Howdy everyone! I’m Deb, the new chick in the hen house here at Community Chickens. It’s great to meet you and I look forward to getting to know more fellow chicken keepers through this forum!
To say that backyard chicken keeping is in its hay- day is an understatement. It seems as if today’s backyard chicken keeper will do just about anything to get in on having hens of their own. Apartment dwellers, city folk and suburbanites alike are in the game and there is no end to the creative ways there are to house chickens. Where was pinterest when we started our chicken keeping adventures eight years ago? Who knows what we might have ended up with? We might have gone with a hollowed out Volkswagen or a vintage trailer for a coop. Instead, we built one from scratch using scrap lumber, an antique window and some barn red stain.
This is the story about how The Little Red Hen House came to be. It all began eight years ago with an innocent visit to a friends home who had just received a box of adorable fuzzy little cheeping, chirping puff balls from the post office. Our daughter who was 8 years old at the time fell in love with them on the spot and that’s all I heard about for weeks afterwards. As a homeschooling mom I just had to figure out a way we could have some too! After all, it would be a great learning experience for the kids and thoughts of farm fresh eggs right from our backyard soon began to dance in my head. After loads of searching online for chicken breeds, chicken coops, chicken feed, and town restrictions on keeping backyard chickens plus a few trips to the local library for more information we were finally ready to order or first flock. At the recommendation of friends, we ordered a mixed variety of breeds ( hearty to long New England winters) from our local feed store.
Then the ” real ” planning began! Large cardboard box. CHECK! Pine Shavings. CHECK! Food and Water containers. CHECK! Heat lamp. CHECK! Thermometer. CHECK! Chicks. CHECK!
Once they arrived and we saw how fast they grew it was time to get serious about ” real housing” for our hens. My husband and I love to re-cycle and re-purpose when ever possible and after looking at the steep prices at fully constructed coops we decided to get creative with a design of our own based loosely on some plans we found online. Since we are pickers buy nature we went shopping in our shed for some scrap wood and discovered we had a large 6 over 8 antique window that ended up being perfect for providing passive solar warmth for the girls during the colder winter months.
We knew it had to be good sized to house 13 full grown hens comfortably. The finished size is 5′ by 6′ with 4 nesting boxes on the rear and a separate box for storing buckets, food, oyster shells and other chicken keeping sundries. The lid lifts up for easy access to eggs and nudging the occasional broody hen off a clutch of eggs when necessary. You might call it a Salt Box Design which is a type of architecture found in New England.
|Golden Laced Wyandotte|
The end wall of the coop is exposed to the outside of the run and doesn’t open for obvious safety reasons. A matching door on the inside of the coop provides plenty of space to get inside for regular cleaning with two roosting bars that are fixed diagonally across the back wall of the coop.The floor of the coop is a scrap piece of vinyl flooring over plywood.
Fast forward eight years and a few more springs chicks added along the way and it’s safe to say our lesson in backyard chicken keeping has stuck! We’ve learned a lot along the way about over all hen keeping but it’s the girls that have taught us the most. They are smart, intuitive and are a natural addition to any family living in suburbia who wishes to practice sustainability on a small scale. We have a rather large run attached to the hen house. It measures roughly 12 x 75 feet long. Having this much area for a run creates a natural composting area. We toss kitchen scraps and yard waste in the run, the girls do their thing and come spring time we shovel out the top layer of the run into the wheelbarrow and top off our established gardens with it giving the plants a nice jump start on a new season of growth and flower production. Chickens are a farm-girls best friend!
Join me next time when I’ll share my tips on designing a garden for your hen house you AND your girls will love!
Thanks for reading,
* If you are also a New England chicken keeper please share you favorite breed in the comments section below and tell us a little about your hen house too!