Saturday, September 22, 2012

Coop remodel

As promised, pictures of our mini-coop and run expansion project. Mama hen took to moving nests up to twice a day which isn't going to hatch any chicks any time soon. Perhaps she felt that she needed to sit on all three nests??

Here is the dog house we picked up. Cute, isn't it?

Here is the mini-coop painted (mostly) and in place with the expansion in process. We always dig a trench around any expansion and fill it with chicken wire and rocks - keeps raccoons, etc from digging under and getting a midnight chicken dinner.

Here it is from the inside. That funny thing hanging from the tree? A truly amazing fly catcher. I think the day I took this pic the trap had only been hanging up for 24 hours. My new and favoritist defense against flies.

And here it is mostly done! We still don't have anything on the roof but we'll get to that. The people who built the dog house put insulation on the backside. We were going to move it in but didn't. Now we're thinking about just painting it so it's not so ugly.

Here we are on the inside.  It didn't seem like the expansion would give them that much extra space, but when it was done it did seem so much bigger. I moved the nipple-waterer (the bucket) to a different location where more of them can drink from it.  See one of our "chick" roosters peeking in to the mini-coop?

I guess it looks a little piecemeal, but when it's all painted it will look better. Not that the chickens care.
Something you can't see is that there is bird netting stretched over the whole open space above - keeps out the sparrows and hawks - and keeps the chickens inside!

And here is mama hen in her new house!  Jeremy did the door a day or two ago. Yesterday evening we drilled in the 2x4s to designate the nest area. Later, if a chicken wants to roost in here we'll put a 2x4 up on top of the standing ones. Voila! Roost!
Anyway, we put that in, filled it up with straw, put in some food and water and went to fetch mama. Jeremy grabbed one egg from another nest that was still warm and the three mama was on. She was so angry when he picked her up!! Leather gloves were a good idea. I made a little indentation in the straw, placed the eggs in, and Jeremy put mama on the nest.  She's been hunkered down there since (except of course to jump up for food and water at least once).
If she manages to stick with it this time - and there is nowhere else for her to go, so she'd better! - we should have up to four new chicks by the second week in October. It's a bit late, but we hope hatching a few chicks will break her of her broodiness.  Otherwise, we'll have to have chicken dinner sometime soon.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


After two-plus weeks sitting on the nest, mama hen decided enough was enough! Maybe she got chucked out by the other chickens one too many times, or maybe she decided the eggs were duds, or... who knows. But she gave up on that nest.

And... moved to the one next door! I guess she wanted a do-over.

Unfortunately, she got a bit excited about the whole do-over business and decided to start over AGAIN four days after that. We're a bit fed up with her wrecking all the eggs. Jeremy has taken to putting on thick leather gloves when he collects eggs at night and taking away whatever eggs she is sitting on.

We might be able to solve this soon though. I've been working on a project to add a mini-coop (tee hee!) to our ever-expanding farm outbuildings. We bought a good sturdy dog house off craigslist and have put it in place next to the main coop. I'm working on extending the run in that area to incorporate a little more space for the chickens and the mini-coop.

The idea is that we put broody hens in the mini-coop to do their business. That way they don't get kicked off their nest repeatedly by our bully Rhode Island Reds, and once the chicks hatch they can stay safe with mama for a few days until they are big enough to venture out. That issue was a bit tricky for us last time so this should solve it. It's an experiment - as everything here tends to be.

The other idea is that if we have a sick or injured chicken, it can be in isolation and recuperation in the mini-coop - instead of in a giant dog kennel in the middle of our living room, stinking the place up. So I'm looking forward to finishing this project.

I'll post some pictures when things are looking better.