Build, Food

Plunging Down the Poultry Path

A big part of moving was finding a municipality that would allow us to keep chickens. We moved in August 2012 and spent the first few months making interior improvements to our fixer upper. When spring sprung in April, it was time to build the chicken coop. While I toyed with designing and building a coop from scratch, I didn’t have a ton of time on my hands (with an infant, etc.), so I ended up picking up a base plan from The Garden Coop. Glad I did too. The plan was great. Well documented, but flexible. I ended up making a few tweaks from the base plan – moving the chicken entrance door and how some of the interior was constructed – but overall the plan was solid. I highly recommend it.

It took parts of 5 weekends to build. I had about 2 days in that period that I could focus on the build, otherwise is was 2 or 3 hours here and there. From the start, I gave myself a deadline by ordering 3 Black Australop and 2 Red Sex Link chicks from MyPetChicken.com that were due to be delivered June 4th. I ordered lumber for delivery and boned up on keeping poultry by reading a few books and visiting backyardchickens.com. In the end, things went rather smoothly overall.

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The foundation was easily the most difficult part. The area was sloped and the ground was frozen when I started. Eventually, I got everything leveled and the basic frame erected.

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Next up was the roof. The polycarbonate panels were remarkably easy to install and should last forever. I went with a semi-opaque version that will block direct sun yet still let a lot of light in.

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Shown with some of the siding installed above. Wrapping and securing the hardware cloth was the second most difficult part of the build, but worth it. It extends a foot into the soil and I have stone all the way around the base on top of that. Theoretically, this thing is predator-proof.

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Here it is in its final glory, ready for the girls to arrive.

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Here’s a recent shot, with the ladies enjoying their coop. You can also see the grass-joint flagstone walkway I recently installed.

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Here’s my daughter checking out the chicks. She’s named them for us. Meet Pipsqueak, Uno, Tootsie, Nugget and Chancellor Puddinghead. (I know, I know…)

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Dang, these chicks grow fast. Here they are at about 3 weeks old. Gangly teenage years.

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They’re not quite to laying age, so the benefits of keeping aren’t fully realized yet. The biggest plus to date has been having a place (other than the compost bin) to use our food waste. These girls are voracious omnivores. Our new nutrient cycle is: Food Scraps U+2192.svg Chickens U+2192.svg Poo U+2192.svg Compost Pile U+2192.svg Food U+2192.svg Repeat…

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The ladies roosting. Chancellor Puddinghead (The Red Sex Link on the left) has become the top hen of the pecking order. She’s bold and curious. The others follow her lead generally.

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A detail of the interior clean-out door. This allows you to clean out the coop while keeping them contained in the run.

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Devouring the leftover pancakes from this morning’s breakfast.

So far so good. The next few weeks should produce the first eggs from the coop. Then we’ll see if all of the work has been worth it! I must say, now that it’s all built, the “keeping” part is rather low maintenance; food, water and an occasional clean out.

 

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