Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chicken Coop

Back in April we went to the Tractor Supply store's monthly swap in hopes of finding chickens. We weren't sure if we wanted chicks or hens that were laying already. Part of the problem with buying chicks would be taking the risk of getting a rooster. We can have hens, but no roosters. Part of the benefit of raising chicks (besides being super cute) is that they get used to you, which is great when you want them to get used to being around a toddler. We got lucky and found chicks that we already knew were hens. We knew we wanted a chicken that would lay bigger eggs, but we wanted to find silkies too. Tractor Supply had leghorn chicks, and silkies. Lucky us! We fell in love instantly.

Seriously. I can't handle how cute they are.

Fast forward a few weeks, and our precious baby chicks started jumping out of their box! I'd go in to feed them only to find them all missing. It was time to get them in a coop, but we couldn't decide whether or not to build a coop or buy one. I had my heart set on something nice to look at. It might have not been practical, but I didn't want to look at an ugly hen house when I looked out in our backyard especially now, since we spend so much time out there. We got the idea to try to find a kids playhouse to convert to a coop. We scoured Craigslist, but found nothing but plastic houses, or people who were selling crazy big, crazy expensive, custom-built mini mansions. I love my chicks, but I'm not going to spend 10k on a chicken coop… Sorry gals!

Sam's Club had a playhouse for around $200. It was precious, sturdy, and could be converted into a coop easily. The house was a snap to put together, and with a little ingenuity and a couple of hours our chicks had a new place to lay their heads! We put wire mesh over the windows, locks on the doors and built a couple of roosts. The girls were in heaven! 

A few days later I painted the house white, and the door a nice dark grey.

When they got a little bigger we let them out. Bad idea. Something has pummeled over our fence and they 'fly' over the low parts and into our neighbor's yard. We're hoping to re-fence the yard sometime soon, any maybe then we can let them out. 

Eventually we cut open the back windows and put in a nesting box. We're going to divide the big box into a couple of smaller boxes for them to lay, but we got the bulk of it done. Chance did a great job building this, I thought. We shingled the roof just to hopefully extend the life of the coop. I won't be getting a new day job shingling roofs anytime soon, though. 

We've built a 5'x16' run for them to roam in. We have a sneaky raccoon and a fox that keeps trying to get in, but so far so good!

I just couldn't be happier with how it all turned out. They're lower maintenance than I thought they would be. We put all of our grass clippings in the run and let them go after the bugs. We use them to compost kitchen scraps, and those girls will go nuts over oatmeal or watermelon! 

This is Ethel, one of our Silkies

Until next time!