What Came First? The Chicken Or The Coop?

In our case it was the chickens.  We got our cute, fluffy, adorable and irresistible chicks and then had to figure out what to do with them.  This may not be the recommended way to do it but then I have always been impulsive.  Opposites attract so my husband is rational and practical and balances me out, right?

Ummm hmmm.

                                                              So our cute day old chicks got housed in a super large storage tote with a heat lamp providing warmth while we perused coop plans,2013a

Damn those plans looked confusing.

What to do?

  What any self-respecting city farmer with no carpentry skills would do – look on Amazon.

We found a cute coop kit (unfortunately they come in kits so you have to do some assembly) and the ad said it would house 4-6 hens.  We ordered it and it arrived in two boxes with instructions that consisted of a series of drawings, no words.

coopparts

Ummmm hmmmm.

We actually got it put together without any injury or tearing out of hair.  It was so adorable!  We just loved our adorable little coop. unfinished coop

We moved it to a spot in the yard and then moved it to another spot and finally to its final spot.  Because our yard is half sun and half shade, and the sunny part is taken up by my gardens, we placed the coop under some mature shade tress in the back of our yard.  I am so glad we did!   Our girls had a much more enjoyable time during last summer’s heat wave.  Their area was the coolest spot in the yard and they loved the leafy shade.  If you are getting chickens and you live where summers are hot – please put your coop in the shade!

When choosing a spot for your coop besides putting it where there is summer shade, also try if possible to place near some evergreens for a winter wind break.  You will want it close enough to your house to make egg gathering, cleaning and tending to the flock convenient in all weather.  In our city there is a restriction that it has to be 25 feet from the neighbors dwelling.  Be sure to check the rules in your area.

  Finally, when keeping an urban flock, especially if your yard is visible to neighbors, you will want to place your coop in a considerate manner.  Try to keep it attractive, clean and  ADORABLE!

shedcoop

I had visions of a cute, shabby chic, cottage style coop with flower boxes and landscaped loveliness.

First things first though.

.  When using a store-bought coop from a kit there are some modifications I recommend.  First of all, the run area of our coop seemed much too small for 4 hens that we were not sure would be doing any free ranging.  We chose to order another pre-made add-on run but I now realize that building one would not be that challenging.

coopunpainted

  Either way, provide your flock with a secure run, as large as space and resources  allow.  We also elevated the coop on 4 by 4’s and put a ‘skirt’ of chicken wire all around which we secured to the ground with landscaping stakes before covering with soil.  Since we inherited a lot of patio pavers when we bought this house, we laid these around the perimeter as an added protection against digging predators.  We secured any gaps and openings with wood and changed out our hardware for sturdier.  Because we elevated the coop, the original ladder to the sleeping area was now too short so we made a new, longer one.  We  changed out the original roosting bar for a wider one after reading that it would keep the girls’ feet warmer in the winter.  We also raised it a bit and moved it a bit farther from the nest boxes.  (no one wants poop in the nest boxes).  Maybe it’s beginners’ luck but so far our chickens have been healthy, happy and safe.

I caulked all the seams, then painted the coop white with a turquoise roof and named it ‘The Cluck Inn’ which I stenciled on.  I thought a picket fence would be cute so I found some small white fencing at WalMart and hubby helped me screw it all around the run.

006002

I love my little Cluck Inn!

The chickens loved it too, we moved them out there when they were about 10 weeks old.  They were happy and healthy chickens, right at home and ready to grow and mature and start giving us eggs.

I landscaped with stepping-stones, shrubs and flowers and we would sit in lawn chairs and watch our chickens being happy.

2013j

Then I began to worry.  Their run did not seem like enough room for chickens that may not be doing any free ranging.  A gal from our Backyard Chicken Club showed me a picture of a pen she built for her chickens out of landscaping stakes and green wire fencing.  Easy-peasy and almost invisible.

chickensinrun

Perfect!

 They loved the fresh green grass of the pen and in a week all the grass was gone.

  Chicken landscaping!

That’s ok though because all spring and summer when I weed my garden I toss the weeds into their pen for them to scratch around and nibble.  I may start asking neighbors for their weeds!  (as long as they don’t say ‘you pick ’em!’)

I plan to put shrubs, ornamental grass, large planters or SOMETHING around the pen so it wont be an eyesore for the neighbors (honestly I do) – something rural farmers don’t have to worry about.

  Each morning we let them out into the daytime pen, and each evening when the sun goes down they go inside the coop to roost and we secure the coop door.  If we sleep in or are not around in the morning to let them into the pen, or if the weather is cold or rainy and they just don’t feel like going out, they still have the secure run to keep them from being ‘cooped up’ (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Later last summer hubby built a roof over the ‘add-on’ run to keep it dry when it rains or snows.

Chickoncoop

(Ummmmmmm………Martha……..you have to be IN the run to benefit from the roof!)

Last fall when the garden was harvested I got brave enough to let them free range in the yard part of the day when I am around to check on them. They love it and it is becoming a permanent habit although I need to find a way to protect my tender flower sprouts and vegetable garden this spring.

So……………. coop……………… run…………….daytime pen…………. occasional free ranging……………..everything is complete now,  right?

Wrong!

It will NEVER  be finished!

After just one year I have a huge list of things I want on my next coop – the new and improved Cluck Inn.  I have pinned zillions of  coops on Pinterest.  I am collecting pallets and lumber. This time around no store bought coop – I am confident that we can build it!

 I even dream about coops!

coop4

coopdream

coop6coop5

From experience I now know that I want a ‘person’ sized door for easier cleaning.  Of course I need a larger coop so I can have more chickens (there’s that chicken math kicking in again).  I want a taller secure run and a more secure and attractive daytime pen.  I want a pitched roof and a gutter/rain barrel system.  I want landscaping so it is attractive in all seasons.

And yes, I still want those darn flower boxes.

coopflwrbox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. azkricket
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 22:09:20

    i don’t have my chicks outside yet and am trying to be patient while my son in law turns a mare barn into the “big coop”. After reading this my mind has decided that decorating may also be in my future!
    Thanks for the info and pictures. You have been doing a great job. Can’t wait to get started!!!

    Like

    Reply

  2. slcriger
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 20:45:00

    great blog….i want more chickens….cool coops!!!!!!!!!!

    Like

    Reply

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