True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Five years, six coops. 
How did this happen?
The first coop I built, as I recall, was pretty darn perfect.  It kept the young ladies safe and comfortable, and it looked rather adorable in the backyard.  
When Lucy's feet were damaged by disease, of course I had to build the Special Needs coop for her.  It, too, looked good and served its purpose.  

With no reason to build another coop, I started sketching and building chicken-tractors and play-structures and cage-things... 

....because you can never have too many tractors and play structures and cage things.

But when my little barred rock, Pigeon, came along, she and I needed a project. Pigeon inspired me to build just one more coop.
Pigeon was a good little helper.  

Here's Coop #3.
Pigeon never lived in this one. Nobody ever lived in this one. Though my heavenly blue morning glories lived ON it.... and it did serve as a handy jailhouse for Lil'White on the many occasions that she deserved incarceration.  

The flock grew, as flocks do, and I decided that my precious ladies needed a more glamorous, palatial space. I found myself sketching again....
and I found myself sawing and drilling and wrestling hardware cloth again.

Coop #4 was bright and spacious, 
with a 12' x 5' covered run and a big picture window.   A few months later, I added an 8'X8' back room.  This was it. This was perfect. I was done. Ta-da! 

But still, coops kept on happening. 
I don't even know why I built this little thing.  

Lucy does love to get herself wedged into the front porch, though, and Daisy once laid an egg inside.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

Two years ago, when that freak October snowstorm hit New England, an oak tree crushed the little red coop I had built with Pigeon. 

No chickens were harmed, as it was still vacant.  But my confidence was absolutely crushed. From that night on, I lay awake wondering if my ladies were safe, or if they'd be the next victims of a plummeting tree limb. 

I wished I'd built my coops out of two by fours instead of toothpicks.

This spring I took the plunge and sprang for a solid prefab structure.   

It was a rather ugly 6X8 shed made of two by fours and pine planks -- but it was a structure that could stand up to the perils of an oak forest.
As soon as it was plunked down into the yard, I revved up the ol' saber saw and extracted that tiny front window.  No tiny windows for my gals.  They like lots of light and air and a good view.  I cut three more huge windows on the south and west sides, too. 

I added a nest box, then built the ladies a 16' X 6' covered run, filled with roosts and logs and feeding stations.  

Meet Coop #5!

Now there was room for the three older gals as well as my four new nuggets. 

....and of course I can always add on.

The new coop was complete. The ladies were thrilled. I was done.  
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

But the nuggets, having moved from my living room into a cage on the back porch, were homeless. They needed a bigger space, but they also needed another month or two to grow - in size and in smarts - before I tossed them into the big coop with those scary old ladies. 

I fought the urge to drag out the tools, but then I met a neighbor who had some nice windows to sell for $5 each. 
They were really nice windows.
I bought one. 

I designed a little coop around it, 
made with scraps from coops gone by.

Introducing Coop #6!
Daisy approved.

I put the little ladies inside, showed them where to roost, and locked them up for the night.  

The four little pullets slept in a piggie-pile in the corner. 

The next night: 
They still didn't figure it out. 

Night three: 
they discovered the roost.

Night four: 
Well done, little ladies!

Was I done?  
I turned their little coop into a chicken-tractor with a sidecar.  

Am I done now? 

...til my power tools recharge.


  1. You are so talented, Lauren!!! Love all your coop creations! And the "piggie-pile" pic is too sweet!

  2. you are a coopaholic. I think I am a turtle pondaholic

  3. I just adore your art and writing talent!. Look forward to future posts!

  4. Oh, I just grinned my way through this whole post! Such delight!!!

  5. Awww....what a super sweet post! Love your piggie pile and awesome coop designs! You are so inspiring! (^_^)

  6. I so enjoyed this post. Need one everyday.

    "Piggie Pile" is the best. I'll be looking for occasions to use it.


  7. Few words--just cool. Love your art & ambition.

  8. I have never come across such a coopaholic before. What a lovely post, such a sweet journey. can't wait to see more of your nuggets.

  9. You are so talented! I love this post and evolution of the "coops." Keep on posting! ☺

  10. A true DIY-er does not know the meaning of the word 'done'. :)

  11. Well done (for now), Lauren! Might I suggest a cupola and a homemade weathervane?

  12. Yay for new coops!
    I LOVE these stories!
    Thank you Lauren!

  13. Your coops are wonderful. I'm still finishing my 1st coop, but imagining others. I can now see where this is going to go for me.

  14. great story - all the coops were works of art and I love the pic of Marky resting in front of's hard work being top dog among all those gals

  15. So good to read your posts again! Your energy, talent & devotion to your girls are inspiring!

  16. This is too funny! I love seeing how much you care about your girls. It just warms my heart to know they have such a happy life with you. All your coops have turned out so great - I wish I could build like that! :)

  17. I adore your new coops, Lauren! You are so very clever, I could never build anything so lovely x

  18. And why stop now? Recharge!
    'Rehab is for quitters.'

  19. What an adorable story! Loved all your designs! And your cartoons!

  20. LOVE this! Glad to know we are not alone in our chicken adventures and addictions!

  21. You are one crazy delightful lady!!! What a fun read and I do wish I could see the yard in person.

  22. Impressive! And inspirational.

    We have 3 coops now (and need a fourth).

    Being inept at such things, I didn't build any of them myself.

  23. Hi Lauren, this is off topic but I wondered if you could help. I have a friend with a five month banty orp and she thinks she has mareck's disease. She thought it was a stroke at first but with further research thinks it may be Marecks. She seems a bit paralysed down one side. She is separated at the moment and my friend, like you, would do anything in her power to help. She is worried about the rest of her flock and about how to help Charlotte. I have told her to read your blog. Can I give you my e-mail in case you can offer advise or in case you could e-mail her direct. I hope you don't mind me asking but you are the only one I know with a "special needs" girl. You can contact me :

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give or even for just listening x

  24. I LOVE your coops! So cute and practical! How long did it take you to put them together? did you have help? Do you have carpentry experience? I don't, but would love to just dive in and build one... as soon I am not afraid I'm going to cut my own hand off. LOL!!

  25. Love this. Thanks for a great talk at the Hanson Public Library and you're as charming as your adorable coops. Thank you.

  26. You crack me up and inspire me at the same time! Well done!!!