They think, "Nope. Not. Going. Outside. Today."
Sixty chickens hanging out all day in a hen house leads quickly to an excess of fertilizer Luke thinks of the chickens as Pez dispensers. He's delighted with every deposit they make. More food for him. I'm not so happy. Poo builds up quickly and sticks to my shoes when I gather eggs. I must either clean the chicken house pronto, or throw another layer of hay on top.
I am currently throwing another layer of hay on top, delaying the torture of cleaning until warmer weather or Scott comes home. We are almost 8 inches deep in hay and compost now and I'm hoping it will start to heat as it decomposes. Then at least the chickens will stay warmer.
But for now, I want the girls to go outside. That's where my rake comes in. I have discovered that if they can see just the tiniest bit of a path then they will step out.
So I grab my rake and start making paths. One path leads down to the creek so they'll go there for water. That's a five gallon bucket less for me to tote. Another path leads to the back side of the shed, which will often heat up enough to melt off a little bare spot. I call it the Rooster Riviera.
The chickens like to sunbathe there, and the rooster struts about picking up chicks. Lacking a tiny bathing suit he substitutes a deft display of neck feathers.
The rest of the hens head over to the bare spot under the truck. They can scratch a little, make dust baths and stay out of the view of the hawk who patrols the sky.
Satisfied that I've avoided adding another deposit of hay to the coop, I head back to my house. The hens hang outside for another fifteen minutes and then make their way back to the hen house. It's warmer in there.Their deposits are decomposing. Time to go make some more.
In spite of my efforts to avoid it, I guess I'll be making a fresh deposit of my own tomorrow.