We’ve got month old chickens! I have a few things to say about that:
1) They’ve now been living in a bathtub for 4 weeks. With the glow of the heat lamp and their incessant peeping I feel like I’m living in either the red light district or the Green Mile. The novelty of both have worn off, so it’s about time to free the flock.
2) As previously mentioned, bigger chicks make bigger poops. Which they step in. And track all over the brooder (er, bathtub), and no matter how often you replace shavings or pick up after them it’s never enough. Time to take the poop outside, ladies.
3) Bigger chicks also have bigger wings…which they like to flap…with vigor. This plus pine shavings creates a wind tunnel in the tub that shoots pine dust out of the top of the shower and all over the boys’ bathroom. Did I mention I’m seriously allergic to pine? Whose idea were these chickens anyway?!
4) We finally acquired, through the generosity of our amazing friends, the use of an old wooden play structure that their kids had outgrown. Lucky us! Well, lucky me that my husband is still smitten enough to schlep around on a hot September California day carefully deconstructing and labeling a two story playhouse then loading it into his truck, driving home, and re-playing the whole scene to put it back together again. I delivered cold beer and watched from a lounge chair, so really, it was a team effort. Okay, I was pretty useless. And there is actually a whole lot more to the de- and re-construction than that, including plans, tools, and sweat. Things I know about as well as Dutch. I cannot give enough praise to my hubby (or our generous, amazing, helpful friends!) for this work of art. Spoiled California chickens, you have no idea how lucky you are.
Because I suck, there are no before pics of the play structure. Let me paint you a little picture before we begin: Two stories, play area on 1st floor, 2nd floor complete with A-frame roof, telescope lookout, and slide. Swing set to the right, with ladders, climbing wall, and fancy stuff like that sprinkled throughout. Got it?! Ask me to describe a flower and I’d do better, sorry.
So…this is big brother helping out with the deconstruction of the rock climbing wall.
Proud mommy moment when he teaches little bro how to use the screwdriver instead of poking him in the eye with it!
Speaking of little bro, he’s kind of on my page. Easily distracted, and more into flowers. But look at the size of those beauties! (Thanks Chip for the super-seeds!)
Frankie is with us on that one.
Okay, so what you’re looking at here is the almost completed inner coop area. This is where the girls will sleep at night. It truly looks not a thing like the original play structure. If I were my brilliant husband I could give you dimensions, a list of tools, maybe a CAD drawing. But I’m not, which is really too bad for you because this info would be sweet!
My dad just happened to be around this weekend so he helped hubby hoist the mammoth A-frame roof back onto the structure. This roof is about the only thing that stayed intact from the original play house. It’s perfectly beautiful, and such a lovely feature.
Fast forward two weekends, a dozen chicken wire wounds and about that many beers and, voila! It’s like TV magic! I’ll make note of a few logistical highlights here. Note that the top half of the A-Frame was boxed in with chicken wire instead of wood, which provides ventilation for the coop. Very important, I think because of poop and mold and yucky business like that. Seems logical, yea? The right half of the A-frame provides shade for the outdoor Run which is the whole part enclosed with chicken wire. This is where the girls will loll about whenever we are not home and need to keep them safe. When we are home, we plan to let them out to run amok in the yard to feast on bugs and grass. And fertilize our yard with their happy poop! Wheeeee! This is probably also the time to point out that every last piece of wood from the original play structure was re-purposed to build this coop. Talk about engineering genius! I love that the wood was 100% recycled, and donated by friends we adore. Makes me feel happy about the whole project.
This is a good angle to point out the shingles that we added to the roof to keep the girls dry, and also the nesting box, which has it’s lid open here.
A closer shot, where you can see that there are 3 separate nesting boxes built in here, with a hinge for easy egg access. The girls will be happy to share when they begin laying eggs in January or February.
And this, my friends, is the incredible automatic feeder that hubby built. It taps into the sprinkler system so when the plants are watered each day, or every other day, the canister is automatically filled. Brilliant, I tell you! (A little note: the girls decided that the best place to roost was on top of the blue bucket as opposed to the cozy roosting bars safely INSIDE their coop, so we moved the bucket outside of the run area. Easy fix!)
So after the building and before the freeing of the flock, hubby suggested that I give a quick comb through the dirt in the run with our six year old’s super magnet. This is what I found: 3 screws and 27 nail gun nails. Yikes! Needless to say I combed and re-combed for about an hour. Chickens love shiny bits so these could be really bad if any were left behind.
And the moment of truth! I just sat and smiled and watched and smiled some more. I have a new happy place.
But them Bell dropped to the dirt in stop-drop-and-roll fashion. And I kinda’ freaked out.
I was seriously confused and more than a little disturbed by the little chicken faces she was making.
So I fled to the computer, pulled up BackyardChickens.com, and quickly found out that this dust bathing behavior is totally normal, and a sign that she’s happy and well adjusted! So I calmed down. This whole chicken this is JUST like parenting, I tell you.
Frankie had no problem with calm.
I’ll remember this for a long time.
And this is the virgin voyage up the ramp and into the coop! They slipped and slid a bit, but finally made it in.
And, as usual, Zippy enjoyed the view from the top.
Little dude has to give it a try.
And that’s the long and short of it! Sorry not to have more building details for you die hards out there. If you are looking for info, do check out BackyardChickens.com. It’s a fabulous resource, and the only thing that allowed me to sleep at night up till now.
Speaking of sleeping at night, one more thing for those of you who are interested in the minutia…the first few nights that the girls were out we had to actually pick them up to take them out of the run and place them in the coop, up on the roosting bars. Within abut 4 nights they had that part figured out themselves, and now they naturally go roost at dusk. Even if they are out in the yard free ranging, around dusk we can simply close the door to the run as the girls will have already put themselves to bed. See how easy it is! Now go out and get yourself some chickens. So much to love!
Peace out peeps 🙂