Creosoting and foxproofing

The last blog entry on the poultry project took us up to the installation of the basic foundations of the coop and run. The next stage has been to move the hen house onto the site and foxproof the run.

The house has been sitting quietly on the trailer for a month, whilst we’ve been on holiday. I’d forgotten just how heavy most of the panels were. When I loaded up, not only did I have the help of the seller, but we had only a few yards to carry them. Unloading, Jean and I had a long walk from the allotment gates to our plot with each large and clumsy panel.

As a precaution, I’ve creosoted all the internal surfaces against red mite. From all I’ve read on the various poultry forums and websites, red mite is one of the most difficult pests to eradicate, and prevention is a thousand times better than attempting a cure. The mites live in the cracks and crevices of the coop, and drop onto the sleeping chickens to suck their blood. Creosote is one of the few things that will kill the mites at every stage of their lifecycle. Creosote is now banned from sale for domestic use (although professionals can still buy it) and we are supposed to make do with substitutes. Luckily I had a couple of gallons of the real stuff put by.

It was an evocative experience. My old dad was a fiend for creosote, and it was my task as a boy to creosote the fences and the shed. The shed had to be done inside as well as out, so I was regularly showered with the stuff during my formative years. I remember a particular green pullover that was kept for the purpose, which retained its tarry smell no matter how often it was washed.

The last two days have been dedicated to foxproofing the run. After some agonising, because it clearly involved a lot of work, we decided to lay weldmesh not only around the sides of the run (a so-called foxproof skirt), but completely underneath the run as well. Which meant, of course, digging it out to the depth of the railway sleepers.

Here’s the halfway point:

You can see the hen house panels, all freshly creosoted, in the background, and the first couple of lengths of weldmesh laid and joined.

But all that earth then had to be transferred over the top of the mesh, and the left hand side dug out, so we could lay the other half of the foxproofing.

During the day we were visited by the Council Allotment Officer, who was I think pleased that we’d actually stuck to the plans that we’d submitted, and by one of the experienced poultry keepers on the site who gave us his seal of approval.

So just for an encore, we filled it all in again. Now it doesn’t look much different from when we started!

Meanwhile, all sorts of wondrous packages have been turning up by courier. Drinkers, feeders, netting, grit and hoppers to put it in, and a trug for the chickens to use as a dust bath. Finally to round off the day, we went to a local supplier and bought feed (layers’ pellets), treats (mixed corn and mealworms), and litter for the hen house.

We’ve arranged to pick up the chickens on Monday. So we have a deadline.

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