Last week, just before I got the gumption to clean up my backyard, I cleaned up the chicken’s backyard. Because again … apparently their backyard had been struck by looters.  And really weird looters.  The kind who don’t take anything, they just make everything messy, probably jump around in their underwear for a while, and then leave.


The chickens don’t care either way.  Right here they were actually talking about the mess in a conversation that went something like this:

“Hey Mabel, have you noticed the mess?”

“Not really Cheez Whiz, things look fine to me.  Wait!  Unless you were talking about Josephine’s new tail feather.  In which case, R I D I C U L O U S.”

“Hey do you mind if I peck at your eyeball?”

“Not at all.”


Having decided I couldn’t leave a clean up decision to a group of animals that peck at each other’s eyeballs and look straight at you while they poop in their water, I took it upon myself to decide it was time for the chicken coop’s Spring Clean Up.

To fool myself into thinking this job was going to be a fun job, I dragged out my fun pants.



Even though chickens love dirt, there’s a distinction between dirt and dirty.  Dirt is good for chickens, they bathe in it to cool down and get rid of mites.

Poopy dirty is bad.  Dirty chicken water, roosting areas and nesting boxes can lead to disease, respiratory problems for the hens and neighbours throwing rotten goldfish at you.  Or whatever stinkfest they can chuck at you in a friendly “Your coop is gross and you’d better clean it up” gesture.




The first thing I did was pull down the plexiglass I had covering the coop to keep the winter wind and snow out.  I find the best way to do this is to walk in a very unnatural, knock-kneed way.  Yes it’s definitely best to do it that way.




This is the time to add all that winter poop and straw to the composter.  Now that the weather is a bit warmer, it’ll turn into compost in no time just by adding a bit of water to it.

I hot compost my straw and chicken manure into good, useable compost in less than 30 days just by adding a bit of water to it.  It’s good shit.



At least twice a year I completely scrub and bleach my waterers, then add a splash of cider vinegar to them when I fill them up again.  I’m not totally sure of why I do this, but rumour has it it’s good for the chickens. I have no proof of this other than reading crap on the Internet.  If you don’t want to use bleach just disinfect with white vinegar instead.









Hey!  See my clear hose wrapped around something hanging off the fence?  It’s a bucket.  It’s one of my favourite DIYs ever.







Want a galvanized bucket to keep your chicken scratch or birdseed in? It’s technically an ash can.  Get it here.


“Hey Mabel.  Do you notice anything different around here?”

“Huh? No.  Wait!  Unless you’re talking about Karen’s red pants.  Are you talking about her red pants?  In which case … R I D I C U L O U S.”


  1. Mandi says:

    Those galvanized bins are great for a bunch of uses around a property. I used one when I had dogs, to collect poo bags after pickup or after a walk (I hate those in the house, blech.) On trash day, I’d dump them into a bigger bag of house trash, and walk it all to the big bin. (I live in an area that requires double bagged pet waste.)

  2. Lindsay says:

    What do you put in your dust bath bin? I am getting my pullets in a few weeks and would like to try that strategy. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindsay! I used to put regular dry garden soil mixed with a bit of Diatomaceous Earth, but there’s some controversy over D.E. now so I’m stopping with it until I learn more. Right now I’m using dry, dry garden soil, any leftover dry potting soil I have and play sand. The chickens love it. Have fun with your pullets! ~ karen!

  3. Lavues says:

    Must be a real adventure but its looking great. Hopefully the chickens love the clean coop.

  4. Leslie says:

    I love your chicken updates. Your girls are looking great. Adorable scratch bucket (ash can) with the lid! I got the cutest metal scoop from Premier1, it’s like your scoop except the handle bends backwards to make it easier to scoop down in a bucket, and it can hang from the side of the bucket. It’s so handy now I want one for my bulk kitchen ingredients, too.

  5. Flash says:

    love the look of your coop

  6. Elen G says:

    I just love your chickens. I have no intention of raising any chickens myself, but love your chickens just the same.

  7. Kristy says:

    Man, even the gates to your coop/run are cool… Our coop was thrown together with scrap wood and it’s cool and all (the chickens like it) but it’s not pretty. We’ve only had chickens since February and I think it’s already time for a spring cleaning. They really do poop a lot. Indiscriminately.

  8. whitequeen96 says:

    “And really weird looters. The kind who don’t take anything, they just make everything messy, probably jump around in their underwear for a while, and then leave.”
    OMG, you’ve been spying on me and my friends!
    And we don’t just jump around in our underwear; we dance!

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Happy hens make happy eggs!

  10. Lois Baron says:

    Chickens have poop boards?! I thought they just pooped everywhere.

    Lois (who is rethinking who whole having a chicken thing)

    • Sherri Stockfleth says:

      They do in fact poop everywhere but a poop board under their sleeping roost contains a large portion of it (since that is all they do all night besides sleep) and it is easy to scoop it all off and throw it in the compost to keep the smell down in the coop instead of it just accumulating on the floor. Chickens are awesome, everyone should have 6 or more!

  11. Stefanie Barrett says:

    WARNING TO ALL READERS: The band of looters is an international organization who not only strike avian habitats but are also particularly fond of walk-in closets, garages and attics.

  12. LisaS says:

    After all these years of reading your blog daily, I just noticed that your chicken run has no top. How do your chickens not get out during the day? How do you prevent hawks or other animals from swooping in and getting them? Also, what is the green tarp and board that are on top of your coop used for? Sorry for all the questions, I just finished my first coop and now I’m noticing all these things about yours. lol

  13. loner says:

    young lady now that has to be a shitty job. keep up the good work you have a very nice web site. the best thing i like about it, it shows women can do any thing a man can do. you do a outstanding job. keep up the hard work. loner

  14. Linda in Illinois says:

    I would like to see the doors on the coop opened so we can see the way you have decorated the inside. The outside is decorated with fancy lights, and something to the left that looks like storage units. Open the doors and let us see what wonderful things you created for thee.

  15. Shauna says:

    Hold on a hot second – you’re able to put cider vinegar in your metal waterers and they don’t rust? Mine totally rusted, so I had to switch to plastic.

  16. Ev Wilcox says:

    Glad you cleared up the question of the wall bucket & hose! I was wondering what it was but did not want to be the one asking. Nice coop system, and the girls look great. Still sad about Cuddles though. Our animal friends sure have a mighty power over us, don’t they? You are a wonderful chicken-friend. Glad your chicken spring cleaning is done. Onward and upward!

  17. Katie Schneider says:

    DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HORRORS OF CHICKEN COOP PRESSUREWASHER BACKSPLASH. we just got a pressurewasher and one of the first things i did was the chicken coop….now I’m in the market for one of those hermetically sealed hazmat suits. So gross.

  18. judy says:

    conversation among lady birds..
    Hey- damn did you notice she’s de-pooped the homestead again?! No worry. You know we can re-poop a hell of a lot faster than she can clean it up. But I love to watch her work-especially now that her legs have turned that weird red color. I think it has something to do with human reproduction. She’s probably about to lay an Egg.

    Can anybody explain a really weird experience I had last night. I am very bad about bringing the feral cat food in at night and I know raccoons are coming nightly but so are some really pathetic looking cats. Any-Hoo I looked out the side glass of my front door and saw a young looking raccoon looking nervously around. We have very large inside dogs. the raccoon looked up at me and stood up on its hind legs, with a very scared expression and raised up its arms like a toddler asking to be picked up. It remained stretching up its arms until I turned the door handle, at which point it scooted out of sight. Why did it do this? I actually wanted to adopt it-it looked so needy. Very strange. Any experts on raccoon behavior out there?

    • Cred says:

      Judy, I’d be very careful with racoons. Especially if it’s behaving abnormally. Uncharacteristic behaviour can be a symptom of rabies; normally friendly animals may act wild while normally timid animals may appear unafraid of humans. And rabid or not, raccoons who are cornered or feel threatened can inflict great injury.

      We have to be careful not to anthropomorphize animals; they may seem to have human traits but they don’t communicate or use body language that translates the same as humans. Because they can be cute, we naturally want to mother them, however, it’s often the wrong action.
      Keeping native animals is illegal in many places and most people don’t have the knowledge or skills to keep them. If you see it again and are greatly concerned for its wellbeing, perhaps there a local wildlife rehabber in your area that you could contact for advice.
      Just be careful with the sad-looking little cutie- I wouldn’t want him to hurt you or one of your dogs if you tried to bring him in for shelter.

    • Bols says:

      No expert, but check out Instagram account @pumpkintheracoon – about a rescued raccoon who lives in a home with two dogs. Very cute pictures, too. Perhaps you contact the owner for more information. Apparently, there are also clips dedicated to Pumpkin on YouTube.

    • Sherri Stockfleth says:

      It is a behavior intended to possibly scare off something that may be scared by a bigger looking raccoon than the one standing in front of you a minute ago. As already stated, be careful with the little disease carrying mean buggars raccoon can be very ornery and not something you want to corner on accident.

  19. Jen Topp says:

    Am I correct in guessing you do the deep litter method during the winter months?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jen! Yes, I actually do the deep litter method all the time. I clean out the inside of their lower coop twice a year but clean out the outside run in the summer months about once a month. ~ karen!

  20. Cred says:

    Beautiful! I did my duck coop some time in late winter when it was warmer than the weather we had all spring. I even washed their window. Their bedding is still quite clean but man, the dust and cobwebs are already back with a vengeance and some tiny flies that were hanging around the window last month, pooped all over it.
    What’s the deal with tarp on the top of the coop? Are we going to see a future post titled, “How to Repair a Leaky Roof on your Chicken Coop”?

    • Karen says:

      Ha! I hope not. It’s the one job that I’m considering paying someone to do this summer. I want to put in a new skylight and add a solar powered vent for the roof to keep it cool and I’m literally out of time for jobs this summer already so … We’ll see how much it’ll cost to have someone do it. ~ karen!

      • Cred says:

        That’s a neat idea. My sister bought my dad one of those temperature controlled arms for cold frames from Lee Valley for his greenhouse. I should ask him if it worked well for that.

        • Karen says:

          I actually own one of those arms and they work great. :) It’s not a bad idea to apply it to a roof vent! ~ karen!

  21. Mary W says:

    Your beautiful coop has a gypsy trailer sort of feel. I’ve never seen one but have imagined them as wonderful, mysterious, black and metal, with a feast of colors inside. So this is a compliment. Not very good if I have to explain but it is just so unusual and non-chickeny and beautiful.

  22. Ann says:

    I clean our coops out almost that well monthly. I do it more for my benefit than theirs. I need that spoiled bedding to become compost on a regular basis. In between that and the stuff under the rabbitry, my garden soil has become so so much better than the native red clay we had when we started. But I don’t use regular feeders anymore or waterers. So the bowls I use actually go into the dish washer almost every time.

    • Karen says:

      Ha! That’s the thing, chickens love dirt. People? Not so much. I remove their bedding once a month and into the compost bin it goes but I don’t remove it all winter so the spring clean up for that is a big one. It makes GREAT compost! And fast! ~ karen

  23. Kathleen says:

    A clear hose? I want one. (all that effort on this post and I latch onto the clear hose!) LOL! :)

    • Karen says:

      I know! Isn’t it great? They started selling them here in Canada a year or two ago, but only in one chain as far as I know (Home Hardware). ~ karen!

  24. Paula says:

    Do you have any problems with vermin or racoons getting into the ash can? I have a tamperproof metal garbage can, but when the feed gets low, I can’t reach it anymore.

    • Katie says:

      My parents keep their birdseed in an ash can because the squirrels chewed through the the screens on their porch and the Rubbermaid container, twice, to get to it.

      They haven’t had any trouble with the squirrels since then, but I don’t know about racoons. They might be able to knock it over.

    • Karen says:

      The only time I have problems with raccoons getting in is when I forget to click the latch down. Then I wake up to a spilled can and feed everywhere. But as long as I keep the latch properly latched they haven’t been able to get into it. Nothing else has ever got into it either. I love it. I got this particular can at TSC years ago. ~ karen!

  25. Paula says:

    Do you have any problems with vermin or racoons getting into the ash can?

  26. Kristina says:

    Love those fancy red pants. Highly motivational. I’m newly henless, and need to shape up the chicken house for new residents. This is the kick In the pants I need. (Not sure I can muster such natty britches.)

  27. Marna says:

    You are so energetic! Great job! My dad use to raise chickens for years. He seemed to always be doing something for them. I wish every one good luck on their projects. I can’t do a timeline, too old and and in bad shape. I have projects to finish as I can, I only have me to work on them, lazy family.

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