SC_Hugh, ibpboo, and I are in a race to update our terribly bare BYC pages. Hugh needs a little more time, which I think means so the deadline has been moved to April 15th. Check back to see who has met the challenge. Thanks!A walk up the hill lands you in a regional park and grazing land. There are neighbors all around, whch can make it difficult to have chickens, but I suspected it was a chicken-friendly place. Some people up there have horses, as well as a coop full of funny-looking chickens that I now know are silkies. The silkie chickens live in a purple building sporting a sign that says, "The Coop." I figured, if they can do it, I can do it.
Here are the Ladies of Orpington Manor.
They live in a little town in the San Francisco Bay Area between the Carquinez Strait and Mt. Diablo.
As soon as the school year was over, I Googled "chicken coop plans" and was led to the coop pages here on BYC. I found an awesome looking coop made by be_collective. Here is his coop,
I started off with my first chickens not quite 2 years ago, 3 Buff Orpington chicks from Western Farm in Santa Rosa. I didn't plan to get chicks, but succumbed to chick fever. They lived in a cardboard box in my basement with a light over them for warmth, and not even a thermometer. (I would have brought them in the house, but was worried that my cats would think the chicks were mighty fun play toys.) They seemed fine. After two weeks, I started to think that one of the chicks was a rooster. Of course, me being such an expert on these things, I bought another chick to replace my rooster, which I would have to re-home. The 4 chicks grew at a phenomenal rate. I think they doubled in size every week. I started to worry that they would outgrow their box long before I could get a coop built. They spent their nights in the box, keeping warm under the light. In the daytime, they moved into a primitive pen of a packing crate and chicken wire. When I let them, they explored my yard.
If you want to read all about his coop, click here:
I scribbled a few adaptations for my warm, dry climate, and set off to find salvage yard windows and reclaimed lumber.
The coop began to take shape, with the chicks looking on.
The chicks tried to move in as soon as it started taking shape. Silly birds!
They tried to help throughout the project, but mostly just inspected the lumber.
Here is a detail pic of that roof hub.
I've been asked about it many times.
Yes, it required compound miter cuts on the blocking, and a lot of patience. I feel the need to pause here to Remember the Rules:
- You can always cut more off, but you can never put it back. (Of course, that isn't really true when the wood gets really small. Then, it's your fingers that you can always cut off, but never put back. Be wise enough to know when you've reached this point.)
- Try to be accurate.
- Try to forgive yourself when you're not.
- Use screws, not nails, whenever possible. And, drill pilot holes.
- Clamps are your best friend.
- Simple tools do not possess a low IQ. They are brilliant! Use them, especially if you are building your coop alone, as I did. I didn't follow this rule once, and ended up with a window falling on my arm. Ouch! It left a nasty bruise. After that, I used a pulley to hoist those puppies while I screwed the frame in place.
My neighbors wanted to know if I was building the Taj Mahal. No, but it is a chicken palace.
Hence, forever known as Orpington Manor.
Three weeks after construction began, the chicks moved in.
They just couldn't fit in their cardboard box anymore.
The chicks had developed personalities, and had been given names during the construction weeks. We had Gwendolyn the Miracle Hen (aka 'Gwen') and her blonde, social-climbing sidekick, Paris. But the rooster kept us baffled. rooster? pullet? rooster? pullet? In the best gender-bender fashion, we named him/her Lola. L-O-L-A, Lola. And the fourth chick, who was simply younger, got nicknamed Runt. Runt didn't fit her big, bold personality. She was the right shade of tan-brown, and barely bigger than the frozen hash-brown nugget when we got her, so she became Tatertot. She is front and center in the above picture, as always with her cute, inquisitive face.
Here is the coop after some roofing work, as well as after some preliminary painting by friends.
Sometime 'round about the end of September when the girls were about 20 weeks old, Orpington Manor had its first egg. And, guess who laid it? Yup, Lola, the rooster, er pullet.
Progress is measured in millimeters. Never forget this.
Here's a pic of me, just in case you run into me someplace. You can say, "Hey, aren't you Orp?"
No, I don't play the accordion. But, I play almost everything else.
I'm a public school music teacher.
another installment of this story tomorrow...