What happened though, is that 7 hens went broody and decided to nest in the boxes and sit on the eggs, but the other hens would not give up their favourite nest box and continued to lay eggs. There were over 40 eggs in one box with a guinea and bantam sitting on them. There was little to no chance that with that many eggs, any would hatch because the new ones being introduced daily created cold air pockets and the development would be arrested. Then yesterday, the worst, most disgusting thing happened. Eggs began to explode, rotten, stinking, black eggs!
But did the hens leave? No, not one of them. They continued their stinking vigil. In the first box, an egg must have broken long before that, because there were maggots at the bottom of the box. I was ready to be sick. I had to literally pull the feisty hens off the nest and throw them out of the coop one at a time, bearing the stench, because with the door open, they just came right back in. Finally, all the eggs were out of the boxes and the boxes were thrown out the door. I smashed the eggs and covered them with the straw, because the chickens had already started to eat them - sick! So, I ensured the eggs were all crushed. Only a few had any resemblance of chicks. Most were just rotten.
Finally, with everything out of the coop, I forked out the bedding and then removed the rubber mats. I noticed critters crawling up the wall, thin, black and small. Lice! In the three years so far, there had never been lice in the coop. So after it was clean, I mixed up a spray of clove and lime terpenes, Dawn dish soap and water and sprayed every crevice, because that is where they like to hide. I did not notice any on the chickens though, and there was diatomaceous earth under the bedding and in the nest boxes, but it obviously did not stop the lice. In two weeks, the louse eggs will hatch, so after the coop was spic and span, I closed it for the summer, leaving the window and vent wide open.
Then I hosed down the rubber mats and left them outside because it was raining very hard all day. When the sun is out and everything is dry, I will put the mats in the coop and close it again. In two weeks, I will repeat the spraying and possibly even after that if there is any evidence of crawlies.
Of all the dirty jobs on the farm, cleaning the chicken coop today was the worst I have encountered. I was absolutely disgusted by it. I should have worn a face mask cleaning out the coop, but didn't. I should have worn a gas mask, too. All I was armed with were good coveralls, a hat and gloves and boots. The chickens roosted in the two coops beside that one with the nest boxes. I have yet to figure out nest boxes for tomorrow, but am definitely leaning toward roll away boxes to prevent the chickens from sitting on eggs in them. In the meantime, I did leave the Muscovy ducks on their nests. They would never let a chicken or guinea lay in their nests once they began to sit.
And that is the story of the most disgusting, rotten, horrible job on the farm this far. Gross!