If you have ever considered building your first chicken coop – below is a great Infographic to help you get started.
I made some errors the first go around when we built our first chicken coop and outdoor access pen. Probably the funniest error made was we used the wrong chicken wire size for the outdoor pen, and when I excitedly put my new baby chickens into the outdoor pen, they immediately walked out through the spaces of the wire because it was too large! Duh! My brother, who helped me build it, stood there laughing with me as we witnessed our obvious mistake in action. I remember saying to him, “Well, don’t we have egg on our faces right now?”
Predators Abound in Our Yard
I’ve tried two rounds of raising chickens at my home, but free ranging resulted in another error – the untimely death of my chickens over time by wild predators. My backyard is quiet, wooded, and has a river behind it so the predators seem to hang out there. They would wait for the chickens to return to roost in the coop at sunset and bang, get taken. Not good. And sometimes during the day, hawks would swoop down to get them. Amazing how they spotted them so quickly in our yard.
There was another time when we came home from dinner, and one of our chickens was perched on the railing by our house door. They had never done this before, so we thought – what is this about? My husband carried her carefully back to the coop only to discover a pile of feathers. A predator had been there – and the smart chicken waited at our door until we got home – and they say, chicken’s aren’t smart?
And, I swear, another time, when I was tending to some plants along side the outdoor pen, I sensed something watching me. Not saying I’m psychic, but I remember turning around to look in the woods. Were there predator eyes on me? Could it have been a fox or even a bobcat (we saw one once) waiting for me to leave for another opportunity of a tasty evening meal? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was just my vivid imagination.
Anyhow, the bottom line is, the new chickens will have to stay in the pen and coop this go around. Our outdoor pen is plenty large for them to roam. Once you let them out – they never forget their experience of checking out every area in the yard, including my neighbor’s gardens (another story for another time). It is kind of like when cats have wet food. Do they ever forget how great it is? Nope. Neither do the chickens.
New Chickens for 2014
This year, 2014, I’m in round three of trying again to have chickens at my home with some new rules and changes. I’ve updated my coop based on my learning experiences, won’t allow free ranging (they will have a big outdoor pen and a chicken wagon planned on the agenda for protected roaming outside the coop and pen), and a better equipped coop. Our coop, by the way, is a small standard shed we purchased and modified. We put a door on a hinge in one of the side walls for them to exit everyday; and the door locks at night, and we made roosting boxes out of old antique veggie shipping crates. We added a pole as a perch in the shed too.
Chicken Coop Infographics
I plan to share photos of all later, but for now, I wanted to share a great Infographic on the do’s and don’t with a check list so you don’t have to redo it again, like we have. It shows 46 ideas to help build the best chicken coop.
New Baby Chicks
Below is a photo of my four Rhode Island Red baby chicks being held in a warming coop by my brother until they are a bit bigger to transition to my chicken coop in about a month or so. I can’t wait to have them home soon.
In the meantime, I’m accessorizing the coop – and adding more plants on the outside of the outdoor pen area, which by the way, grow well there because of the organic fertilizer (chickens poop droppings in the soil from my prior chickens). I have a couple boxwood shrubs growing there, some Helleborus, Epimedium, Daffodils (which are coming up now), Azalea, and some container gardens are added here and there too.
Contest to Name My New Chickens
Right now, there is a Facebook contest on potential names for my new chicks. One friend posted, “Kiev”, “Parm”, “Francais”, and “Wings”. I think he was hungry, and of course, being silly, at the time.
We will see – We will have to check out the chickens’ personalities first — and they do have personalities, believe me.
Happy Hump Day Everyone,