Walking into the enclosed porch one afternoon with a fresh water jug for the girls, Miss Etta James sat perched on the rim of her container looking quite finished with the hot box they were living in. She had quickly discovered that vigorous wing exercises were rewarded with a quick escape into a very big coop, indeed.
I had forgotten how fast chickens grew, but with Etta James’ help, I realized that the first 4 hens needed to be relocated as soon as possible!
What once was no hurry had become a race against time to get the chicken coop ready. But along with the hurry came a smoldering heat across the entire U.S. along with futile wishes that we should have gotten the project done sooner.
The 90-degree days made working outside feel like working in a sauna, but we needed to get the project completed or face the very good possibility that 4 chickens would be flying their very temporary coop. I didn’t want to walk into the area where stored Christmas decorations became perches for pooping chickens!
The next day, we set the coop in place, marked the corners of the run with tall fencing stakes, and raked the area clear of debris. Finishing up by 11am, my clothes were soaked through with sweat… the salty droplets dripping down and stinging my eyes. Swiping away the moisture with grubby hands, it seemed the heat intensified the feel of every dirt particle covering my arms and legs as if I had been hosed down and rolled in a bowl of dust.
Regardless of how grubby I felt, forward progress had been made and the fire stoked to finish the project by the end of the week.
A Fort Knox Coop & Run
If you have never raised chickens, then you might not know how quickly predators will locate and try gaining access to a fresh chicken dinner. For this reason, it is important to have knowledge of what types of predators may attack, and how you can thwart their attempts at gaining access to your flock. Especially if you do not have space for your chickens to free range which would allow them to fly up into a tree to escape their pursuers.
The coop and run needed to be impenetrable, and lucky me… my husband knew exactly what needed to be done to keep my little chicken nuggets safe. And before you ask, the answer is NO… we are not eating them. I just think it’s cute to call them chicken nuggets.
With help from friends, my husband got the footings dug around the pen The lowest tier of chicken wire was then stapled to treated plywood boards and sunk into poured, cement footings to deter would be predators from digging under to steal themselves a snack.
Sewing up the overlapping layers of chicken wire around the sides and across the top of the pen would protect my brood from raptors and climbing brigands alike.
It was nearly time for the big move.
It wasn’t long after the footings hardened that mom and her friend brought a bag of goodies for the girls’ new home. The bag contained a dangly pumice stone with hanging bell, a swing, a xylophone, and a bunch of chicken stickers to decorate the walls of the coop.
After reinforcing the roof with added supports, we hung chicken toys throughout the run so my sweet girls had a fun, play area.
Adding a perch nailed across two logs, a bamboo windchime, and a ramp leading up into the coop, my chicken’s new home was shaping up to be the cutest little chicken coop in northern Michigan!
When my mom and her friend saw it, they exclaimed, “Now all you need is curtains!”
As mentioned in part 1, when my kids were little and my husband raised the chickens, I never got involved other than using the eggs for cooking. But I do recall that besides the same Fort Knox design, the old coop was nothing compared to the fancy-schmancy digs my chickens have today!
Picking yellow gingham for the curtains, mom pulled out her sewing machine busily stitching up the most adorable, tiny curtains for my girls’ new home. Looking homey and inviting, this chicken coop has shaped up to be a wonder to behold.
Even the guys who helped revamp it are amazed at how it is turning out!
The question stands… will there be more to add to it?
Mirror, Mirror On The Coop Wall?
When my grandma was still around, she had a pet cockateel named Nitro. The crazy, gray bird with the groovy hair-do sang love songs to anyone’s shoes while rubbing his face on them as if nuzzling a lover. The bird also enjoyed mirrors and acted similarly by nuzzling his reflection and singing sweet songs to himself.
Thinking of grandma’s pet bird, I wonder… should I get some mirrors in my chicken coop, or will sunlight reflecting in the glass burn the place down, chicks and all?
Perhaps I will have to stop at a couple of garage sales to look for some fun, chicken furniture to add to the run. Surely I’ll unearth something cool.
Do you have an idea for something else the pen could use? Comment below.
Other than exercising the hens outside within a small dog enclosure, my chickens had no idea about the house we had built for them.
Securing the lid on the plastic tote they lived in, my husband and I carefully carried them to their new home. Popping the box open next to the coop’s entry door, I wrangled the four chickens out, one by one, and placed them in the coop.
At first, they huddled together like a bunch of fraidy-cats wondering where they were. Finally, they relaxed and began milling about the small space.
Jenna and Etta James were the first to inspect the nesting boxes stuffed with straw, while Abby and Katie checked out the giant food & water containers. But not one of them neared the opening leading out to the run.
I figured these chickens would be thrilled to go outside, but I guess they are ‘chickens’ after all!
Securing the coop door closed, I went around to the other side of the pen calling their names in effort to coax them out.
Nothing happened except a couple of chicken heads peeked out the opening as if passengers on Noah’s Ark, and the run a vast ocean filled with chicken eating sharks and other scary monsters.
It wasn’t until I shooed them out the door that they waddled their butts down the ramp and into their new play yard.
Giving them time to get used to their new digs, we left them to their own devices until evening, then checked to make sure they had all made it inside safely for the night.
Safe and secure in a very cozy coop, my first four hens were adjusting well, and I couldn’t wait until I could get all of my chickens together.
Coming up next... will all of my chickens be hens as expected? And just how well will the great chicken integration go?
Stay tuned for more as my flock grows.
Thanks so much for reading!
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Arcuri, Lauren, March 12, 2021, Predator Proof Your Chicken Coop, https://www.thespruce.com/predator-proof-your-chicken-coop-3016559
Arcuri, Lauren, March 26, 2021, Protect Your Chickens From Predators, https://www.thespruce.com/protect-your-chickens-from-predators-3016834
Sullivan, Jessica, May 24, 2021, How To Tell If You Have A Hen Or A Rooster, https://smallpetselect.com/how-to-tell-if-you-have-a-hen-or-rooster/