Lesson 757 – Man, that’s potent stuff

I mentioned yesterday that we had our chickens out in the yard this weekend while we were making the transition from the mess of winter to spring.

Branches that had fallen from ice storms were picked up and leaves too stubborn to release during last fall, but had finally decided to let go were raked. Of course, all this raking and moving opened up a whole world of yummy goodness for our birds.

Our hens foraged for hours and stuffed themselves on bugs, worms, and, in one particular bird’s (Charlie) case, the remnants of a sandwich inadvertently left at chicken level.


Marc and I took on the task of digging out the enclosed coop area.  In the winter we don’t do anything other than keep adding wood chips to the henhouse and yard. This, of course means that in the spring when we do finally attend to this task, we have to dig out close to a foot of compressed, decomposing food, poop, and chicken waste.

It’s got the kind of smell where you can’t help but wrinkle your nose, quickly turn away, and screech “yeee-woooh, that’s potent!” To say the least, mucking out the chicken yard is not one of my favorite tasks.

But it needs to get done and in this case, the sooner, you do it, the better.

Half of the waste, we put near our compost pile to be used in future gardens and lawn projects, and the other half we put in the corner of the fenced in area when our chickens stay during the day. This organic waste is filled with bugs and grain making it excellent material for the chickens to scratch and peck through. It’s a veritable playground for the hens to romp in.

And I’m sure that once the warm sun hits it and dries it up a bit, the smell will become much more bearable and we can soon go back to eating our dinners outside again.

At least, I hope so.

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two. 


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Charlie, Life Lessons, Personal, The Family, Uncategorized, Violet

4 responses to “Lesson 757 – Man, that’s potent stuff

  1. Harmon

    I have a 4 x 6 foot coop for my 6 girls. I also use wood shavings on the floor. Every two to three days I thoroughly rake the floor. The chips have been down since late summer and there is almost no noticeable smell. As it decomposes it stays light and dry. It is about 10″ deep. I will do a through cleaning in the fall when all my vegetables have been harvested and put it all on the garden beds

    • Wendy Thomas


      Thanks for that information. I think I may be a little more proactive about moving our chips around more often. Anything to not have to go through this again. 🙂

      May I ask what part of the country you live in? Do you also rake during the winter?


      • Harmon

        I’m in Cincinnati, oh. I rake throughout the year. I did it this morning and after raking it was almost as light as the fresh shavings are. The coop floor is solid plywood with linoleum tiles on it. It’s been almost a year and I’ve only cleaned it out once. I add fresh shavings every couple of months

  2. I just cleaned out my 3X3 coop and put in fresh wood chips. You ain’t kidding about the smell! Nothing noticeable until I got down to the very bottom layer. Guess I need to make sure I’m digging deeper to turn that layer too when I mix things up during the winter months.

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