Best done solo

There are certain jobs around the ranch that are best done solo. Unfortunately, there are few chores around the ranch that can be done solo. I just finished cleaning the goat shed and Icelandic coop with the help of 23 chickens, 2 goats, and 2 emus, one of which was sprayed by a skunk three days ago. It all starts from the time I go outside. There is a welcoming committee comprised of nosey biddies. Their job is primarily to squawk and complain because I am moving too slowly.

They are easily distracted by a handful of hen scratch tossed on the ground.

Once the chores in the small chicken yards are complete I am free to go on about my business. Or not. There are not many animals as curious as an emu. They have to know what is going on everywhere, all the time. That probably explains why Stuart was sprayed by a skunk. BTW, feel free to comment if you have any experience getting the skunk scent off of an emu.

Can you smell him?

Yesterday I re-homed two of the fainting goats, leaving us just two, Laverne and Shirley. Thelma and her sister Louise (Satan) went to live with a family that includes a little boy named Collin and a pygmy goat that needed friends. I realized upon entering the goat shelter this morning that it was in serious need of a good cleaning. I gathered my rake and shovel, rode the Polaris out of the barn and returned to start working. My crew began to assemble.

Before I knew it we were all crammed into the goat shelter; me, two goats, two emus and various and sundry chickens. The stench of Stuart filled the air. I began raking and moving things around. Before long, I found several stashes of rotten eggs.  They were hidden under the goat platforms, buried in the hay feeder, and tucked inside cement blocks. Suddenly I began to worry that the stench of Stuart might actually be one of the more pleasant things I would smell this day. I carefully loaded the egg bombs into a pail for transport to the trash.

I raked and shoveled and loaded the mess into the back of the Polaris and drove it to the back of the property. I have a sort of open air compost pile back there. The emus chased the Polaris, stood in front so I couldn’t move and ate stuff out of the dumbed.  The chickens scratched around and flattened every pile I raked up. The goats forced me to move the Dogloos while they were inside. Eventually we finished and ended up with a nice clean shelter.

 Laverne was happy.

 Shirley was happy.


For the next two hours I cleaned the Icelandic coop. Remarkably, I only had to deal with emus and chickens on this project. The goats stuck their heads in the door from time to time but they were too smitten with their clean shelter to care much about the coop. Stuart and Louis wandered in and got in the way. They stood in the doorway preventing me from depositing the soiled shavings into the dump bed of the Polaris. They pulled things off the wall in the storeroom. Stinky Stuart found a barbecue grill brush on a leather strap which he swung around hitting me in the face. When I finally finished cleaning the the coop, Isi, my lead Icelandic rooster brought the girls in for a coop tour as he always does.


I think he tells them he commissioned the work. The entire time I was cleaning the coop this girl stayed in there with me. Most of the time she kicked apart the piles of shavings but occasionally she would get on the roosts over my head. You never want to be in a coop with chickens over your head. I shooed her off with a broom more times than I can count.

When all was said and done, I had a clean goat shelter and a clean coop. Thanks for the help guys! Not.


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Author at The Egg Farm
Let me entice you with mouth watering recipes, gorgeous food photography, and years of experience raising and breeding chickens, emus, goats, and donkeys on a small hobby ranch in northern California
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Let me entice you with mouth watering recipes, gorgeous food photography, and years of experience raising and breeding chickens, emus, goats, and donkeys on a small hobby ranch in northern California


  1. Skunk off is the best. I had a boxer that was convinced that skunks loved her, so i’ve gone through lots of it, and anywhere the liquid touches, it completely removes the smell and it doesn’t come back.

  2. The Other Mary says:

    Mary, What a great group of “helpers” you have!! When I clean the coops here, there are always several pullets and hens that hang around the doorway fussing at me to finish so they can get into the nest boxes or up on the roosts. It always feels good to get it clean…even if it only lasts a short time!

  3. Wow Mary- what a day! The inside of your coop is lovely. I wonder how long that will last- haha.

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