Friday, November 18, 2011

Tour de Coup

I've seen others do blog tours of their chicken set up and so I thought it was time that I do the same.  Maybe this will inspire others who are lurkers, thinking about getting chickens, to take the leap.  It's loads of fun.

I thought about having chickens often and never thought it was possible.  I kept telling myself: "I live in the city.  I have neighbors on either side of me.  I have such a limited amount of space.  I don't have time."

Well, one day we went to a BBQ at a friend's house who has a yard even smaller than mine, and fenced off in the corner of her backyard were four, fat, happy Buff Orpington hens.  And I was in love!

So a few hours on the internet researching possibilities and voila, we now have chickens.  Be sure to research the local laws and ordinances for your area.  Turns out, we're allowed to have up to 6 hens w/ out a permit provided we house them 25' from our neighbor's house.  And because we're on a corner lot, with large side yards, that was pretty easy to accommodate.  (You can house them closer than 25' provided you have written permission from the neighbors.)

My other concern was about time.  Chickens are vulnerable to predators and need to be locked up at night and let out at first light.  My crazy schedule would make that a challenge.  So I thought, what if I built a predator proof run and just put their house in the middle of that.  Then I could check in on them at my convenience and not have to worry about getting up early to let them out or home in time to lock them up at night.  Put in an over sized waterer and feeder and now I'm on to something that just might work.

Not being handy at all, I had to find someone to build out a predator proof run and house for my hens.  This actually proved to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated.  I called handymen, wood workers and fencing companies and once they heard the word chicken, they hung up.  And in this economy too!

But with a little persistence, I found a GREAT fencing company to build out my run and cover it with heavy duty welded wire.  I opted to buy a ready made hen house and had it shipped to my driveway.  I took care of burying welded wire around the perimeter of the run to keep the digging critters out.  And after that was all in place, had a general contractor who was eager for work, come back and build out a frame above the run to cover it with corrugated sheets to keep the hens shaded and dry.

The one thing you'll notice that is very different about my setup is that the sides are all solid panels.  Our house is one side and the other three are solid fence boards.  Their only window to the outside world is the wire gate and above the run.  I'm not sure that's the most ideal situation, but it works for us and I don't think they really care.  They have no idea that a much bigger, crazy world exists outside their four walls.

Here are the fence guys building out their run.  You can see on the far left how the fence will come right down the property line.  On the right is the wall of the garage.  And that's their house just sitting in the middle of the run.

Basically the same shot as above only a few hours later as they are installing the fence boards.

Here you can see where I've pulled away dirt from the exterior fence line and stapled welded wire down and out away from the fence to keep digging critters out.  I also used 8" metal spikes to secure the wire into the ground.
And the finished product from the street side.  I had a BUNCH of extra bricks that were in a pile so I lined them up against the fence to give me one more deterrent layer against digging critters.  I know that won't stop them but it makes it obvious visually if something's been digging.  And thus far, we've had no issues.
And the Spice Girl's house.  Which we refer to as the Spice Cabinet.  I've since changed the icicle lights to chili pepper lights.  These hand crafted hen houses are amazingly well built and I simply adore this style.
This is the view from the entrance to their run just off our backyard.  You can see their house is up against the garage where it ALWAYS stays in the shade.  And if you look up, you can see the corrugated metal roof over their welded wire roof that keeps them shaded and dry.
Their run is 7' tall inside making it really easy to go in and out of there.  So I keep my compost bin (black box on left) in side their run and they have a fiesta when I move or turn it as it's full of bugs.  I also keep my wheel barrow in there because I have no other place for it.  They nap under it in the summer and perch on top of it in the winter.
They use the compost bin as their stage.  I frequently find one of them up there just cackling her head off.

And another shot of trying to turn the compost bin.  They get right under foot and while I used to be able to do this in about five minutes.  It now can take me a half hour while I shoo them away and gently try to scoop up and transfer the compost w/ out scooping up a hen.
Here's a wider shot of the inside of their run.  I try to keep lots of leaves on the ground which I spike w/ sunflower seeds to give them something to scratch for during the day.  I had plants in there originally but they destroyed those.  On the right you can see an over sized suet feeder which I'll fill with greens for them to peck at. 

Apple on a metal stick is always a crowd pleaser and gives the girls something to peck at.
And this is what I come back to at the end of the day.
And their Life is Good treat bowl.  Because life IS good for my girls.


And these last two photos is why we do this.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the photo of my three happy hens in each of their favorite nest boxes quietly going about their business.  And the bottom photo was from earlier when they were just starting to lay.  That was the first day we received an egg from each of the three hens on the same day.  And yes, back then they fought over the same nest box.  Their colorful eggs are like jewels to me and to this day I still get excited when I lift up the lid to the nesting boxes to find these treasures.

I hope you enjoyed my tour. 
If you have questions about anything I've done, feel free to post comments and I will answer.


  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure.
    I love your set-up. I live in a neighborhood on a small lot and I am always looking for ideas to increase my little feather-babies happiness! I found quite a few things in your set-up that one day I hope to incorporate.
    Thnaks Again,
    Kim from San Antonio :)

  2. This is a fantastic coop tour. You put so many wonderful touches and thoughts into it. I love compost bin in with the girls and their coop is darling. This will inspire others without a doubt. (I tried to post from my phone, thus the delay. I had to come home to my computer. Darn phone!)~Melissa

    P.S. Please link this up to our coop tours over on Tilly's Nest!

  3. Thank you both. I did put quite a bit of thought into this set up BEFORE we began and I'm so happy I did because it's worked well for us and for the hens. I should have also noted that I've found hawks sitting on top of the wire and we've found raccoon poop so I know the wildlife know we have chickens. But here we are a year into this and no issues what so ever. Whew!

  4. stopping by from the hop! I LOVE the lattice work on top of your run. That makes it look so great. What sweet hens and the egg colors are amazing.

  5. What a great tour, Flock Mistress, thanks for inviting me over!!!
    Of course, it's important to provide all the necessary care and comforts, and to have a safe environment, but I LOVE that it LOOKS BEAUTIFUL too.
    Keep blogging, girl....I enjoy your site.

  6. Thanks Maryann. I've been meaning to do that for soooo long. So glad it's out there. I hope it inspires more people to get chickens.

  7. I love your set-up, coop, run and the "apple on a stick!" Great post and tour :)

  8. Cute coop! And I love the apple on a stick!