If Z knows of a better ‘ole…

LT’s phone dropped out of his pocket, the other day.  I rang it and it had just fallen in a bag by the sofa, but I took it as a prompt to set up family sharing on our respective accounts.  I often use the “Find my phone” app but he doesn’t have any other Apple products, except an elderly iPod.  It gives various options, which we haven’t taken up but, of course, to be able to find each other’s devices means that we can each look up where the other is.  Which we usually know, of course.  But oh, how we laughed.

It seems to be completely impossible to keep rats out of the hen house.  Earlier in the year, after the fox disaster (when they’d got in through the adjoining barn), we upped our defences considerably.  Unfortunately, since the old rat runs had been blocked off, they tunnelled instead and made great mounds of earth.  We’ve paved part of the run, put wire down, rubble … they just dig through.  It wouldn’t really matter, i suppose, except that it looks such a mess and they eat the chickens’ food.  I don’t go out to let them into the greenhouse until about 9 and they can’t wait to eat until then.  I don’t leave food in the greenhouse any more, they were really munching their way through the layer pellets – indeed, they like them a lot more than the chickens do (and they’re moulting anyway, so we’re only getting an egg every other day at present).

I can’t put poison down because of the cats and I can’t put traps down because of the chickens and I’m rather afraid of rat traps anyway.  I guess I can pave the whole of the hen run, though it will take another 28 paving slabs – which I probably have – and a fair bit of work for Wince.  It’s a nuisance, certainly.

I pre-empted another blocked drain, having noticed the kitchen sink plughole was a bit slow to empty the other day.  It wasn’t bad but, having cleared the pipe between that and the first manhole, I put the rods down the next section and it was starting to back up a bit there.  So we lifted the next one, which was clear, so I rodded between the two, lifted the other cover which leads from the bathroom and cloakroom and was relieved to find that was entirely clear.  Actually, I lifted the wrong one first, and we gazed down into the well.

I don’t think I’ve told you about the well.  And that reminds me that I was going to write down tales from the Sprig’s childhood and I’ve hardly started.  So I should continue with that, too.

13 comments on “If Z knows of a better ‘ole…

  1. 63mago

    A well ? Oh HErr. That brings back long forgotten childhood memories. I once fell into a well, at that it was built by my great-grandfather. I only hope the Sprig had not to go through that !

    The only thing I know about rats is that it is not really possible to keep them out. If they want to come in they do. The best way would be to keep nothing in that attracts them. But I have no clue how this would work in the situation you describe.

    1. Z Post author

      He didn’t fall in – I don’t think he’d have got out again alive.

      I shut the chickens out of half of their run for several weeks and the rats still kept on tunnelling in there, though there was nothing to attract them.

  2. Kipper

    Our coop is smallish. What is working temporarily is the thick sheet of exterior grade plywood I placed beneath it. The wood extends about 2 to 3 inches beyond the coop base. I check all the time for invaders. The feeder in main section gets taken out before hen bedtime. Their secured nesting room where they go at night, has small feed and water containers. Neighbors actually put a cement foundation under their larger coop.

  3. Blue Witch

    As Kipper says, the only thing that works for us is the cement foundation under the hen house.

    A friend who is a vet nurse tells me that cats won’t eat mice or rats that have been poisoned. I’m less convinced.

    Have you considered a feeder like they use for feeding pheasants that is ‘peck to release food’? Vermin and wild birds can’t work it as it is too high up for them. Expensive but saves a fortune on feeding other creatures than hens.
    eg http://www.parklandproducts.co.uk/page0.php

  4. Z Post author

    The chicken house is about 20 feet by 9 feet, divided lengthwise by wire, so that the hens can be kept out of one or other side if necessary. It adjoins the big barn on the short end and half a side. There is also an outside section, about 10 feet by 15, which has a wire cover and fencing which also is against the barn, which I’d rather not have to concrete or pave. Then there’s a tunnel to the large greenhouse – I can’t have them free range any more because the Seramas are so small that I’m afraid a sparrow hawk would get them – which I close off at night for their safety. Thank you for the link, BW, I will look into it as that very basic website gives so little information that I can’t tell if it would be suitable. A 25 kilo container is far too big for my 5 chickens but I’d quite like to get back up to a dozen birds, not least because I’d really like a few chicks from our few remaining original bantams as they’ve been such a lovely part of our life for so many years.

    There have always been visiting cats here but I’m not taking any risk with poison.

      1. Z Post author

        A bag lasts ages now, well over a month. And I visit the hens at least twice a day anyway, and I like feeding them – but all the same, I am interested for the future. I just wish the website wasn’t so unhelpful, I can’t tell how it actually works or whether my littlest hen could use it. She tends to get chased away from the choicest food by the bigger birds as it is.

        1. Blue Witch

          Future proofing is why are hens are pretty much self-reliant (although of course we see them several times a day and someone comes in daily when we are away).

          Agreed the website is not very helpful.

          The legs do adjust…

          This page gives a pic:


          The leccy is going off for the rest of the day in 10 minutes but I’ll send you a photo of ours using it later. We’ve had it probably 10 years now and it’s still fine.

          1. Z Post author

            Thanks, I couldn’t work out anything from the picture, it is quite useless, though I’ve found it advertised on other websites and that gives a bit more detail, though I still can’t see if it’s suitable for chickens of vastly different sizes. I do think an automatic feeder is the way to go, but I’m not sure I need one that big – when you send the pic, could you let me know the approximate size please?

    1. Z Post author

      It was awful. Only a few weeks after a dog got in and killed half a dozen chickens, the fox – foxes, I suspect, it was cub season – killed all but one. The silence when i went in with their breakfast and the sight of the shocked lone survivor. Rose has four bantams, hatched in summer 2016, which include a cockerel that I don’t think is directly related to any of the four girls, so we can start again. I’ve also acquired a few from friends as otherwise my girl would be on her own, which isn’t good for chickens.


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