/ 18.5.11 / 5 Comments / count , country living
WIP Wednesday… Sprucing Up the Chicken Coop and Barn
I have a confession to make..really..it’s an addiction. Yep, and I’m not about to give it up!! It’s chickens..I ADORE chickens!
And I don’t mean these kind either…the REAL ones who peck all over the front yard and lay lovely delicious eggs every day. :o) Sadly, these cute yard decor chickens from my mom and sister are all I have right now. Cute..but not the same thing at all!
I haven’t talked about it much here at Comin’ Home because we haven’t had chickens the last couple of years, but I have a secret nickname that I’ve never told you…”The Chicken Lady”. That’s because I got so many people at church excited about chickens a few years back. It's funny how many people, even in town, are raising chickens. And their coops are just adorable!
Tracie at Fishtail Cottage posted photos of hers and wow--I was just a little bit envious. Isn't it darling? I'd love to paint some flower graffiti or something on the outside of the barn that is the 'coop' part..but I doubt my stoic hubby would allow that. You should drop by Tracie's to see her garden party tonight. She takes such stunning photos of her carefully tended flower garden and yard.
Honestly, though, it’s sort of crazy because we’ve lived in the city all of our lives up until seven years ago when we moved out to Willis…or should I say to the country because we don’t actually live in any city.
I didn’t intend to become infatuated with chickens..but as we drove past yard after yard of people with chickens happily pecking in the grass…chasing each other (whoever happened to have caught the last bug)…and generally just being chickens…well I just fell in love! I wanted chickens. Please honey?!!
Finally, after begging and praying for several years..I got chickens for my birthday. Oh heaven! We just got a few chicks because my hubby’s boss’s wife, who grew up on a farm, said it was so ‘easy’ to raise little chicks.
Well…sort of. We put our first chicks in a box we had built for a pet rat. It was long and narrow. It worked for about six weeks. But chicks grow very fast.
These cuties are Lucious (changed from Lucy), Margarite, Marmalade, Java Latte, Henny-Penny, and Freckles.
Before long we were building bigger and bigger homes trying to keep up with our growing brood. We finally built our first ‘portable’ coop known as a ‘chicken tractor’ when the chicks were about ‘teenage’ size.
There are plenty of good directions for how to do this on the internet. Tim loves building small things. My son, Andrew, who adores animals of all kinds, and was my ‘ally’ in the chicken begging battle was a willing volunteer and also helped build the coop.
In fact he helped persuade Tim to buy my first chicks and later some pullets when we discovered that no..hens don’t crow. Five of our first six chicks were roosters. Sigh…
We bought hens to replace them…and later raised 35 rare breeds. Sadly, we had a lot of roosters who would only roost in trees. They each collected their own ‘harem’ and one by one ..the raccoons and possums got them all.
It’s been two years since I lost my last brood. So you can imagine how happy I am that we are finally cleaning and sprucing up the coop!! That’s how I knew this place was ‘the place’ for us. When I walked into the barn there were 30 nest boxes!! Chicken Heaven!!
We raised a lot of chickens in this coop in a barn, but with the last couple of droughts..the foxes have gotten more determined than ever to get inside and eat my chickens. They even dig under the walls. It’s been two years, but Tim said that now that we are home to keep a good eye on everyone and won’t be traveling, that he’s ready to help me fix things up again.
Our first job is to ‘fortify’ the wall’s on the outside of the barn. The forest is right next door. The result of my chicken raising efforts has boiled down to providing ‘forest fast food’ for the local predators. I’m so tired of that. I’m afraid to get attached to my loveys when I know that they are likely to get eaten. I once had 35 chickens and they ALL had names. :o)
We will be laying cement blocks under each wall…like huge tiles..that extend six inches outside and inside the coop. That should deter the predators that want to dig.
Tim and Christian pulled out the nest boxes and burned them. We don’t need 30…and they just end up a big mess. So he’s building just a row of four or five nest boxes.
Without nest boxes, our hens will lay eggs just about anywhere…like in the horse feed bucket. This was our former hens favorite 'emergency spot' to lay an egg. When a girl's gotta go..she's gotta go! LoL!
He cleaned the walls of the coop and the outside of the ‘stall’.
I cleaned all of the heat lamps, feeders, and water canisters and bleached everything. There’s quite a bit of equipment needed to really care for chickens from chick..all the way to hen. And it all needs to be cleaned every now and then. Coops get so dusty and there are bacteria to deal with too.
Yesterday, even though I was sick and felt just awful, I figured I might as well shovel chicken ‘manure’ if I was going to miserable anyway. LoL! I managed about three wheelbarrows full. I was wearing a mask of course. This is not a job for the ‘faint of heart’.
We plan to get the stall all cleaned out down to the dirt layer. There’s lots of decomposed shavings and of course chicken droppings built up. It’s sort of a compost..very dry..and mostly rich soil now. Christian spread it out in the pasture where it will do lots of good for the grass.
Tim will borrow the neighbor’s tiller and till up the coop floor and then work in a big bag of lime. He wants to establish a hard floor to put the shavings on. I’m not sure this is the best thing…and plan to research if lime is a problem. He just wants to make sure things are cleaner. Chickens certainly are messy!
And then we’ve got to build a fence outside for a chicken yard. We’ve tried free ranging..and I’ll still let my girls out in the evening to play in the yard, but the foxes come in broad daylight and grab them and then run. So a good yard is the only solution.
Dear Hubby—such a sweetie!—is planning to install better lighting and hang a box fan for the summer. I’ll be spraying all the walls with insecticide to discourage mites…very important for chickens!!
And then I’ll put in my baby monitor just outside the coop so I can listen for intruders at night. I’m not losing another hen to determined predators in the middle of the night!!
My ‘dream’ is to install a web cam so I can watch my hens play when I’m having my morning coffee or tea. Rebekah and I have sat out in the barn many a morning just to watch them play. They really are so funny and cute! (Not dumb like some teenage males in our family call them.)
Christian’s duty will be to take out any bad guys that show up. Jacob is passing on the baton to him. He has a small caliber rifle and several traps to use.. and if we have a real problem, he may just stand post overnight. It won’t be the first time one of the boys has done that. I used to think raccoons and possums were so cute…but not when they’re killing my hens!
We’ve got a long way to go to get everything ready for new hens..but at least we are making progress. Like everything I do, this will be done step by step..in little bits of extra time.
Working in the barn at night or early in the morning..is one of Tim and I’s favorite things to do as a couple.
We think it’s very romantic…playing country music..and sawing and hammering…working on the barn..while the bonfire outside burns…
I guess you would call it country love… I call it… wonderful!
So what are you up to this week? Most of us are working on something…and I’d love to see your project… sewing, cooking, building, painting, writing, cleaning.. it doesn’t matter. :o)
I think it would be so fun to cheer each other on in our various efforts to make our houses… more beautiful. Just link up to any post..past or present…right here.
PS. If you are at all interested in starting the fun hobby of raising chickens, just email me. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. I’m not an expert..but I have lots of experience!! :o)
Linking with Tracie's Cottage Flora Thursday