This week, the animal pens are getting a flip. This means the bedding is being scooped out and refreshed in both the goat pen and chicken coop. 10 wheelbarrow loads of great green manure and mulch went up to the gardens for composting and new bed establishing. The bare dirt floor of the goat pen was a perfect place to put my oldest hens for a final job in cleaning and gleaning before they head to the freezer after ending their egg laying careers at Leafhopper Farm.
Manure mulch is a great biomass to build up fast in a new area of garden bed. I pile the mass high in a focused area, then put dirt on top of that, then wait till the whole pile breaks down before next fall’s planting. Timing is everything with manure. Not many plants like hot or green (fresh) poop on them. This high nitrogen content burns the plant and can destroy young plants. The manure must age and mature into a well balanced part of the greater organic matter in the soil so that plants can take nutrients from it.
The old hens will work over the soil, cleaning out any insect eggs and other parasitic worms which developed in the bedding. These chickens are no longer egg producing so it’s not necessary for them to have a nest box. They are nice and plump, being dual purpose hens with girth. With the introduction of new hens, the coop is a little overcrowded right now and old hens need to be removed to balance the younger flock and make room for new leadership in the hen’s pecking order.
A fresh layer of straw has been put down in prep for the goats who are meanwhile chilling in the old pig pen. They can peek over the wall into this stall, but have a lot more room in their other holding pen which is fine while the hens clean out their home. By next week, the hens will move to the soup pot and the goats will move back into their newly refreshed stall.