A New-Fangled Coop
I’ve been trying to find a warmer coop for my hens. The chicken tractor that they occupy is not only non-mobile, but is open on all sides with only scant shelter in the nesting ledge. This won’t do. I have tarps draped all over it, and raise and lower them with the sun to keep my girls from being in the wind. It isn’t perfect. Not being a carpenter, I have to search for what I want, and I’ve been searching for coops so much on the Internet that for awhile almost every ad that popped up was for coops! Most coops come unassembled, and not only are extremely pricey but look very thin-walled. Last Saturday over breakfast (of eggs, of course) I tried Craigslist. There were several used coops for sale, but not only would I have to disassemble and reassemble them, but the possibility of transferring disease or bugs was high. Then there appeared a new ad for coops in Temecula, just half and hour away from me! The Knotty Bird (https://sites.google.com/site/theknottybirdcompany/contact-us) is a home business of Crystal Braught. She and her husband create the coops in their home, and house their own flock of lovelies in the backyard. The three styles of coops that were offered were very well thought-out, and I loved the strawberry pyramid that was also offered. I had a wonderful talk with Crystal, who grows organic veg and recommended to me a most excellent seed source, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (http://rareseeds.com/) which not only offers hundreds of seeds from around the world, but sells only organic seed.
So I bought the middle-sized coop at a very reasonable price and hauled it home. (This all sounds so easy! But not for me! I wanted to use my son’s truck, but the insurance and registration had been let go. I spent awhile on the phone adding the truck to my insurance, and then trying in vain to register it on the DMV site. Then halfway there on the freeway the brakes began to grind and it sounded as if metal was dragging on the tire. I pulled off and looked, but didn’t discover anything. When I arrived safely (whew) home with the coop, I had to unload it alone so I propped up a planter, some wood, a piece of plywood I had to haul up from the bottom of the property, and then slowly walk the bottomless coop out of the truck and slowly down the plywood without destroying it or me. It weighs over 100 lbs. I haven’t lost my touch; all safe and sound).
I placed a couple of nursery flats lined with paper under their new roost upstairs for easy clean-up, and fluffed straw into the two small nestboxes. The coop I walked until it was over tall grass that I wanted gone. Then I brought the three girls up, one by one. They loved it. They scratched and tore off pieces of grass and had a grand time. At dusk, though, they stood there looking at me. Finally Chickpea went up the ramp into the living quarters. With some encouragement and direction from me, Miss Amelia and Lark finally went up there too. I still partially covered the coop with a blanket because it was going to be a cold and possibly windy night. Emerson, in his lonely cage at the lower end of the property, was quite the sad guy.
In the morning I fed the dogs outside and noticed that the girls hadn’t come downstairs. I waited and later went out and they still weren’t! I opened the side to peek, and found that they had moved one of the lined nursery flats over the exit hole! Poor girls! I moved it and they eagerly came down, but weren’ that interested in the grass anymore. I thought maybe they’d eaten too much the day before. They stood and watched me work. Very eerie.
I tried to encourage them back up the ramp to the nesting boxes, but they would have none of it. Finally, exasperated, I opened the door and they scuttled down the hill and it was an easy thing to shoo them into their old cold coop. Chickpea went right up the ramp to lay an egg. My poor girls! The coop may not work for these girls, but now I have a seperate place for the Frizzles I want to get come spring! And instead of one large coop with a lot of pecking and competition, I can have several small coops placed around the property, each being a chicken tractor while the girls scratch up the grass and feed the soil.