Settling In

The last few days I posted about our new neighbours. All good so far, I’m pleased to report. There’s a lot they don’t know, but we’re getting there. They don’t recognise regular pelletted chicken food, so we are having to dissolve it in water, otherwise they will starve.

Our other chickens have all wished to be out of the coop in the morning. First thing, soon as we open it, they are queuing to get outside. These aren’t, yet.

In a similar vein, a chicken’s natural behaviour is to roost at night. In practise, this means that they will find their own ways into the coop when they are ready, and all we need to do is to shut the door for the night. 2/3 do this, but the third, we have to put into the coop manually.

Still, teething problems, we’ll get there.

One of the other tasks was replacing all the little things that have either disappeared, or perished, from our last batch of chickens. We needed a new skelter. Do you know what that is? I didn’t, until we kept chickens! And all those years, I knew exactly what a helter-skelter was!

One of the other things we needed to replace was a sun-screen for the coop. The old one had simply rotted. It’s just a regular piece of material, to shield the birds from the sun, when they are in the “run” part of the coop. Because we have a specific brand of coop, we went back to them to get a specific sun-screen, with the correct dimensions to cover the coop..

Now, we think of keeping chickens as a very “back to nature” thing. Instead of going to the nasty old supermarket, where we don’t know where anything comes from, we opt to go straight back to source. We start with just pellets, we rear the chickens ourselves, and we enjoy lovely, fresh eggs as a result. Just look at all those steps in the chain we circumvented. That’s a nice eco-friendly step, surely?

Here’s what I found.

Yesterday, the new sun screen arrived. It came in plastic packaging. I got the bag out of the packaging, which went into the trash.

I got inside the packet. There was the sun screen. It was wrapped in a plastic sleeve, which went into the trash.

I got my hands on the sun screen, which was made of … something synthetic. Came from a fossil, anyhow. Maybe they feel that the material is more durable than something natural? That our old one had disintegrated shows that these things have a finite lifetime, whatever they are made of.

At each corner of the sunscreen, there was a hole. Deliberate, to thread lengths of elastic through, which secure the screen to the coop.

In the main packet, also, were four of these pieces of elastic, They, too, were in their own plastic bag, which was discarded.

I’m not sure about the bits of elastic. They certainly felt synthetic. They certainly had little plastic grappling hooks at the end, to fix to the coop. But presumably, you need elastic just to provide the tension? String, and a knot, are simply not up to scratch? And, you need plastic hooks because there is no natural material available? Because no wood is durable enough? Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt here?

But the whole thing makes me wonder. At the end of this, there are a bunch of people who are trying to do the right thing. And I’m wondering whether the manufacturer, too, is trying to do the right thing. Do they seriously think “we need to use all this plastic to maintain the quality of our products”, or is the CEO, right now, sitting at their desk thinking “let’s shaft these gullible fuckers for every penny we can”, before they drive their gas-guzzling tank home this evening for a pleasant weekend?

Oh, lastly, two of the chickens now have names. The feisty one was immediately Boudica. There is another one, who stands absolutely still and looks very pensive. She is called Marguerite. Marguerite Porete was a medieval French thinker and writer, she wrote a theological work and, for her troubles, was burned at the stake for heresy.


  1. Interesting reflections. I don’t know what a skelter is and can’t imagine the sunscreen. Ironic to have teething problems with chooks. 😃 I am lucky enough that my husband built our chicken coop and run out of wood and wire. They even have a double glazed door (a window for the house which was ordered to the wrong size). But I fully understand your frustration with all the plastic. It’s so jolly hard to do the right thing!! We need to go back to natural materials. All the chicken food comes in plastic. We did manage to get a stainless steel hopper for their grain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The coop itself is rigid, moulded plastic, but wew figured that was okay because we could have it years and not decompose. Also, zero maintenance for noobs. We heard of a mite which can get into wood and effectively ruin the coop, it can’y get into plastic. Skelters are fascinating devices, must have been round hundreds of years but I figure most of us don’t know them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The trait of the third is that she is very tame. As in, she will not object if we reach down and stroke her. Can you think of a name for a tame woman? It’s harder than you’d think, I’m not sure anybody would like to be thought of as tame.
      I could just try to think up the name of a friendly woman, I guess, but again, I never met many of them either 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s something to be said for hessian (or similar plant-based materials), even if it does eventually rot back into the ground. Or, especially as it eventually rots back into the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what I thought. After all, we have shopping bags made of jute or something. I’d like to be convinced that using this vinyl material was necessary. I don’t know, maybe jute or hessian would only last 2 minutes, but I’d like to understand their reasoning.
      If I have something made sustainably, I don’t necessarily mind replacing it every year.

      Liked by 1 person

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