Welcome to Wicked Chicks Farm!The beginning....
"I wonder if i can have some laying hens in my backyard...?" hmmmmm......
I'm in a suburban, track neighborhood (yuck), but I have a corner lot and larger than average plot. So, a tractor coop sounds good...something I can move around the yard...organic fertilizer...I read ad nauseum - like I'm possessed. I need a exorcist or at the least an intervention. Everyone says, "You're doing what?". This site is an amazing boost and I thank all of you who have posted because seriously, I have learned everything about construction and chickens from you!
The 2nd beginnng....
THE COOP. I (and good friend, Rusty) build the Catawba tractor coop. I paint it to match my house with the great intention of moving it around my yard. Fertilizer, right?
I order 3 day-old pullet chicks from MPC. One each...BO, RIR, BSL. I'm VERY excited!!!! A week later i call back and order one SLW pullet in addition to the first 3.....
....and...the addiction begins....
I make a brooder from a large plastic storage bin. I cut the top out and cover with hardware cloth, drill more ventilation holes in the sides, insert two perches, fill with pine chips and wait the wait.... They are already named - after characters from the novel "Wicked".
On the appointed day the post office calls and i nearly run eight cars off the road getting there. I'm certain that I'm going to have a coronary while I'm WAITING in line. (the whole time hearing tiny little "peeps" coming from behind the counter). I finally get to the front of the line and tear open the box and inside are 4 of the most adorable, fluff-balls EVER hatched! I'm already showing them off to everyone in the line as I leave. I realize at the same time, how ridiculous i must seem to them all and I don't care! I drive home at a breakneak speed of 15 mph. so as not to jar them.... They move into the brooder, are intoduced to food and water, the heat lamp is adjusted perfectly with thermometer where I can see it. And, the kissing begins.... i nearly sucked the fluff off of them the first week of their lives.
Nessarose - Production RIR (look at that tiny little winglet)
Madame Morrible - SLW (what a face!!)
We settle into a routine and all goes well. The girls grow up and move out to the Catawba after they feather out and the weather is above 60 at night.
Galinda, Morrie and Elphaba
Then, I try to move the coop...by myself...let me just say - that thing has to weigh 250 lbs. It's solid. I drag that THING around the yard a few inches at a time for 6 months. No more visits to the gym needed....
Which brings me to beginning #3---
The new, improved Coop.
I start in November "09. Working every evening after work, alone and with no help, I'm determined to do it "by myself" (stuborn, Irish). I use left over pressure treated landscape timbers with flat side up, as foundation. I read and read and read construction books and every single entry on the BYC Coop pages. (seriously) You are all amazing! I decide on what I want, then - what I can actually achieve with what I have on hand. I use old fence boards from the fence I tore down last yr. I stain and seal everything as I go. I am gifted a used miter saw and it is now my favorite tool. I purchase a new electric drill ("I am Woman"), replacing the old battery one that I thought would work... I'm learning that what kind of tools you own really DOES make a difference. My brother is right. The entire footprint is 6'x16'. The actual coop is raised 2' off the ground and measures 6'x4'x5'H. There are 2 roosts on different levels inside, but they like the actual top framing 2x4 as well, as it is the highest. I had a level area at the back of my yard and it's actually on a base of crushed granite that is part of a walkway. I will put construction sand on top of that at a later date.
I get two walls up and braced....phew!
I progress slowly, but surely and stubbornly until May. A people door!!!!! That Catawba is cute, but OMG you have to be 3, maybe 4 years old tops, to get into the bottom of that thing! And you'd better have your cell phone on you to call 911 to get you out!
While I build, the girls wander and explore...and "help" me. They are also inspired to return their good fortune.
Then, FINALLY!!!!! AFTER 6 (yes, SIX) months and A GENEROUS DONATION FROM A SWEET NEIGHBOR, SAM (who donated the tin roof and labor for installation of said roof), IT IS FINISHED!!!! Thank you, Mama Liz!
Shown above with windows and pop door open. I'm in south Texas, so the coop is 3-sided, opening to the inside, with closable windows on the north and east sides. The Wainscoating I got in the cull bin at HD for $0.25!!! painted with outdoor "oops" paint from HD. The four corners are 4x4's cemented a foot down. The hardware cloth and hardware were the most expensive part of the project and the only things that I bought new. I scrounged old lumber. I did have to buy the 4x4's and some of the 2x4's. It still cost much more than I anticipated, but since it was spread out over 6 months, it didn't seem so bad! I stopped keeping track of how much I was spending as I was well committed to the project and just plugged along. Went to HD on my lunch hour and checked the cull bin. I put the 2 nest boxes on the outside which has turned out well for me. The pop door is directly below them.
The north side with window propped open. The bottom door swings down for clean-out - it works out well, as I can roll the wheelbarrow up to it, open the door and rest it on the edge, stick the rake in and pile it on. It goes straight to the compost pile. The bottom is storage and is completely wired closed with cinder blocks around the back side and under the coop. It now holds the 3 metal cans with feed, scratch and DE.
From inside, looking out.
From inside, looking into coop with the north window open.
And another view, because I'm so darned proud!
We pass the year 2010 in relative peace and contentment...me and my girls.
Backyard BBQ's (with startled neighbors), etc.
Then, quite unexpectedly....the URGE....
The thought process:
"I have this perfectly good Catawba coop just sitting empty in the backyard....and I already have a brooder...."
Then...BAM!!!!! I find myself leaving the same Post Office with a box of 3 NEW EE CHICKS!! THANKSGIVING GIRLS!! Happy ME!!!!!
MEET THE NEW GIRLS ON THE BLOCK!!!! :
I find them (EE) much more active than the first four. So, I build a new brooder with cardboard boxes (the original isn't big enough...). It's winter here, so the girls have taken over the spare bedroom. I'm actually thinking of tearing up the carpet (it's old).... My friends and neighbors are beginning to stop by less frequently... I've put old sheets all over the floor and furniture in that room so the girls can have some "exercise time" and poop wherever. I just throw the sheets in the wash with bleach and smile as they climb all over me.
DID I MENTION THAT I HAVE AN OBSESSION ABOUT THESE CHICKS!?!
New, Bigger Brooder made with 3 cardboard boxes - thanks to Grit Magazine!
New Years Day..... I awaken to a strange noise. I think someone is hurt. I rush to the brooder. Uma Thurman jumps into my hand. I scoop her up and sit with her on the couch....she seems distraught, spooked.
Uma crows.....!!!! She scared herself!!! I have mixed emotions. So proud and sooooo sad. I can't have roos in the city. I cry for a bit...Uma snuggles. So, Uma Thurman has gender issues and is now "Thurman" the stud muffin. Isn't he a stunning little man? So now we begin the "re-homing" process. Not as easy as I thought it would be.
The chicks are now 8 wks. old and I can't believe how much they have changed. From 2 days to 8 wks. old:
The old Catawba Coop has been re-christened the "MGM Backlot" keeping with the movie star theme.
HOW BEING OWNED BY CHICKENS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE:
- My new "favorite store" has changed from Steinmart (pre-awakening phase), to Home Depot (during the building phase) to Tractor Supply Co.(where I am free to speak of my chicken passion)!
- I love to garden and now I find myself plotting a section of garden for "chicken food", and it's larger than the "people food" section.
- I can't wait to get home so I can have "chicken time".
- At the grocery store I buy with "the girls" in mind...they're vegetarians, so I eat healthier!
- My 15 yr. old grandson thinks I'm crazy, which appeals to me in an eccentric, old, maw-maw way!