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Our little summer project: The chicken coop is finally finished!

Last spring when Jonny suggested, “Hey, let’s get some chickens,” neither one of us imagined that “getting some chickens” would take over our entire summer. This project became the one we both loved to hate; it seemed to go on and on and on. But that is the way all projects go around here. The first step is to choose a project that isn’t on the current list of things that need to be done (and get really excited about it, completely banishing the thought of all the other things that you really should be working on), and the second is to attack it with all your perfectionistic attention deficit glory. Okay, so really those are Jonny’s steps. My job has been to mind the baby so Jonny can work, be really encouraging telling him he’s doing a great job, and to wait until the very last day and sort of blow up over how long the project is taking (does every single nail have to be hammered in with absolute perfection? can we please go on with our lives?) Now that it’s finished I can say that I am grateful to have a husband who can turn even a chicken coop into a work of art. And really, with two children who only recently joined our family, this was just what we needed, something to keep us close to home.
Jonny used a lot of reclaimed materials such as the door to the henhouse which is just an old one we already had.
The posts that hold up the run are a mixture of different woods, some cedar posts which we purchased from an independent saw mill and some black locust posts and old basic planks of lumber which we purchased from our neighbor for a case of beer.

This is the back view. The chickens get plenty of shade from the neighboring forest and the black walnut trees that grow around the coop. I should also add that the henhouse is completely insulated and that helps it stay cool in the shade, and should help the chickens stay warm in winter.

Jonny brought this screen door home from the landfill years ago, knowing that it would be useful, someday. He put hardware cloth across the opening and it gives the chickens some cross ventilation when the main door is open.

The roof panels (to keep the bald eagles out) came from a disassembled feral cat enclosure that I have had for years. It wasn’t really sturdy enough for ferals anymore, but worked perfectly for a roof.

We bought three old windows at a thrift store for five bucks apiece and Jonny hung them on hinges. He stapled hardware cloth across the windows to make the house predator proof even with the windows open.

The roosts are just branches, and the inside walls are sheet metal which was a real pain in the rear for Jonny to cut, but it came as part of the case of beer trade and it can be washed easily.

Those are the nest boxes, there are 12, and as you can see, they are covered in chicken poop.

Outside view of the nest boxes, two rows, hinged doors, so you don’t have to walk through the poop inside to get the eggs. We should get our first eggs in late October. That seems far away, but it will be here before we know it.

The chickens are only 11 weeks old, but they are already so big! We have big breeds though, so they are going to get even bigger. The two on the left in this picture are Americaunas.

Barred rock

Black Australorp rooster, with a Buff Orpington sitting in the door, and the rear end of a Golden Comet on the Right. The Golden Comets will probably be our first to start laying.

One of the roosters. We have three which I believe is two too many.

Golden Comet (red sex link), sweet girls

Harriet, the only one with a real name, barred rock

We call the Americaunas lion chickens because of the tufts of feathers on either side of their face. They are the chickens that will be laying blue/green eggs and they are also really pretty.
So that is it. Our chicken coop. Finally finished. I can’t tell you how hard Jonny has worked on this project. He always likes to read my comments when I post about something he has done. Please give him some comment love! He has really earned it.


My chickens

So I am pretty sure that our chickens amuse me way more than they do any of you reading, so I hope you don’t mind seeing a ton of pictures of them!  I feel like I have done a good job of restraining myself and really limiting my chicken posts.  This is my first time having any sort of farmish animal and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.  I don’t think it will anytime soon either because we are yet to get our first egg.  The girls should start laying around the end of October and then, even worse than tons of chicken pictures, I will be posting egg pictures.
Our roosters are now crowing.  This is hugely exciting for me.  I open my kitchen windows so I can hear them better. It makes me feel all Tasha Tudor minus the fabulous garden and corgis.  I always pictured a rooster tilting it’s head back and opening it’s mouth wide to cock a doodle doo, but mine barely open their mouths at all. They just sort of cock their head sideways and let it out. It is hard to tell they are doing anything at all besides the obvious sound they make. I am glad that I took the advice of a friend who raises chickens and went ahead and got roosters.  Of course we realize that three is too many-we only ordered the two and got the third as some sort of demented bonus.
Our chickens aren’t tame.  They come when I call them because they want me to give them some scratch or some other treat, but they don’t hop in our laps or enjoy being held.  They really are “birdbrained.”  It seems to me that all they think about is eating.  That’s fine because I like to feed little creatures like them and I love the way the whole pack of them chases after me when I go to get their feed.
Even though I really love them, I no longer give kisses on the beak.