It’s summer! We should be doing outside projects on the house, but not much is getting done because we can’t seem to find a carpenter who wants to tackle the exterior of the house. On the inside, the downstairs bathroom, kitchen, and dining room are all essentially done, but we are struggling to track down those last pieces of furniture, artwork, or make those small finishing touches that would allow us to call them COMPLETE. It would be silly to do landscaping right now, because it’s all just going to get messed up when we do the exterior house work. So then we thought, “Well, let’s just rehab the garage/shed! That seems like a doable small project.” As we really started thinking about the work that needs to happen on the garage – install new siding, frame and install windows, build sliding barns doors, and completely remove the front wall and move it back to it’s original location, we realized we probably shouldn’t start all that just a week before going on vacation.
So, this seems like a good time to write a short little blog post about our chicken village! Can we call it a village? It’s just two coops. Maybe a chicken compound?
Here was our first view of the space FOUR YEARS AGO! And this is nothing compared to what it looked like when all the weeds and leaves were in full bloom…
After a lot of chopping, hacking, and sawing we finally got it to a point where we could walk around back there…
The next challenge was the tangled mess of chain link fence, weeds, small trees, plus the hundreds of bricks and cinderblocks scattered everywhere…
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of us trying to heave the fence in one massive mess into the back of the truck. [Edit from Amy: good times.]
The last step was to build a new fence for the back of the yard. Lucy was a big help by moving bits of dirt from one place to another. [Edit from Amy: You can tell this was done not long after we bought the house. Lucy is so little in this picture!]
We were finally ready to place the chicken coop (which we brought with us from the old house) and built a small fence around it.
More recently, we added an enclosed chicken run at the back of the chicken compound and even added another coop.
Before fast forwarding to today, here is that “before” picture again…
We have two chicken coops. We built the yellow one about five years ago. It has an enclosed run and raised nesting area. We eventually added a door on the back of it which gave the chickens access to a newly constructed run along the fence.
That coop has served us well, but we wanted to add another one so that we had a safer and easier way to integrate new chickens to the flock when necessary. We built the second coop last year.
We included an old salvaged window so that we could see into the coop from the kitchen. The clear roof and windows allow plenty of light, but the coop is almost always in the shade, so it doesn’t get too hot in there. In the picture below you can see that there is an access door to the nesting box. They never actually use it to lay eggs – they always do that in the other coop.
On this side of this coop there is a sliding door with an enclosed ramp to the larger chicken run. [Edit from Amy: Backyard chicken enthusiasts like ourselves call this tunnel for chickens a “chunnel”.]
We have a divider in the large run that can be added or removed depending on if we are trying to keep a new flock separated from the established one. We currently have eight chickens and they get along fine, so no need to separate them.
One thing we love is that we can see the chickens from the kitchen window. The brightly colored coops add a lot of cheer to the backyard.
Here are some close ups of a few of our chickens…
This is Fritz. He is a frizzle. We recently confirmed (but suspected all along) that she is actually a HE (a rooster). [Edit from Amy: Our last rooster didn’t last long. We ended up giving him to someone else. We will see how long this guy lasts. When you buy chicks you usually don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. You have to wait and see.]
Here is “Sweetie”… [Edit from Amy: Sweetie is my favorite.]
This is Poof Ball (Lucy named her). As you can tell, she has difficulty seeing anything. [Edit from Amy: Poof Ball is a “silkie” chicken. They are known for their fur-like plumage and of course their afro hairdo. Eventually when she is an adult her hair will poof out so much she won’t be able to see much.]
Not pictured are Boss Lady, Ruby (the rooster), Tina, and one that we still haven’t named.
Having chickens is obviously nothing new, not even to urban areas. But we are always surprised that more people don’t own chickens. They are much easier to care for than dogs, they reward you with eggs, they are always fun to watch, they aren’t loud (unless you have roosters), don’t smell, and really require very little maintenance. On top of that, it’s a small, but great way to teach kids about a source of food. If you are thinking about starting your own flock, we highly recommend it.