Wednesday, April 16, 2008


We got some chickens.

"What?" you say.

"Yeah, chickens."

I mean, Who doesn't like eggs? No, we're not going to eat the chickens - I mean they're gonna have names and everything. I certainly am not looking forward to telling Simone that "Gladys" went to the big coop in the sky.

So we got some chickens, 3 in fact. I believe the breed is "Buf Orphington." Mary actually picked up 11, eight were for a friend who couldn't make it to the store the day the chicks arrived.

Mary has been wanting chickens for quite a while - I never fully understood the attraction, but now that we have them, I'm getting pretty stoked. We'll get eggs, probably over a dozen a week once they get going (next year, they'll reach laying age right when winter starts to set in and egg production drops). And they'll turn all our kitchen scraps into nice fertilizer. Plus we'll get some friendly pets to follow us around the yard.

Currently, they're living in a big Tupperware bin, eating, drinking, sleeping, cheeping. They're a hoot (guess that'd make them owls). Simone loves to say "hi" to the chicks.

Longer term, they'll obviously grow out of the Tupperware bin, heck at this rate they'll probably be too large for the bin in another two or three weeks. In the first two weeks they've at least tripled in size. They've transformed from cute little fuzzy balls into mangy-looking small chickens. Why are they mangy looking? Their feathers are coming in, and the initial feathers aren't completely full - they kind of look like what you would get when putting a pinata together.

So what do chickens live in? A coop of course! Where do you get a coop? You can buy them... Or you can make them.

Being the handyman I am, we chose the decision to make one.

There are all sorts of different variations, but none quite fit what we wanted, namely bigger than small, with storage underneath for the bags of food and bedding.

Perhaps at some point I'll put up the plans (it was disappointing to see the lack of detailed plans available on the web). But the basic plan is a 3'x5' base, the bottom vertical 3 feet is storage, and above that is a floor for the chickens. We bought a linoleum remnant and are putting that down to ease cleanup after the chickens.

Here are some pictures of progress so far, Simone helped quite a bit.

The base and the initial frames for the walls. The whole thing will sit on those cinder blocks you see on the right.

Simone sitting in the framing for the storage door. She's making sure everything is square.

Simone is verifying all the screws have the same number of threads, and the threads all go in the same direction (nice to be sure which direction to turn the screwdriver).
Finally you can see the overall framework, including the roof line. I'll be trimming the the vertical and roof beams appropriately this coming weekend.

And here are the chickens:
This is all 11, ours are the yellow ones. See how small they are compared to the feeder?

At age 3 days (well, one week? dunno, this is three days after we got them).

And here they are after two weeks at home, notice they're about the same size as the feeder now. They let you scratch their chest now if you're real gentle.

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