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.