While considering buying Willow Bend, we’d not given the chicken coop a ton of attention. Hey, there was a coop already! That would make moving the birds a lot easier than had there not been a coop already.
From poking our heads inside, it was clear it’d need some cleanup. A thorough cleaning is good practice in this situation anyway, just for basic flock bio-safety.
I’d gone out on our first day to shoot a carefully targeted stream of wasp poison into the very active nest inside the coop. We generally avoid this sort of thing, and in particular I wasn’t crazy about poisoning a future food production area, but really saw no viable alternative if were going to use the coop before the wasps died for winter.
After giving the poison a few days to do its job, then, I set out to get the coop ready for our girls to move (this was one of the realities that made some amount of overlap between buying the new house and leaving the old one necessary).
Oh. My. God. As soon as I got started, it was clear there was a lot more to do here than I’d anticipated. I’m a fan of the deep litter method (which basically means you add new bedding material rather than frequently cleaning out the coop), but this had been taken to an extreme.
As I chipped away at the hardened mass of decomposed chicken poop and straw on the floor, I realized that it was 12-18″ deep. Throughout the whole coop. In places, it was incredibly hard, and concealed a number of surprises, including:
- One dog crate (somewhat dented and rusty)
- Seven small wooden crates (mostly rotted beyond repair)
- Two small circular rubber food/water dishes
- A large plastic trough-like container
- Various wooden boards
It took the bulk of the day to get the coop emptied, and involved sixteen full wheelbarrows filled with semi-fossilized chicken poop. Whew! I used up a dust mask that day, but on the plus side I got a good workout, and a free base layer for our new compost pile. After a through cleaning with water and vinegar and some fresh bedding, the old coop was reborn, and ready for our girls to move in.