Friday, August 20, 2010


When we moved in, our landlord owned 4 chickens, 5 ducks, and turkey. When he left for Palm Springs last September (from which he has never returned), the maintenance guy, Norm, started taking care of the animals. They didn't do so well. It's not Norm's fault, he tries. But the birds didn't have a good setup, Norm works two full time jobs, and he doesn't know anything about them. So Andrew and I started taking care of them, with Norm paying for the food and us eating the eggs. This worked fine for a while, until something killed off all of the free roaming ducks and one of the chickens in the space of 3 nights. We pinned up the 3 remaining chickens in a chicken tractor of sorts. But it wasn't very mobile and it was a pain to feed and water them and then the turkey started attacking me and, long story short, we told Norm we were done taking care of them. They had stopped laying when they got pinned up and it was just too much work for nothing. So he started taking care of them again. And our landlord ordered 4 more ducks and 3 turkey chicks for Norm to pick up and take care of. Nothing was getting very good care. It was hard to watch, but we try not to get too involved in their adventures. It's out of our control and just not logical, so it frustrates me. It was around this time, as we watched the 4 ducks and 1 turkey die, and chickens cooking in the sun all day, that we walked down the hill behind our house and saw this.
Before Coop
To us, it said:  I'm a chicken coop with an enclosed run.  Do you see it?
Before Coop
We started with getting rid of all of the weeds and blackberry bushes growing up in the middle.

Before Coop
By the end of the first day, it looked like this.  The house and the fencing were all there.  Inside the little house was dirt floors and a rotting wall.  We think they used to use this area for when they sheared the sheep and docked their tails.  They (being our landlord) doesn't do that anymore.

Before Coop
Lots of space for chickens to run around!
We built the nesting boxes out of scrap wood lying around.  The ramp up to the nesting boxes is an old folding closet door that was in the burn pile.
On the left, you can see the side of the nesting boxes with the ramp.  Along the back wall, is the perch.  It used to be an old bedframe, also from the burn pile.  The matching closet door is the ramp to the perch.  We used a section of fallen down fence, two sections actually, as the floor, and some scrap sheets of plywood to patch the rotted sections of the wall.  I don't have a picture of it, but Andrew built an awesome door using all scrap wood, hinges, and even a knob.
The water feeder is a $1 bucket from the hardware store, with holes in the bottom, set in an old planter bottom.  Continuous watering.
The feeder is another $1 bucket from the hardware store, with holes in the bottom, set in a seed tray.  Continuous feeding too.  We did purchase some netting to put over the entire enclosure so that they chickens couldn't get out and nothing else could get in.  Oh, and we patched the gaps in the fencing with spare fencing lying around.
And finally...the chickens.  We reclaimed the 3 chickens from our landlord and said we would take care of them along with our own.  That's right, we got our own chickens!
We found an ad on Craigslist for $5 red star hens, organic and pasture fed.  We got 5 of them.  Pretty little things aren't they?
When we went to pick them up, we met the cutest little family.  Their boys ran the chicken business, sold eggs, hatched chicks and took care of them every day.  The boys helped us catch the hens and we paid them for them.  Very fun.  And guess what?  We got them on Monday, and they have already started laying!  Anybody need eggs?


Anonymous said...

Awesome, awesome. I love your new chicken run. The raspberry peach jam is just gorgeous, too. Sooo pretty!

Kira said...

This is so nice! You guys do such cool stuff :)

Winn said...


Emily said...

Way to be! you two are very talented and very project is impressive...seriously. I hope you continue to have luck with your chickens with the winter coming. I have heard putting a grow light in the hen house will keep them laying...but who really knows. Keep us is really cool to learn what you guys are doing and all the great projects that you have going.

Sustainable Eats said...

Most excellent! I'm so excited that you have chickens! So quickly to boot. Nicely done.