I want to fix up the chicken coop. So, I thought I would give you a tour and tell you the improvements I envision and why. Maybe you can lend some suggestions. If you like, I’ll even share your photos or sketches here, whether it’s an existing chicken coop or one you dream about.
Vision: Dress up the facade.
Reason: Not necessary, I know, but I just can’t help dreaming about an attractive hen-house.
Vision: A small running pen to the right of the coop.
Reason: When I buy chicks, I keep them inside the coop until they are old enough to go into the existing running pen during the daytime. In the mornings I have to: 1) lock the older hens out of the running pen, 2) shoo the chicks out of the coop into the running pen, 3) secure the hatch between the two quarters so they can’t go back into the coop, 4) open the coop door so the adult chickens have access to the nesting boxes, 5) rotate the different feeders and water jugs, 6) repeat these steps in reverse before sunset.
A second running pen is also a plus for when I need to keep a chicken separate from the flock because it is ill and being attacked by other hens.
Vision: Enclose the running pen with small-gauged galvanized wire.
Reason: Keep birds from entering through the existing chicken wire and eating the chicken feed.
Vision: Okay, this is where I get a little crazy. I would like the interior coop walls and ceiling painted or covered in a smooth veneer wood or some type of smooth finish. There would also be a need for a hatch door and steps to the running pen I wish to add to the right of the coop.
Reason: Smooth walls make for easier cleaning.
Vision: Add a small closet between the coop and the new running pen for shovel, broom, rake, shaving bag, and a few other necessities.
Reason: Sometimes, the hens get into the shaving bag, knock over tools, and of course there’s occasional poop that drops on something I need to handle.
This rounds up my hatching out a plan–a future project. Suggestions are welcome.
Join me on:
Every morning, when I approach the pasture gate I can hear fifteen chickens and their male mate, Pretty Boy, cluck as they pace inside the pen. When I pull the metal gate the handle squeals and clatters. The chickens quiet and stretch their necks to peer over the short wall and look my way.
By the time I have reached the running pen the hens have clustered by the little hatch door. I get a kick out of their eagerness to wander the pasture for GRUB. What a life. And it is a good life for domestic fowl. Unlike chicken farms where layers are confined to a tiny wire cage or overcrowded “grower houses,” my chickens free range from sunup to sundown.
As it happens every winter, the older hens went through the normal molting period. This is when they lose their feathers, grow new ones, and stop producing. (The young hens will experience their first molting next winter.) I should explain that hens need 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. When the days become warmer and longer, they start lying again.
I have one young, white Leghorn, a breed that produces 280 – 320 eggs per year. While daylight was still short, the Leghorn started producing for the first time. All winter, I gathered one or two eggs per week. When my husband, Joe, saw how few eggs I had gathered, he complained the chickens were useless. I knew better. I also knew better when Joe said the Leghorn would never be a good layer because she has a limp. I had faith in the little gal. One flaw doesn’t mean two flaws. Now that the days are longer, my young Leghorn is producing nearly every day.
PROVING HUSBAND WRONG:
I waited through the molting phase, short wintry days, for the old hens to start producing and the young hens to begin their first egg lying season. I waited to prove Joe wrong. I was like a fox in the shadows, watching and anticipating the right moment. When the hens started lying, I waved the basket filled with eggs in front of my husband and told him to never criticize my hens again. “Everyone needs a vacation,” I said. “And the young hens hadn’t earned theirs yet. But they are now. SEE!”
Lately, after I have let the hens out of the running pen and opened the coop door at least one hen is eager to settle into a nesting box, usually a first-year layer. They are doing a good job. For six weeks now, I have gathered seven to eight eggs a day. One day, Joe gathered nine! Another day, I gathered eleven! The hens will be more consistent as the weather gets warmer and the sun shines down on my flock.
Join me on:
The slow morning sun appears to lift up a dark gloomy sky.
I see a cross in the distant land, a dim image of the sacrificial lamb,
a sign of good times and of great days to come.
I watch the cross.
I imagine the earth rotating silently around the sun.
When all is revealed, supportive lines come into view.
Communication is open through prayerful hearts and man-made wires,
both linked day and night to a symbolic wooden cross.
Join me on: