Guys, check out the new coop John built me! Okay, he built it for the four littler ladies in his life, but essentially, he made it this pretty just for me. I love it so stinking much and while it will be bitter sweet to lock our liberated ladies inside for a couple months, it's going to be so fantastic to grow our grass back (hopefully), spray my roses and actually watch all my dahlias bloom rather than become expensive chicken lettuce.
We decided to build a bigger coop for a few reasons. The first is that the original one we bought, marketed as a coop for 2-6 hens, really shouldn't be used for more than 3 (MAX). The hen house had one perch and only three of those fluffy bums could fit across it. One girl was always the odd one out and had to sleep in a nesting box. We weren't just worried about her feelings, sleeping on the ground makes the hens more susceptible to pests and illness. Lately, they've begun picking at one another's feathers too, most likely due to the cramped quarters at night. The size of the run is far too small as well, which is what led us to let them free-range every day.
It's one of the sweetest things to watch them run around the yard, or be greeted by them at the front gate, but they take a lot of liberties. Namely, all of our neighbors know them. That's because every day while we are at work, they slip through the hedge (around all the chicken wire attempting to keep them in), or they jump our 5 foot fence, and they make their rounds through several neighbors lawns. They typically return before we do (but not always) and eventually they fly onto the top of their hen house where they prefer to perch for the night. This means John or I have to pick each of them up one by one and place them inside their hen house before locking it up safely for the night. Yes, each night we have to put our girls to bed.
We don't mind too much. But it is a bit limiting on vacation and travel. Finding a person willing to let them out each morning and put them away each night can be asking a lot! Thus the bigger coop. We're hoping to take our grand honeymoon this fall and we're hoping to have the girls so well situated that all we have to ask is for a little check in once a week. Refill the water and food, perhaps give them a fun treat and que, sera sera.
Being so large though, in such a tiny yard, we had to be sure to make the new coop pretty. And easy to use, access and clean. John designed it in such a way that we can build a little chicken door/tunnel to a second optional run behind the shed later if we like. He also assures me he's figured out how he's going to use the rainwater off the roof to refill the girls water. In his words, "easy". We'll see. ;)
We still need to attach the hardware cloth and door to the run, a chicken ladder, and other final finishes before we can backfill and landscape. THEN, it's grass time! The idealist in me is saying we'll get to seed the lawn this weekend. It might be a stretch.