After admiring,talking and reading about chickens for 30+ years my spouse surprised me last Christmas morning with a really cute coop he bought at TSC. Thank goodness it was still in the boxes because after more reading and researching we decided to return it. Thus we were back to square one. But at least we were finally doing it!
We had decisions to make. We spent the rest of December and almost all of January pouring over coop designs (many of them on this site) and working up materials/price lists.
Meanwhile, I came home one Saturday from running errands and found that DH had devised a "mockup" out of tall metal garden stakes held together with zip ties. He had gathered up all the garden lawn ornaments ( various fake chickens and roosters I'd collected at yardsales) and placed them here and there in the mockup. It was cute! Only old married folks who've been married a long time can understand how romantic a gesture that was.
Over the next few weeks the mockup was moved from place to place until we agreed on just the right spot based on sun/shade/airflow and being able to see it from inside the house. Sort of like goldilocks and the three bears. We'd found the spot that was "just right"!
DH is handy, but short on time and a little worried about being rusty on his skills and starts to doubt whether he can pull this off by himself.
Meanwhile every time I see someone has put out lumber scraps free for the taking, I pull over. I am never ashamed to be a trash picker! I am "re-purposer"!
We scour Craigslist and Facebook for adds for free or used coops.
I go to the main branch of our library downtown and come home with practically their entire "chicken collection".
On the way home I stop in at our local extension office and spend an hour chatting with them and leave with the promise that one of their friends, a chicken lady and master gardener, "might" contact me. I cross my fingers!
A few days later we agree to meet at her house so I can meet her flock. She was more than generous with her time. I have a million questions!
Late one night, I stumble upon a Facebook page of a person in the next state who makes chicken coops for a living.
I love them. I DREAM about them that night.
I check his FB page every day for new pictures. I read all the way back to the very beginning. I read every comment. He also makes runs, tractor styles, and housing for other types of animals.
I find out that he also sometimes barters. I show his work to my DH.
Then one day I follow a link that takes me to his personal FB page and I'm stunned.
I screengrab a particular photo of him and send it to my young adult kids and show it to my husband that night.
We are all in disbelief. My son answers my text with "What the heck?! WHO IS that mom????? Do we know him?"
I answer, "I know, RIGHT??!!
We want to talk to him about buying a coop from him. We decide we'll rent a u-haul truck and pick it up. I keep looking at the pictures and dreaming.
That weekend my husband calls him but doesn't get an answer. He leaves a message.
I can tell he is really disappointed, he's anxious to talk to him!
The next day we still haven't gotten a call back. My husband is crushed. I tell him the guy might not work on the weekends and to have faith but in the meantime I send him a private message through FB and almost instantly the little bubbles start!
He apologized profusely and said he saw the call come in but ignored it because he was busy and thought it was "just his dad".
He types his dad's name.
It is THE SAME as my DH's name.
In fact it is HIS NAME TOO, but he goes by his middle name!
What are the chances of that?
We discuss via FB messenger the specifications of what we'd like, and he tells us that he'll design it and work up a price and time estimate for us.
Later that day we hear back and are so excited because it is a do-able price. We offer a big barter item from his wishlist and that knocks the price down considerably. Yay!
All we have to do is rent a truck with a 17 foot trailer. Then we find out how expensive that is after mileage etc and the plan falls apart. Disappointment again.
We notify him that the plan isn't going to work. The cost of the truck nearly doubles the total cost of the project putting it out of our budget. He says," Maybe I could call it a day trip and deliver it for an additional fee." It's a reasonable fee to boot. What an emotional roller coaster.
By now it's mid February. We agree. I mail a deposit to him the next day.
I spend the next week trying to teach myself how to sex newborn chicks, Lol, hoping to not wind up with cockerels. They aren't allowed in my town.
I leave the local hardware store on feb 28th with six baby chicks in a little box and bring them to their new home, a giant Rubbermaid brooder in the spare room.
I love their peeps!
The dog and I spend so much time in there over the next several weeks.
My husband can't wait to come home from work each day to see how much they've grown!
He sits in a chair and holds a chick or two. The warmth in the room makes them and him fall asleep in five minutes flat every time. Lol he says they're like a drug and everyone with a stressful job should try having chickens!
The day the coop was delivered, we had the site all level and prepared. The installation went smooth as silk.
The coop and run just slid into place and fit the space perfectly.
We enjoy several hours with the coop builder and his family. He's done a beautiful job on it. We ask him to sign the inside with a sharpie. We both hug him so many times goodbye. I hug his wife and little girl too. I hold on to her like a grandma saying goodbye for a long time. After they drive away my husband sits down and let's himself cry. I join him.
It was a beautiful day in every way.
My husband and I agree that we feel the way art collectors must feel when they consign a piece of art from an artist.
I spend the next day -a perfect day for it- painting the inside of the coop ( 3 coats) with an "oops color" best quality exterior paint from Home Depot. It's a happy butter yellow. Whoever returned that can of paint was crazy. I plan for curtains for their window too. These girls are spoiled already.
Since the original installation we decided on few improvements. In the heat of the summer, DH built "up" and doubled the height of the run so it could be a "walk-in".
This was an incredible help since I'm middle aged. It makes cleaning a breeze. We used corrugated plastic for the roof. The run is a dirt and sand mixture. Inside the coop is wood shavings and removable greenhouse trays over a vinyl floor. My total cleaning and maintenance time daily is 5 minutes, and a half hour on weekends.
As to the surprise about the young man with the same name and the photograph...
He is no relation to us in any way. The name is merely a crazy coincidence. But he does bear an AMAZING resemblance to our son who passed away in 2011.
Having him, and his young family at our home the day of the delivery was truly a gift. It felt like a visit from an angel. For a few hours it gave us a glimpse of "what if". I'll cherish that day forever.
Every morning when I look out the window and see our darling coop I just know that the whole series of events was meant to be!
Small urban coop, Quaker style 4x4 with walk-in run
How a dream in the making for decades finally came to be...
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