If you recall, a while back I informed you all that we had gotten some chicks. We purchased four little fluffy babies at Boulevard Flowers back in March and were happily tending them in a plastic tub that was sitting in the corner of my den. Now, I am a tad OCD and having little baby chicks, as cute as they were, living in my house was almost more than I could handle. I literally vacuumed daily, cleaned out their living quarters almost by the hour (the smell), and dusted by the minute, chickens love to scratch you know.
Unfortunately, we lost one to something called “sour crop” and I had to go back a week later to get a replacement, and somehow ended up with two more chicks for a total of five. They were just too cute to resist. There we were, we had two White Leghorns, Maxine and Chloe; two Rhode Island Reds, Petunia and Gertrude; and one Silver Laced Wyandotte, Mildred. I had officially become obsessed with my chicks. I borrowed a circular baby gate from my neighbor and all spring would take them outside and let them play in the sunshine and peck in the grass. They loved it.
All the while, we knew we had to build a coop. My husband decided that he could do it using scrap wood and pallets. Off he went, and boy did he do an outstanding job. It took him about eight weeks, but every weekend he was out in the yard building and adjusting as he went along. He used old swing set parts, the old kitchen cabinets from my mother’s house, the doors from an old hutch, and a multitude of pallets. The only things he purchased were nails, and chicken wire. It looks just like I imagined it would, perfect.
At first, we just had the coop, the little house that the hens live in; we moved them out there when they were about 11 weeks old, when it was warm enough for them to survive. My wonderful husband put roosts inside and built two little nesting boxes for when they were old enough to start laying their eggs. They lived in there and we would let them out to roam the yard (supervised for I am a nervous mother hen) for a few weeks while he finished the chicken run. This took another few weeks. It was hard work; I have never seen a man work so hard on a project with little to no help. Oh, we tried and the children were able to hammer some nails here and there, but Daddy did all of the work. It is his masterpiece!
Now, my girls live happily out in the backyard, their coop door being opened by my husband at dawn every morning. They love to have dust bath’s under the coop and enjoy having their buffet of treats every day (we literally have made them a trough where we put everything from tomatoes to cantaloupe, watermelon, frozen blueberries, cabbage, etc. – the eat it all) and now the first hen has finally started laying She goes into her nesting box and lays a perfect white egg, just like clockwork, I go out and open the lid on the back of the coop and resting nicely in a nest, there it is. Now I just need the other four to get with the program.
If you are interested in raising backyard chickens I highly recommend it. I enjoy teaching my children about raising them and they are just a joy to have around. A good website to visit for more information is www.backyardchickens.com.