Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Build a Chicken Coop....Ineptly

Step 1:  Go on Pinterest

Wow, look at that!  Look at all those really cool Do-It-Yourself projects!  You mean all you have to do is take an old desk/ pallet/ bookcase/ toilet paper roll/ etc and add a few nails and pieces of scrap wood, and you can renovate it into a beautiful new chicken coop?


Wow, that looks easy!  You can do that, too!

Huh?  What's that?  What kind of design do you want your chicken coop to have you're done?

Eh, you'll figure it out later, when you get to that point.

Step 2:  Find something old, left behind by the old house owner.


This is going to be the raddest chicken coop ever.

Step 3:  Slowly and carefully move chicken-coop-in-the-making to the construction area.

Step 4: After several minutes of straining, realize it's too heavy to lift on your own, and that you will have to wait for the husband to come home and help you move it.

Step 5:  Sulk for a few minutes about the fact that you were born a female, and that instead of having broad shoulders and big biceps that can lift heavy things, you have wide hips, a big butt, and the ability to experience "morning" sickness.  Yes, Mother Nature.  That's just SO much better.

Step 6:  Get angry.  Decide to move it anyways.  Carefully maneuver desk-coop-thingie end-over-end down a rocky slope into the backyard.  Arrive at the bottom without a single mishap.  Cheer inwardly.  Perhaps cheer outwardly, too.

Step 7:  Heave desk-coop-thingie over the four foot chain link fence (the gate is too far away to reach) through sheer will power, making grunting and straining very feminine and sexy noises. 

Step 8:  Watch in horror as the last teensy tip of the desk catches on the top of the fence, wrenches sideways out of your grasp, and falls the last two feet, breaking in several places.

Step 9:  Teach your three-year-old and one-year-old several new and very passionate vocabulary words that are not Sesame Street approved.

Step 10:  Get to work.

Take lots of photos of your progress, so you can do a blog post later on about how totally awesome and capable you are.

Pop Quiz:  What's more difficult than trying to build something with no plans, no previous carpentry experience, no real materials, and no actual mechanical abilities? 

Answer:  Trying to do all of the above with children.

Nails and hammers and saws really aren't a good mix with toddlers and preschoolers.  The DragonMonkey and Squid are hard enough to keep alive on a normal basis.  Trying to chase after them while simultaneously "building" a chicken coop nearly drove me crazy.

Still, I wanted chickens, and to get chickens I needed a coop, so there was no turning back.

I nailed.  I stapled.  I sawed. I screwed things in.

I looked at my "chicken coop" and sighed.

I unscrewed things.  I unnailed things.  I plucked out staples, and started all over again, when things weren't working well.

Rinse, repeat.

Rinse, repeat.

After three days (yes, three), this is what I had:


I know.

At that point I did what every mature, modern, and independent woman does:

I threw in the towel and called Santa.

Santa, otherwise known as my stepdad (he really does have a thriving career as a real-bearded Santa), is to wood what J.R.R. Tolkien is to fantasy writing. 

The original plan was that I would be the one building it,  and he would teach me.

It worked like that at first - he explained, I understood and nodded, and together we worked on it, while my mom made it possible by watching the boys.

It was a nice theory, but as things grew more complex, it turned into him saying a bunch of words, me nodding like I understood, and then blindly following his instructions.

I really don't see professional carpentry in my immediate future.

Three building sessions later, I had this:


I know.

Pretty awesome, huh?

Even better, we build the thing entirely out of old pallets and wood that the previous owner left behind.  The only money we spent was on some extra screws and a couple of 2 x 4s we used to brace the roof.

When it's time for the chickens to go to sleep, the ramp comes off, and the door comes down, and it locks up safe and secure.

When it comes time to clean it out, the whole front opens up, making the process nice and easy.

The back also has a neat little flap:

Which can open up to make egg-collecting easy:

Yes, I know our nesting boxes need sides and a little top, but one thing at a time.

You know what comes next, right?

Oh, yeah.

Can you feel my excitement all the way over there?




I know I said that when it came time to get chickens I would get a Silkie, but unfortunately, our city says we can only have three chickens.  When push came to shove, we decided to have eggs over coolness factor.  Plus, I was able to get these pullets all from the same person, so I know they will get along.  I wasn't sure how introducing a Silkie to two chickens that were raised together would work out, and I didn't feel like dealing with chicken wars.

If/when something happens to one of these hens I plan on replacing her with a Silkie....I still really want one.

Anyways, regarding breeds we chose a Buff Orpington as one of the hens, mostly so she could become a pet - Buff Orpingtons (the peach-colored chicken below) are only average egg layers, but what they're really known for is how friendly and laid-back they are.  

She's only been here a day and she's already letting me pet her.  Sweet.

The other two chickens are called "Golden Sex Link" - which, honestly, sounds like the punchline to some kind of really dirty innuendo to me.  

"Hey baby, 
how about you, me, and a little Golden Sex Link, hmmmm?"

What's important to know about them is that they are red, fairly docile, and lay lots of eggs. 

Well, I mean, they will lay lots of eggs once they are mature.  These girls are only four months old.  They're due to start laying any day, but not quite yet.

One of the Golden Sex Link (giggle) hens immediately named herself.  As soon as we plopped them out of the cat carrier and into the coop, she rushed to the back and began rearranging the straw we had in the nesting boxes, glancing back over her shoulder at me with an extremely judgy expression.

Her name is Martha Stewart.

The other two haven't really named themselves yet (does anyone have any suggestions?)  The DragonMonkey is suggesting "Mommy" for the other Golden Sex Link (snicker), but I think I'm going to feel a little awkward standing in my backyard saying, "Heeeeere, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," for the whole world to hear.

I honestly think we should name her Evil Eyes.  I mean, nothing about that expression makes me want to reach out and get my fingers near that beak.  (You can see Martha Stewart in the background, still rearranging the straw.)

We put up some temporary wire so they're not completely closed in with the coop.  I'm not going to make the same mistake twice - these chickens are NOT going to run away from home.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go eat the bacon The Bean has just finished cooking, and then I'm going outside to bond with my new chickens.

Today is a good day.




I have new pets, and my new pets just MADE SOMETHING FOR ME TO EAT.  It's like adopting a dog from the pound, and finding out that on top of being potty trained,  it makes a nice casserole.  Chickens are the most awesome thing ever!


Blogger Fiwen said...

Too cool! We had 3 Buff Orpingtons and they really are so friendly, and big enough to be cuddly!

September 30, 2012 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

I hope that a lot of people find this post when googling how to build a chicken coop. Congrats on the coop and three egg laying chickens. I got my first job by catching 9/12 exotic chickens for my soon-to-be boss and getting them back in the coop. As what? Oh, as an attorney. I'm sure that all makes sense.

September 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Veronica Foale said...


Also, over here, bantams are considered "cage birds" not poultry and I know of a few people who have gotten around residential poultry laws by keeping silkies.

You know, in case you want to go chicken wild.

September 30, 2012 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Carrot Top said...

Yay chickens!
And don't worry about the non-coop building prowess, because the other extreme is to be so good and so into it that you build, rebuild or extend the chicken coops every 4 months like my Mum does. The bottom of our garden looks like an Indian slum.

September 30, 2012 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

woohoo for making pinterest a reality!my dad built a chicken coop in the backyard. we have four chickens, one of whom is a buff orpington named goldie. the eggs don't taste much different to me, but they're fun to collect, and the yolks are brighter yellow.

September 30, 2012 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger ABScharstein said...

The one with the Evil Eye should be called Hillary. You have to admit, the lady has quite the stare, hahah!
Congrats on the new additions! Love the chicken condo ;)

September 30, 2012 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger ABScharstein said...

The one with the Evil Eye should be called Hillary. You have to admit, the lady has quite the stare, hahah!
Congrats on the new additions! Love the chicken condo ;)

September 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger AareneX said...

Jim wants to talk to Santa! Seriously, he wants to be a real-bearded Santa and would love guidance. He will do more than nod and smile, I promise.

Also: hens make good casseroles. Eventually.

September 30, 2012 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger lytha said...

after reading your first chicken adventure long ago (so sad!!!) i am delighted to read this story today! i think you made my whole day: ) hey, can you help me learn to make good deviled eggs? i keep trying but they aren't right. i'm sure you'll be experimenting with lots of egg recipes for your family. kids need fresh eggs! can we see photos of the eggs next time? (the inside?) also, it's so fun to have animals who consider kitchen waste a delicacy.

September 30, 2012 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Jamethiel Crabb said...

Finally Becky has eggs and birds and a real chicken coop. The only thing that can top this is when Joe drives up in a Toyota Tundra with a 3 horse gooseneck and three World Champion Morgans inside and says....

Wake up Becky, it's time to feed the kids.
At least now you have chickens!

October 1, 2012 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Dom said...

That is a stellar coop! I'm so glad you got your chickens, even if you don't have a silkie yet. I also snorted at 'Sesame Street Approved'.

October 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

You could always call her Snicker. You are going to do this every time you say her breed so it might as well be her name. I am very envious of course. Enjoy your girls.

October 2, 2012 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Snipe said...

Becky, you're so lucky to have those chickies! The three of them will produce more than enough eggs before long. That's not a bad problem to have :)

Also, if you like, check out my blog at

October 2, 2012 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger mugwump said...

I'm jealous. Of the chickens. Not so much the help from the boys, I've done my time...

October 7, 2012 at 4:53 AM  

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