Ever since we had our chickens a few years ago, we knew we wanted to get a new flock when we settled again. As we searched for new houses, we looked for a place with a large space for the kids to play and space for chickens. Fresh eggs are amazing and I find the hens to be endlessly entertaining.
A couple of months ago, we (and by we, I mean Shawn…) built an A-frame chicken coop from and old swing set, salvaged pallet wood, and a few new boards. I helped design the coop (I wanted something pretty!), gave Shawn some inspiration photos, and added a few opinions along the way. Shawn (and our neighbor David…) did all of the building. I was nice to build something that didn’t have to be perfect. There was a general plan in place, but we did some brainstorming and improvising along the way. It still looks great and functions well, even with the loose planning.
This coop is massive! It didn’t seem very big when we started, but it is very heavy and not moving anytime soon. The nesting boxes are in the top half of the coop, on a platform. Under the platform, they have some shade and shelter from the wind and rain. There are doors that lift up on each side of the nesting boxes to gather eggs. We added a small hinged door so that we can go in. Above that door is another door that lifts up, so the kids can drop food in without letting the girls out.
We decided not to start with chicks this time. We have a busy Spring with some unexpected projects and it seemed good to get some slightly older hens that needed a little bit less care. These chickens are 6-7 weeks old. They have most of their feathers and are able to tolerate the cooler temperatures outdoors.
I have spent a lot of time in the chicken coop over the past few days. We really want the chickens to be comfortable with the kids. If they are handled often at this age, they should become very friendly. In 3 days, I have made great progress. The first day they huddled in the corner screaming (they still have their baby peeping sound). I had to catch all 15 of them two evenings in a row to “tuck” them into bed. They weren’t quite sure where to go and they ran away screaming both nights.
Yesterday several of them wandered around me freely without being scared and they found their way to bed. Today, one of the Buff Orphingtons became very friendly. She’s the first to warm up, but has stopped running away when I pick her up. She also ate out of my hand, which the others are still too cautious to try.
It seems crazy to sit in the coop for an hour, trying to get the chickens to like me…but I know they will be much more enjoyable if they are friendly. And honestly, I’ve enjoyed sitting in the coop. It’s quiet, outside in the sun, away from technology…it’s a really nice spot to sit and think. Plus, the baby chicken antics are pretty funny sometimes.
Now to wait for the eggs…