Today we started our deep liter method for our chicken house and run.  In order for this method to work, we had to put a roof on our chicken run (already did that a few weeks ago) and redo the water supply.  Until today, every time we emptied the water basin, it created a sludge of mud and mess that our ducks further contributed to (ducks really make a mess).  The area around the water basin literally smelled like our local dumps.

So we started with digging out a hole that measured approximately 3′ x 2′ (I would have showed you the before pictures, but I could not find my camera).  We put this hole at a slope so that the water would collect to one side and drain out along our retaining wall.  At the deepest point, our hole measured about 2 1/2′ deep.  We then put in the boards, secured them with re-bar stakes, put down chicken wire, and started to fill with base rock.

Dominique looking at our new water basin which was almost finished; clearly more base rock needed and she isn’t looking to happy about carrying it there–I know it ‘s not fun but work is good for you.
Close-up of the new box with some base rock.

You can see in this picture that we still had a lot of rock to add.  We spent two more hours filling 5 gallon buckets from a dismantled retaining wall full of base rock.  We were only able to fill each bucket about 1/4 full because base rock was so heavy for us to carry (where the men when you need them), and then we had to walk clear across the property with each bucket.  My kids came up with the ingenious idea of doing an assembly line so that we could walk less and pass the bucket off and since there were a total of five of us, that worked out really well.  I was the one who filled up the buckets which may sound like the easy part but moving the 75 lb. blocks from the dismantled retaining wall to uncover base rock was a feat.  And then there was the danger of it as well;  I found two Black Widows and I was prepared for rattle snakes as well.

Finally, all done and water in place!  When we dumped the water, it drained so fast!

We purposely raised the water area for two reasons:  first, so that as we build up the hay for our deep liter method we will not bury our water area; second, so that when we have baby chicks (when they are really small) we are thinking that they won’t be able to jump up to the water and drown in it.  Of course, we won’t have much success with this plan if the litter is built up too high 😦

Building the ramp!

We feel confident that our chickens will easily hop up and get to their water, but we are skeptical about the ducks.  Our ducks, Quakers and Flappers, aren’t very smart.  So, Bryce and Jeanette are building a ramp for “easy” access.  I think the ducks will go to their water without the ramp, but I let them build it anyway…

We are done!  Now it’s play time with the chickens.

At the end of the day, we are so delighted with how clean our coop smells!  No longer is there a stench coming from the damp mud and the 6+ inches of hay that is spread around takes all the chicken poop odors away.  Our hen house also smells great.  The girls just laid out a thick layer of hay in the house and their nesting boxes.  We will be refreshing the hay every Sunday morning so we will keep you posted about our deep liter method.  We plan on emptying the entire coop of the litter once or twice a year–boy what a job that will be!