It may be the cock that crows, but it is the hen that lays the eggs. ~ Margaret Thatcher
King Nebanchanezzer built his homesick Queen the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Marc Antony gave Cleopatra his third of the Roman Empire.
And this last weekend, Husband built me a chicken coop.
We’ve called it Coop de Ville. The rough French translation being “the best chook house in town” Oui!
Frankly, it’s damn impressive. I’m pretty chuffed with it.
You see, chicken coops can be pretty uninspiring. Certainly, the second hand coops that I looked at through our local classifieds inspired thoughts of tetanus shots rather than happy chooky housing. The ones at my local pet supplies were pretty, but expensive and small for the cost. Then I found some very fancy chicken coop plans for sale on the internet that had more architectural merit than my own house!
Then I found Garden Betty’s awesome, Tiki inspired, home-built chicken coop. It’s absolutely glorious. You can read all about it here. It inspired me to think of converting the awkward, shady, nothing-really-thrives veggie bed into a cool, protected chicken paradise. As you may remember, I have been feeling clucky for a while now, I was keen to make this poultry dream come true.
So Husband designed a bit of a hybrid chook house. Thanks to My Chicken Coop, we ordered a freestanding coop online that was half the price of the one at the pet suppliers and just what I was after. It arrived within a week, spanking new, and took Husband about an hour to assemble (that’s with a Friday evening, two-beer handicap).
Then, using an existing fence and limestone garden bed boarder as a frame and foundation, Husband designed and built a completely enclosed run to extend off the pre-purchased coop. I’m not going to let my girls roam free to eat all my veggies and fall prey to the cat. But rest assured, they are in luxury accommodations.
The run is large enough to allow the girls to stretch their wings, and even roost in the branches of the lemon tree if they desire. An unexpected bonus is that there is plenty of room for even the kids to get in there and enjoy a bit of chooky company. When they need a bit of indoor protection, they can retreat to the cosiness of the coop.
As I write, Myrtle, Joy and Biddy (the chooks are named after my Nanna and her sisters) are 4 weeks old. They are Hyline Browns, and probably won’t be laying until after Christmas. But they are already eating all the snails and bugs the kids can find, contributing lots of poo for my composter. I wanted to buy little chooks so that the kids (and I!) wouldn’t be too intimidated with the delivery of a fully-grown, assertive chicken. Also, the chicks can bond with the kids from an early age and get used to being handled without (too much) fear.
The girls have lovely little personalities and already showing a few quirks. They are afraid of helicopters, and race into the coop when one flies over. As we come into summer and the aerial shark patrols increase, (we live near the beach) hopefully they’ll get used to the sound.
They love my eldest two kids, racing out to greet them when they call. They run in to the coop when my littlest bloke say’s hello. He’s a little bit more grabby! They are also a big hit with visitors. And as you can see, even the cat is ever vigilant!
Since they have been home, I am growing convinced that chooks might just be the perfect pet. Great for kids, great for the garden, great for eggs! As Husband said, “I can’t remember the last time a shih tzu made your breakfast.” So true!
I chook, therefore I am. Happy.
Do you have chickens? Thinking about it???