I needed some more bedding straw - which I use in their nests only, its too expensive at $14 a bale for them to scratch around in - and although you can buy a plastic bagful, it works out to be much more expensive. So, I bought the bale and took it home.
I lugged it into the pen and broke off what I needed for the various nesting boxes and that left me with a, well, almost full bale of straw to store. If you have chooks, you are gonna have rats and/or mice. Its all part of the game. Our neighbours have chooks that back onto our chooks - so there is no way that we will be rat or mouse free (where are those carpet snakes when you need 'em??) So I'm not allowed to put the bale in the garage and move any potential rats/mice condominiums into the house.
If I leave it outside, even though we are having a mini drought, its definitely going to rain on my expensive bale of straw - Murphy's Law is strong in my world. I didn't have a spare tarp to put over it, and then I spotted the perfect item in our "to be thrown out" pile...
Here's what I did...
I put the bale up against the fence where there is some overhanging branches to give it all the protection that I could muster and then poked the broken handle into the bale. Its not going to stand up to a really big storm but should protect the bale for a lot longer than if it was just left outside all the time. The chickens still have a bit of a peck at the edges of it - but over all, don't seem to like the colours or texture of the brolly or something and so leave it alone.
I don't use sugar cane mulch in my pens at all. I find it harbours or encourages leg mites which look terrible and must really hurt the chickens. I was for ever treating my chickens (tea tree oil applied with a small paintbrush to the legs) until I read somewhere that sugarcane, although cheap, was probably where my leg mites were coming from. Since I swapped to leaves of any description, grass clippings and roof sweepings (We sweep the leaves and stuff off the roof into the chook pen) they have had no leg mite at all!
Green-ness: 5/5 for not using something new.
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for not spending a cent and reusing an item that was going to the dump!
Time cost: Ohhh about 15 seconds! (10 minutes of looking for something to do the trick doesn't count does it?)
Skill level: I'm not sure there is one!
Fun -ness: Looks really funky in the chook pen!!!