July 2012 - My trip to the loony bin started innocently enough...I took a trip to see my sister in Seattle. It was there that I found the cutest 5 hens living quite happily in her tiny urban backyard. As a former Iowa farm girl, it had never even occurred to me that keeping chickens was possible in the city. Well, that was it...I was in chicken love! The plotting & planning to get my own little mini-flock started immediately. I mean really...who could resist this face?!
Fast Forward to January 2013 - The DH and I struck a bargain and he's okay with us getting chickens if he doesn't have to be responsible for them. Oh, and he'd really like one of those "Don King looking ones" - I'm pretty sure he means the Polish Crested, what do you think?
After asking for "all things chicken" for birthdays and holidays I'd assembled all the pieces and parts to start building. Here's the Loony Bin in-process:
I want to eventually order the slick new Large coop from SnapLock in Georgia, but at $700 it's pretty spendy. So, for this first try I'm going to try to retrofit my extra compost bin. I like the idea of it being easily cleaned and it's super light, so I can move it around and take it apart myself. (refer to DH agreement above - LOL!)
If you read any posts on BYC, you'll soon have predators on your mind! I probably overdid some things, but I guess we'll see. I have a 6ft tall dog kennel made of welded wire that has "security" written all over it, so far so good! Since I know we have skunks, raccoons, possum, fox and hawks in the area, I decided to make Chicken Fort Knox, starting with laying down a floor of hardware cloth entirely covering the 9x9 space where the kennel walls will go (yes, that's snow we're in and no, that guy is not wearing a jacket...much to my protest):
Then we placed the kennel and zip-tied the cloth up the wall to "wrap" it from any digging predators. Yeah, after about 400 of those zips, you're thinking about cutting corners, but we kept going!
Can't forget that predators can come from above...I have an aviary roof on order, but it won't come before my chickens are ready for me to pick up, so it's time for MORE ZIP TIES! After all this, I felt more than a little like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Next came the 2x10 lumber to form the frame of the world's largest kitty litter box.
OH - and how about 1 ton of sand. Who wants to shovel and carry that up 15 steps and through a back yard? Oh, Oh, PICK ME!
(BTW...one of my Christmas gifts was a "coupon" for Chicken Coop building help from this super handy buddy of mine. How great is it to have big muscle-y friends?!)
With the sand loaded and raked into place it's time to move in the stuff!
Just in case all that zipping, shoveling, carrying and raking wasn't enough to send me around the bend...here's the "stuff" I decided to build and modify for the girls.
FEEDERS: Home made 2 ft PVC pipe feeders. I heard from several folks that they're a lot less messy than the trough systems. I made 2 for feed and 1 each for oyster shell & grit so we can fill them up and have a weekend away without worrying about refills. They also have little plugs for sealing them up at night in case the mice decide to visit.
COOP: The final piece to the chicken puzzle is the retrofit of the composter. I'd seen pictures of folks using this type of structure, so I followed their lead and made a couple modifications of my own. Because it can get cold here in Colorado, I created an insulated "foundation" with compressed straw bales. This also helps add height to the coop until I can make a platform and buy that snazzy new coop I want.
Then, I added two roosting bars from 2x3s to accommodate 4 ladies. All that white stuff you see is food grade DE that I dusted everywhere and raked into the sand to help prevent any parasites from "bugging" my girls.
Here's the view through the door opening. Because it's winter and the girls I'm buying aren't quite old enough, I'll add a nest box when they start laying.
No coop is complete without a few decorations, so I added some solar lighting on the posts and a few signs I got as gift
s from my chicken supporters.
And now I wait for the nice lady that has 4 Iowa Blues to call and tell me I can pick up my girls. This is better than waiting for Santa!