When we got our backyard chickens, we had rosy dreams of chickens roaming freely and happily throughout our large backyard just the way nature intended and the way that factory farmed chickens are never allowed to live.
Then we got the actual chickens and the amount of poop kind of blew me away. I mean, two chickens — how much could they poop? And surely they’d mostly poop in the grass, right? The answer to those two questions is: an astronomical amount, and NO.
Those dang things poop aggressively anywhere they can squeeze their fluffy bodies into. Inside the garage in the 5 minutes that the door is open before I back the car out. On top of our picnic table. Directly on top of the back door mat so you step into it as you exit the house. And how they hide the poop in the garage when they manage to get in there so that I step in it on my way to the washer and dryer. NOT COOL, CHICKENS.
We thought we had it under control with our dogged dedication to handwashing and by purchasing backyard-only Crocs that were always taken off at the door to the house so that if anyone stepped in poop it never made it inside the house. We covered every dropping with loose sand from the sandbox and swept it away when it dried. We bought a power-washer for the concrete.
Despite one of my previous commenters’ disparaging remarks, I really do not think it was unreasonable for us to assume that two chickens in 1/8 of an acre in full sunlight was a natural breeding ground for all kinds disease. In agrarian societies, humans and animals co-existed for centuries and still do on operating farms today.
Nevertheless, I think it was the sippy cups that really did us in. I like to make sure my kids are well hydrated so I let them carry their sippy cups with them wherever they are playing. Which, unfortunately, included outside. It never occurred to me that they might have been dropping those cups in infected areas and then touching them with their mouths and hands. Even after washing their hands, re-touching those cups again later might have been the cause of what happened: salmonella.
At least, we think it was salmonella. It was 2 weeks of diarrhea with no other symptoms for both kids. When we took Little Sir to the doctor (he was the first to exhibit symptoms), she mentioned that it looked a lot like salmonella but that since he hadn’t been touching frogs or turtles, that couldn’t be it. Then, either she or someone else casually mentioned chickens later…and I started putting it all together.
My first thought, of course, was to cook those chickens for making my babies sick. But I am a vegetarian and ethical slaughter would probably be expensive and time consuming.
Instead, we locked those chickens up in their coop and power-washed the entire back yard and some of the garage floor. SO MUCH POOP. The chickens were indignant and loud about it. I told them that they were lucky that they were not in a soup already.
This weekend, Christian built a little chicken run around their coop with some chicken wire.
I love it!
Another thing I love, unrelated to this post, is my new screen door for the backyard.
The weather is just now getting cool here in the Dallas area and the kids have been enjoying playing outside in their now-poop-free environment. The screen door makes it perfect because I can even work on dinner with the door wide open to hear them and the bugs won’t get in. Both of them have even learned to open and close the door themselves! Big kids!
And that is the story of how we reclaimed our back yard from the chickens.