Our Coop Construction, 2007-Present

It’s time to get ready for those backyard chickens! I’ve encountered a few people who are thinking about building a chicken coop recently, so I thought I’d re-blog this post about our chicken coop construction process. It looks like I did the same thing last year as well. If you want more information on chicken keeping be sure to click on the Chickens category in the menu at the top of the page. Most of my posts about chickens can be found there! Michele

The Salem Garden

Good almost spring morning!

I seem to be encountering lots of people who are planning to build or buy a chicken coop these days so I thought I’d share an overview of ours as it was constructed.

We didn’t exactly plan the coop before our first batch of chicks arrived in 2007 so our pullets (young chickens) lived in our basement for several months during construction. I don’t recommend that at all. You will save yourself a huge amount of anxiety by building or buying a coop before your chicks arrive. We kind of go with the flow around here but those few months were quite difficult. Fortunately we were totally in love with our brand new chickens so we all got through it together.

Okay, here goes:
IMG_0440The garden, pre chicken, around 2006.

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The very beginning… The corner posts were placed into holes dug approximately two feet into the…

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It’s a Yard Party!

To keep them safe, the chicks had spent most of their time in the chicken tractor until the other day. Michael let them out in the yard for a few hours and they had a blast!

IMG_5434 The first order of business was figuring out how to get out and how to get back in

IMG_5436which is not an easy thing…

IMG_5440 Really sisters, come join us!

IMG_5444 Or maybe we need to go home..

IMG_5445 But how?

IMG_5473No worries, we’ll come your way

IMG_5454Iris to eat, how tasty!

IMG_5478 Or just good old bugs in the grass.


IMG_5487I think I’ll learn to fly in all of this open space…

IMG_5491Mr Mallard stopped by for dinner.

IMG_5497 He’s beautiful and he knows it!

Mrs Mallard flies into the scene... Mrs Mallard flew in as well.

Dear, Dear... please use caution around the young onesMr Mallard said “Be careful around those young one’s dear!”
I'm not afraid of these young whipper snappers!She’s loves him but she’s very independent. I think I heard her say “I can more than hold my own with these young whippersnappers!”

IMG_5504The chickens didn’t seem to worry too much about the ducks visiting. Maybe that’s because Mr and Mrs Mallard often say hi as they walk past the tractor.

IMG_5506 Time for dinner…

IMG_5508 He always stands guard when she eats. It’s really cute!

IMG_5510Time to go home, this yard is a little too crazy for us tonight!

IMG_5516No worries, the chicks will keep things hopping…

IMG_5517Hey sisters, I think there’s something good over here..

IMG_5518On second thought, let’s head over the fence and look for some lettuce seedlings. I hear their really tasty!

Or not, depends on your palate 🙂

The party went on until they went home at dusk.

Those young chickens love to party!

I was ready for bed at nine 😉

Michele

 

 

Out In the Tractor!

 

Today is the first day that it’s been warm enough for a little jaunt to the yard. I wish I’d had my camera ready when we put the babies into the tractor. They were so cute, running and flapping and scratching. Usually by this age the chicks are very familiar with the outdoors but this little flock hasn’t experienced that since it’s been so cold.

IMG_5208Here’s our chicken tractor. We use it for lots of things… it’s a nursery, hospital/icu, transition place and even a space for a bunny to enjoy sometimes. Chicken tractors come in handy if your a chicken owner.

IMG_5206Looking in, it’s built as an a-frame with a little house at one end. When the chicks are too big for their basement cage they transition into this full time until their big enough to be integrated into the larger, older flock. Today it’s just a temporary play space for a few hours. Their still living in a cozy metal cage in the basement.

IMG_5195As you can see the tractor opens up a whole new world.

IMG_5192Everyone is growing so quickly. Michael was commenting earlier about how our dark cochin seems to be dominant. This is kind of a roosterish look… let’s hope she’s not a he.

IMG_5184The feathers are coming in so quickly…

IMG_5181Winnie stands guard. Stay away coyotes and raccoons!

IMG_5180This little chicken is growing the fastest of all.

She’s too much!

Enjoy everything!

Michele

 

Gangly chicks

I can’t believe they’ve grown this much! Where did the time go? That cute, fluffy stage is winding down fast.  At three weeks old the chicks are looking pretty gangly. This early adolescent age is cute in it’s own way. It’s fun to see the feathers coming and get a sense of how they’ll look as adults.

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Their still in their brooder with towels and a light to stay warm. It’s kind of chilly in our playroom.

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Michael took the cardboard box out to give them more space and added a log.

We’ll put a nice perch in soon too.

IMG_5020Golden-laced wyandotte…

IMG_5021Buff Orpington…

IMG_5022Silver-laced wyandotte…

IMG_5025The back of the golden-laced again, this girl is going to be beautiful.


IMG_5027Our dark cochin..

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The other buff orpington; we need more than one to maintain good balance and we’ll have three when these two chicks grow up

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Here’s our little cuckoo maran. I’ve been trying to give her extra socialization training because this breed is known to be pretty unfriendly. Doesn’t she look thrilled to see me?

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Best friends for life!

That’s how we raise them here~

Enjoy everything!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 




The Lovely, Motherly Cochin

If your deciding on breeds of chicken to raise, another fun possibility is the cochin. Cochins originated in China in the 1800s and are now commonly found here in the United States. Their most unique features are their furry feet and legs and their round, fluffy shape. They are just beautiful girls!

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The hen on the left is a buff cochin and the one in the middle is a white cochin.  While their not widely considered to be good layers we find that ours lay medium sized eggs regularly.

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Here’s one of our current babies who will grow up to be a dark cochin. We like lots of varied colors in our flock so we’re looking forward to adding her in with the buffs, whites and banty cochin!IMG_4589

Our little white hen is a banty cochin. Banties are small chickens who usually look just like their standard (regular) sized counterparts but in a mini version. She probably weighs about two pounds, compared to the six to eight pound weights of the standards.

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She may be smaller than her sisters but she is mighty! She’s also quite a mother-to-be wannabe. She gets broody to the point that we have to take her off the nest at times. Last summer we went through a period when she pulled all of the feathers off of her belly so that she could keep the eggs warmer. They grew back over time but we had to regularly move her out to the run to break the pattern. Broodiness (a huge desire to sit on eggs to hatch them) is a common cochin characteristic and while it’s a little messy and inconvenient, it isn’t a problem as long as the chicken eats and drinks regularly.

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You just can’t go wrong with a few beautiful cochin in your flock!

We love them and you will too!

Happy Saturday!

Love, Michele

Poop-poop-e-doop

That’s what Michael always said when we were dealing with a really poopy diaper back in the diaper days and it’s my first thought when I step into the chicken coop in the morning.

I love to talk about all of the lovely reasons to raise chickens… the eggs, the colors, the educational benefits, the pest control, the fluffy beautiful fun. There is another side to this business though and to be fair and transparent the time has come for me to hit that too.

There is a LOT of poop.

DSC03868Here we go… this is from one night in the coop and it’s just one side of the room. This is a lot of poop to clean up.

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We use this handy dandy scraper. It’s located in a tricky spot, over to the right where I can’t quite reach without leaning into the perch but I manage when I have to. Truth be told, Michael does most of the scraping. I fill in when he’s not able to which was the case yesterday morning because he wasn’t feeling well. So, I finally got these chicken poop photos I’ve been meaning to take.

I’m a pretty spoiled chicken mama and Michael is a very dedicated chicken dad so it all works out.

DSC03877This is what one morning’s poop removal looks like.

We scrape it up every day first thing. I know that not everyone does it this way, you can wait and add hay on top then clean it out less often but we’re kind of daily chicken coop cleaners. About once every four to six weeks we (I use the word “we” very loosely here) do a more thorough cleaning and remove the old hay and put fresh down.

The daily poop goes out to the compost piles down in the woods to break down. We add it to the garden as compost after a year or so.

It’s one of the best composts ever!

Guess I’m right back to the good reasons to keep chickens!

poop-poop-e-doop!

Have a great day!

Michele

Consider the Australorp

IMG_7674We love our australorps. They’re classic chickens… very beautiful, good layers, just nice to have around. One of ours tends to wander a bit more than the rest of the flock. I once opened our front door to find a neighbor whom I had never met, coming by to tell me that one of our chickens was in his yard. I went to check on it and there she was several houses and some woods away, foraging in their grass. DSCN0312

They begin life as multicolored chicks.

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Before you know it that baby will have become a stunning hen.

It’s amazing how that happens.

Consider the australorp if your choosing your breeds today!

Michele

They’re Here! Baby Chicks 2014!

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What could be in this box?

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Maddie thinks it sounds familiar

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She’s heard this before…

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Yay!! Two buff orpington, a cuckoo maran, a dark cochin, and one gold and one silver laced wyandotte…

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Soon they were safe and sound in our new brooder.

We made it from a bunny cage for protection with a brown box inside, light above and towels for warmth. I think it’s going to work. I’ll keep you posted..

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The chicks were hungry and thirsty…

IMG_4860IMG_4861IMG_4864IMG_4865IMG_4859and ready for a nap.

Actually I think we’re all ready for a nap.

More to come soon!

Michele

The Chicken Bucket

One of the most important parts of our role as chicken keepers is to provide food for our girls. We do feed them chicken feed and I’ll talk about that at some point, but we also collect everything that we don’t eat into a handy plastic container known as “the chicken bucket.”  The chicken bucket is absolutely central to our kitchen’s function. If we don’t  have one on the counter, even for a minute, all food production and clean up comes to a halt. If it’s been taken out to the coop someone immediately replaces it with a new container so that we’re good to go for the next few hours. We feed our chickens almost everything that we don’t eat with the exception of uncooked potato peelings, citrus fruit and chicken. We don’t feed the chickens chicken… that just feels wrong.

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Feeding them lots of scraps helps to keep our feed bill down. We eat a pretty well balanced diet so I like to think that it also gives them some balance and variety.

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It might help with socialization skills too.

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Anyone holding the chicken bucket is always made to feel very welcome and loved.

There are many joys that come with having chickens and watching their reaction to this is near the top of the list!

Enjoy everything!

Michele

ps/ 12 more days till spring! 🙂