Oh Darn! How did these chickens get here?!
My obsession with chicks began while I was doing research on pest control. After studying for nearly a year and planning a coop and run, 10 chicks won my heart forever. I had to hurdle an obstacle with my City, however, because I accidentally put my coop too close to the fence and while I had the approval of all my neighbors, a hostile psycho visitor complained to the City which brought the location to their attention. My City was terrific tho, and even though I initially lost all my hens and it took one year to settle the matter, they changed the ordinance and now nobody can complain ever again about my babes. They let me keep my coop and run right where it was.
I think pictures pretty much say it all, so I've posted a bunch here with minimal explanation.
Here is my coop and run. The coop is 8x8x8 and the run is 8x40.
Since I live in the City, the only rooster I allow myself to have is the silent type as you can see here for the sake of my neighbors. The girls pay him no mind.
The gizmo over the coop window is shade cloth I put in a frame to keep the summer sun from heating up the coop. There is also a misting system in the run with the last leg of the system hanging over that same window so any breeze will send cool air inside. In the City, we are supposed to keep our chicks enclosed at all times. However, one hour before dark each day, the girls are let out to graze and do the work they were hired to do - KILL BUGS!!
While I live in the city, my propery backs up to a year around creek and there is plenty of wildlife. I had to make sure the girls' living space was very secure. The coop is built on concrete and the fencing to the run is buried 24" underground. The corregated roofing protects them from the hot sun in summertime and rain in the winter.
On the inside, I hope it is comfortable enough to house them all in inclimate weather, if need be, and they have everything they need to be happy. There is an 11 gallon food grade water tank which gravity feeds to a plastic waterbowl. The cabinet underneath that is storage for food and oystershell. A 22lb feeder hangs under the "poo park" (roost) ad is high enough off the floor so there is no waste. With the roost area raised, it gives them extra floor space if they need to be confined for any reason. I recently added an extra nest in case they wanted to use it. The roost opens up for cleaning and there is also a tiny "garage door" under the nests if I want to shove everything out the door for cleaning the deep litter out. The pop hole is located on the floor between the nests and opens and closes automatically each day. There is also an exhaust fan which automatically comes on when the coop gets over 95° inside to keep the air circulating.
Outside, the run is covered with corregated tin, filled with 4" of coarse sand, with another outdoor gravity fed watering system. Not sure why, but the girls prefer drinking water outdoors. There is a shade cloth covering the 15 gallon tank so the minimal morning sun does not heat up the water tank. Locating the water dish on a cinder block insures the water stays cleaner longer.
There are a few fun things for the girls to play on inside the run, such as an 8' length of 2x4, a pile of concrete blocks and some tree branches way down at the end. Near the main gate, there is a homemade feeder that I use to give them treats. It's just an aluminum baking pan screwed to a 4x4 piece of wood with a wingnut and stuck down inside a cinder block so they can't turn it over.
Each time the run is cleaned,a new layer of DE and oyster shell lime are spread out. Before I can get finished, the girls are usually rooting through it and taking a bath. Of course, my grandboys love playing with the chickens too.
I use my famous "chicken sifter" to sift out the poo into a 5 gallon bucket for the compost pile. It's just a couple old survey stakes with 1/4" welded wire attached. I shovel the sand on, give it a couple shakes back and forth and voila! all that's left is the dried up poo to dump in the bucket. Easy cleaning. The girls get grape leaves for treats when in season. They will kill you for grape leaves, watch out!
The people door is inside the run. Most of the time I keep the door open during the day if I'm homel. They like to hang out there near food and water. The 2x8" board keeps the litter from spilling out the door and is removable.
Now I've a a crazy cat. Her name is Lizzie Borden for a reason. Somehow she has managed to be the guard cat over the girls. Everywhere they go, Lizzie is right i the middle of girls watching them. I guess if I had a farm, she'd be the 'farm cat'.....great mouser!
She just turns up in the craziest places. Who the heck is THAT in MY house??!!
I just wouldn't be surprised if one day Lizzie started clucking. A constant companion she is.
They even nap together. That cat is so crazy, she thinks she has to bring her live catch meals right into the circle of hens to show them how smart she is. But the girls had a surprise for HER the first time she brought out her lunch. Mama chicken marched right up to her, grabbed the headless mouse right out of ther mouth, gave it shake sending guts every direction. This caught the attention of all the other girls who immediately descended upon the remains while the cat just laid there in disbelief with her mouth agape. Was the funnient thing I ever saw. I'm certain that sharing her lunch was not intended.
Sizing up Lizzie. Hmmm, do I jump on her while she's not looking or don't I?
Some great snacks for the girls include all kinds of goodies from the garden: grapes, squash, lettuce, hard boiled eggs, strawberries, yogurt, DE. Looked so good *I* wanted to eat it.
Like all females, the girls are given to a little primping now and again. Their favorite place to sleep is directly in front of the mirror and at times.... well, you know how they are....they like to fight over who gets to sleep closest to the mirror. The three new babies in front rarely mingle with the old girls in back. When the big girls are finally settled down to sleep, they line up on the back row facing the mirror. Crazy I say, crazy.
That's just about it for the Handy Dandy Hen Den. I'll leave you with a couple last shots of my best egg girl and mama, Tubby, a Black Sexlink. She's also the biggest as you might guess by her name.
In my other life where I work full time in an engineering office, oh, not that life - that's no life. I mean my real other life I live at home when I'm not playing with my chickens. I am a soap maker. You can find me making soap most every spare minute I've got. You can find information about the clean life at www.kissofnaturesoap.com. Take a ride there sometime; I think you'll like it.
Happy Chickens, Happy Life.
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