Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Girls Get a New Coop

Coriander and Cilantro finally got some new digs. My husband and I, well okay, mostly him, built a new chicken coop or hen house. I can say hen because He says I can’t have any more roosters...but before you start feeling sad I will tell you that it is okay.

I love to hear a good rooster crow first thing in the morning and one of the evil twin hens actually crows. No kidding - I have recorded it and have witnesses that can attest to the validity of that statement. It is so cool, who knew? God is So Good!

The chicken coop is special to my husband because it didn’t cost him a dime; only his (and my) time and labor. At first he wanted to build something of an A-Frame style…probably because it is functional and easy. When he presented the idea I guess he figured out right away I wasn’t a fan. I explained that it kind of made sense but that style just didn’t have any ‘cute’ factor. If I have to look at it and visit it a couple of times a day forever (or as long as I have chickens) then I would like a something a little different.

He asked me then what I thought and of course I was prepared. I gave him my laundry list of wants.
1. A hinged window where I could see them and they could watch the world go by from their perch and I could open up for ventilation on hot summer evenings.
2. A hinged screen behind the window to keep the girls safe and could swing in for easy access to the coop for cleaning or whatever.
3. A nest box on the outside of the coop level with the floor (so baby birds couldn’t fall out) with a hinged roof for easy access to gather eggs.
4. Boards spaced about an inch apart for the floor with chicken wire stapled to the underside so predators couldn’t get in.
5. A planter on the front where I could put hens and chicks, Sempervivum tectorum…I wasn’t asking for a living roof after all.

He simply looked at our pile of recycled and on-hand materials and said we would have to go scouting for more stuff to make it happen. So, we went over to our friend Paul’s house and rummaged through his leftovers from various DIY projects and found all kinds of cool things we could use; tin, a window, rough sawn planks, and a couple of spindles the dog had chewed.

Another friend, Cindy cleaned out her garage and contributed some more wood scraps to our growing pile in the driveway. She also consulted on the mechanical aspects of making a comfortable home for the chicks while making it easier to clean up….like leaving a space between the floorboards so I could just hose out all the chicken by-product down the drain if you will.

Now we were ready to begin. Because I want to have 6 hens we knew it would have to be at least 12 sq feet. But that really didn’t matter because the piece of tin we absconded with was 3’ x 4’ and that was a perfect roof piece – lucky for me and the girls…exactly 12 sq feet. So that piece of tin was the beginning of our zero cost coop journey. My engineer husband sketched out a rough drawing on the back of a used envelope and we were off and running. It was a challenge at times to piece together a coop to my specifications without running out to the hardware store but my hubby made it happen in just a few short days.

The girl's new coop was ready and waiting. We were giddy with excitement partly because we wanted to see their reaction and mostly because they would no longer roost on our bathroom widow sill by the back kitchen door. It seems they took up residence there while I was in Switzerland last month…hmm, who thought that was a good idea? Chicken poop on the porch…Interestingly they chose the bathroom window sill don’t ya think? Chickens have a pea size brain but sometimes I think they must use a tad more than the 8% we do.

With great ceremony I swooped up both chickens and opened the window and pushed back the screen and let them in. Then I had the brainy idea I needed to put one on the perch with a view. As I put Cilantro on the perch, Coriander flew the coop right through my pretty window. No respect. No worries I knew where to find her shortly as it was getting late in the day. You guessed it perching on the window sill. I grabbed her and told her she was going to love her new home. I gently put her in and stood back to watch. Cilantro was singing in the nest box twirling straw, getting everything just right for her egg. Coriander went to pacing and whining; funny how they have such different personalities.

A few days later, our four year old grandson came for a visit. He couldn’t wait to see the evil twins in their new coop and look in the nesting box which was just the right size. He opened the roof and saw three perfect eggs and the look he gave me was priceless! We gathered them up and took them inside where BaBa made an omelet with ham, cheese and lots of veggies from the garden …Yum, yum nothing like fresh eggs first thing in the morning.


meemsnyc said...

The new coop is lovely! I love how you were able to use all recycled materials. I love the window too! I have been looking for windows like that for a cold frame. They are hard to find here. I'm sure your hens will love it.

Cindy Shapton said...

Thanks! Hope you find windows, I've been told to check with companys who replace windows.
Getting new chicks today, so excited :)

Lola said...

Thanks so much for the info. We didn't have such nice buildings for the chickens when I was a kid. Wish I could have a couple where I live but town doesn't allow. Great job using recycled material.

Cindy Shapton said...

Sorry your town doesn't allow chickens Lola...with the green movement more and more cities are allowing folks to have a small flock. Although usually not roosters! Thanks for commenting :)