The Chickominium

A month ago I introduced you to the adorable fluff balls known as Fred, Cuddles and the rest of the girls.  AKA, our baby chicks.  In just 4 weeks these formerly tiny chicks have morphed into big birds with fully functional wings.  And once chicks start flying around the living room, it’s time they move outside.

My husband & I had to build a coop, and fast.  But having never owned chickens before, let alone built a coop, we needed to do a little research before starting construction.  We read a few books and found a photo of a coop we really liked.  A quick Google search turned up plans for the “Playhouse Coop” shown below.

The Playhouse Coop by Dennis Harrison-Noonan

Pretty?  You bet!  Only problem?  As written, the playhouse coop will house 5 large chickens.  We have six.  Like humans, chickens need adequate space or they get cranky and start to fight.  So we set the plans aside and decided to build our own improvised version of the Playhouse Coop using the photo as reference and making the rest up as we went along.  As the chickens say: Just Wing It!

Step One: The frame.

My husband (God Bless Him) laid everything out and did the cutting.  I just sweated and held things in place.  Together we got it done.

Next Step?  Roof installation.  Unfortunately our 2nd trip to Home Depot ended in an extended trip to the emergency room.  NOTE: flat metal roofing is deadly.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

… 8 stitches & four hours later…

All patched!  PS: The stitches are now out and the cut is healing nicely. My daughter is not a fan of the ER though she is now quite fond of surgical gloves.

Next day?  Back to Home Depot.  Feel free to scroll back up and take a gander at that leg.  You’ll thus understand why we spent quite a bit of time avoiding the metal roofing aisle, finally enlisting the aid of a sales clerk to load said sheeting onto our cart, while the ladies and I cowered 10 ft away.  My husband kept instructing us all to STAND BACK as though the roofing would leap from the cart and attack us.  We then got another Home Depot guy to help load it onto my husband’s car, while we waited in another car altogether.  YOU CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL WITH THAT FLAT METAL ROOFING.

Next up?  Roof supports.  I didn’t get any actual photos of the roof supports going up b/c I was too busy holding them while my husband screwed them in place.  After that we started assembling the chicken house.  Here’s the back.

I love this window!  Not only is it super cute, but it allows us to spy on the chickens!  I mean, it allows the chickens to look out (and US to look IN !)  The large window also filters in as much sunlight and warmth as possible, which, living in MAINE, will prove crucial when it’s 10 below.  Not quite as great on days like today (over 90 degrees), but you can’t have everything…

Next up?  Nest boxes.

They may look like magazine holders, but not for long.

2 nest boxes per side, plenty roomy for 6 chickens.  Chickens like to roost while relaxing, but the pecking order ensures they fight for the highest perch.  To try to ward off competition (and save the chickens nesting below from a crap-fest), we placed shelves over the boxes AND hung supports for two wide wooden perches.

AND since the whole point of keeping chickens (apart from their fabulous personalities and free fertilizer) is, of course, FRESH EGGS! we cut egg retrieval doors in each side of the hen house structure, strategically positioning the doors in the middle for easy access to both nesting boxes.

Onto roof installation.  You see from the photos below that my husband handled this strictly by himself. FEEL FREE TO SCROLL BACK UP & LOOK @THE LEG.

You can also see from the pictures that the front of the hen house has a hinged door.  Since our chickens eat like pigs, they produce a lot of waste matter which must be cleaned out at least once a week.  The hinged door lifts and locks in place, making these weekly coop-cleanings a breeze (save for the chicken poo).  The front of the house also has a little door w/ ladder to allow the chickens to climb in and out at will.  My husband’s homemade ladder is lovely.

After finishing the box and roof, we moved onto wiring.  Not electricity but SECURITY!  We have many hungry predators cruising the yard just waiting for a tasty chicken morsel to come their way.  We wired not only the sides of the cage, but the ground.  That’s right!  We extended the wire all the way to the ground, surrounding the house with, in essence, a wire moat, making it virtually impenetrable to even the wiliest of foxes (or chipmunks – who previously had been breaking in by digging beneath the frame.  NO MORE FOOD FOR YOU!)

We even installed a rope perch & bowls for our conure, Kiwi, so she can hang out w/ the hens on hot days.

Here is the finished coop.  We still have plans to paint it, but that’s on hold at present.  Last weekend we moved the structure onto a pressure-treated wooden base, surrounded by river rocks.  For now it is DONE.

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43 thoughts on “The Chickominium

    1. Thanks so much Tori! Although the chickens (now that they’ve tasted freedom – aka free ranging) wait w/ bated breath at the door of the Ritz to be let out each morning. At least they don’t complain too much when we herd them back in!

      PS: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me why I can’t get your blog to load on my computer!!!! I have tried it countless times now and every time it crashes my browser. Argh=!!

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    1. Thanks so much CW! Her leg is healing very well; the cut was so incision-like and clean there shouldn’t be much of a scar if any. SO glad to be done the coop. As much as I’d like to paint it, I am taking a work break for a while. Watching my kids is tiring enough..

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  1. I LOVE THESE CHICKENS!! Have I mentioned that yet? Seeing all of this makes me love them even more, weirdly. I just love imagining them climbing the ladder and roosting close to each other and producing so many eggs to make you happy. Oddly, poo and predators don’t come up in this imaginary scenario at all.

    Neither does that CUT! Poor kid. Tell her thanks for taking one for the team, though. The “team” being your blog and me.

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    1. Georgia is always happy to do her part!

      ..except in this case! I keep reminding her of potential accidents. Like today, we’re at the store and she’s trying to ride on the bottom on the cart (you know, the part where you shove the dog food, etc.) I tell her – you know, your leg could totally get caught in that wheel and it’ll be right back to the ER. She got off. And it was so much easier than yelling at her GET OFF THE CART!

      As for the chickens, boy are they feeling the love.

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  2. I am so sorry for your daughter’s awful cut. YIKES! I’m glad it is healing nicely.

    As for the chickominium, kudos again! Is there anything your husband can’t build? I guess the chicks are “movin’ on up”. And it doubles as an aviary for Kiwi! I hope they are compatible. 😉 I’d hate to see some chickokeets running around. LOL

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    1. Good golly, chickokeets! I thought I had my hands full already, but bigger fatter birds that squawk? Help me. Kiwi is outside and STILL I CAN HEAR HER (as can the neighbors.. bwhahahah) 😉

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  3. Wow! Your family’s projects continue to impress and inspire. Best wishes for your daughter’s speedy recovery: obviously she has a very vested interest in the comfort of those chickens!

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  4. How time flies. Those are full grown chickens! still adorable though. I’m glad your daughter is okay. That was one big laceration. She is brave. The “coop” project looks great. Way better than a commercial one . Those chickens are so lucky. I enjoy the fact that it was a family event and that everyone was so passionate about it. I wish and your family the best. wonderful post.

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  5. Very nice coop! Those are pretty lucky chickens. Sorry to hear about the leg, but in any great project, there are always casualties. Sheet metal can slice you open like a razor. Which I guess you know now.

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  6. oh my gosh! miss georgia!!! i hope she’s doing better. 😦 that cut looks awful–and so many stitches! (tell her i’m currently sporting 2 stitches myself –don’t ask–and feel her pain.
    now, on to your SEKSI handyman husband. that is it. send him to my house immediately. i will lavish him with salty, processed foods in exchange for home repairs. honestly! who builds a chicken coop that is nicer than some houses???? do you know what a gem of a man you have? he’s a tech nerd, strapping and brawny, AND can build and repair stuff. please tell me he’s deathly afraid of spiders or something–he must have an achilles’s heel. i’m sending ant off to some home improvement classes as we speak. hahahah.

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    1. Whoa Nat – that’s a LOT of saliva you left on my computer! LOL

      I made John read your comment. He said it was very flattering. Then he started reading about sheds again. The man is a machine.

      Poor Ant. he better start building you some shelves and adopting an Irish accent or narrating a book or something, or he’s likely to get locked out. 😉

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  7. Oh. My. God. The eg. How did you not lose your mind?? And she looks like a trooper!

    We’ve been looking at chicken coops and I decided that I liked the Catawba Converticoop because you could move it around the yard and I could mow less and have the chickens do my work and yes I am lazy what is your point?

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    1. Hayden, you are not lazy.. You are smart! We built the coop to be portable, but the honkin thing must weigh 400 hundred pounds. It is portable in theory only at this point.

      I am all about getting the chickens to mow my lawn. we’ve also enlisted the guinea pigs. If I could just get me a nanny goat or two, life would be complete..

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  8. Ah! Your chicks are so freaking cute!! I remember when my family lived on a farm. I was 7, and we had a huge chicken house with ten soft reddy brown chickens, and a whole pack of cute wee fuzzy chicks. I used to spend hours there watching them and holding my nose (because chicken poop STINKS!)

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  9. Hi Christy! I had to check in here to see how things are going -your blog looks so beautiful and the photos of your recipes are outstanding! Keep up the great work. You are so beloved by so many and I know exactly why -you are divine! xo

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    1. Seriously Tony, her leg looked like pizza — there’s something very wrong about seeing the INSIDE of your child’s leg.

      Roxy is totally smitten with the chickens. Much like Wile E. Coyote was w/ the Roadrunner.

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  10. Wowsers! That is one massive cut on your daughter. I’m cringing at the thought of it. The chicken coop is impressive. You guys have skillz. Yeah, skillz with a z.

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  11. OMG your poor baby….that looked like one nasty cut. Hope she is feeling better. And I ahve to admit, i side with your husband on this, those metall sheets might just fly off the cart, better to be safe than sorry.

    Second, I am SERIOUSLY impressed with the coup. I would make a crooked dollhouse, nevermind and entire structure that you altered. NICE WORK. Are you sure you guys arent part of the “This Old House” team?

    Third, you havent been posting much and I miss you. sniff sniff.

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    1. Thanks babe – you are too kind! If only John and I had the financial backing of This Old House or a generous millionaire… Oooohh I can just DREAM what we’d accomplish!!

      Georgia is all better now — though the chickens really like pecking at her scab (ewww) — hope you’re having fun this summer w/ your little ladies. I loved reading about your girls weekend!! XO

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