Eggs like the ones shown here are the reason I wanted a coop and chickens. It doesn’t matter how “protected” they are, I refuse to buy mainland eggs that have been shipped across an ocean, kept in a cooler, then left to sit on a shelf for who-knows-how long before I buy them. Eating these eggs each day is such nirvana to me. Any trouble connected with raising the hens is completely negated the second I sink into the rich yellow of my girls’ eggs.
I have written about and shown my chicken coops in other posts. I’ve also shown the coops of other people whose gardens I’ve visited and written about. This time, I thought it would be a good idea to pull it all together and show you several varieties of coops, and the purpose they serve. As I find more, I’ll post them for you to see.
I’ll start with my own coop. Last March, when my two daughters and one son-in-law came to visit, Harry put together my coop. Here he is, still trying to figure out exactly how to put it together. Fortunately, he is creative and very handy with construction tools.
He was able to take the metal frame of an old futon sofa-bed I had, take it apart, and recreate a useable coop. It is very clean and beautiful here. A friend said “It will never look that clean again,” and he was right! I’d hate for you to see it now, even after I have just cleaned it out!
Here are my girls at one month of age. Because I didn’t have room or facilities to take care of newborn chicks, I opted to get them at one month of age. I got them on April 13, 2008, so they are not quite a year old yet. And the coop still looks clean.
Here is another shot of the coop with the new birds. You can get an idea of how it all works. Harry took an old screen door for the largest part of the coop. It can be lifted and supported on each end for hosing out the coop. The smaller brown lid lifts for getting in and doing smaller stuff without opening the entire top. The nesting boxes are on the left end of what you see here.
Here is a close-up of the inside of the nesting boxes. We closed it off to the rest of the coop until we knew the girls were ready to start laying their eggs. I didn’t want them to just go in there to roost at night, but to know this is exactly where the eggs are to go. Then I put in ceramic eggs so they’d get the idea, which they did right away! I use bags of my shredded paper as nesting materials and they seem to love it. Since this picture, I’ve made it into three separate boxes, rather than two.
As the girls grew larger and started laying, I knew they needed more room than they had in the coop. With the help of a friend, I opened up the opposite end from the nesting boxes and added a nice run. It’s hard to tell much about it here, but maybe you can get the idea.
Oops! Caught in the act of a little screwing. At least I’m wearing my “Sisters of Perpetual Annoyance” t-shirt under my Farmer Jones outfit.
Plans are underway to add another big side room onto this run. Here is the run completely finished and the girls are already enjoying more freedom. On the right end where you cannot see, we put an opening where I can dump in weeds and tall grasses. They love to scratch around in it and find weed seeds or bugs.
You also can see in the above picture the little ladder we created for them to get back up into the coop itself. They never did use it, but they simply fly up. In the next few pictures of other people’s coops, there are ladders even longer than this one. I asked if their chickens actually use them, and all of them said “Yes, they do.” I’m not sure why my girls didn’t want to use the ladder.
Here are shots of the coops from Bob Elhard’s place. I had two posts about his garden, but decided to save the coop pictures for this post. You can see that he has allowed for a lot more headroom than mine. He can actually walk into his coops, and as you can see, he has a long ladder for his chickens – one they actually use!
Basically, he has coops inside a fenced-in area, complete with trees and other growing plants. I love this idea, and it may be something I think about in the future. He can gather eggs from outside the fence. Here is another view of the same set-up. The vegetable beds are not inside the fence, even though it may look like it here.
And yet another view. Bob has used a fairly open wire for his fencing. I’m not sure how he keeps dogs out of his chicken area. So many of the people here in Ocean View have lost all their chickens from dogs that are strong enough to tear apart wire fencing like this. It’s the reason I used a heavier gauge with smaller openings. I think it would be fun to walk among my chickens!
Here is a distant view of Bob’s chicken yard. This gives a better perspective on how tall it really is. The vegetable garden in front and the Japanese bridge add a bit of class to the chickens.
I think I already showed you the coops on McDaniel’s Farmette. Here is a bit more information about them. This first shot is of their “old” coop. I think their chickens still use it sometimes.
click here for larger image
McDANIEL’S OLDER COOP
Here is the “new” coop they built. There are several levels – one for roosting and one for laying eggs. Again, you see a ladder, which their chickens do use. I wish I knew why mine didn’t use the ladder we created for them.
Again, they use a standard chicken wire, but they haven’t had any trouble with dogs getting to their chickens. Also, they let their chickens run loose in the yard. All I can say is that they are lucky!! Even their own dogs don’t bother the chickens.
Maybe this is the best kind of chicken to have, but they don’t lay good eggs – and they aren’t nearly as much fun as the real thing!
Have you kissed your chickens lately?