bury her nemesis alive.
That chicken definitely has a master plan.