Backyard Coop Construction and Chicken Philosophy

Fiona, the Leghorn, showing off her new grown-up wings.

Have I mentioned that chicks grow quickly? The Leghorn and Barred Rock flock is fast outgrowing its box. The chicks have taken to flying the length of it, and have recently mastered the art of spilling their water dish, much to our dismay.

We worked an eight-hour day on Saturday buying building supplies and beginning coop construction. We ended the day after dark, our headlamps faintly illuminating the gloom as we frantically screwed 2x4s and sawed lumber.

We were at it again this afternoon, and I have to say that I’m really impressed with our progress. Despite multiple miscalculations and three separate trips to the hardware store in which we puzzled for what seemed like hours over bracket configurations, screw lengths, and our illegible diagram, we’ve almost completed the coop frame. Kelly had the good sense to suggest calling it a night today at 7:30, when we discovered we had miscounted our t-brackets yet again and will need to make another trip to the store.

From massive leaf pile, swarm catcher, and concrete rubble mound... leveled ground and a 7'x14' coop frame.

Still, the bare bones of the chicken coop look so good that we discovered we had both started fantasizing about turning it into an art studio instead. So much for chickens.

While the chicks remain confined to their cardboard box, they have a new play structure to keep them occupied. Kelly constructed it today, fashioning a loft, a roost, and a chicken ladder out of scraps of wood. The girls appeared pleased, and very interested, and I’m struck yet again by how smart chickens seem compared to their reputation.

I had a similar experience when raising rabbits years ago. Contrary to the stupidity I expected to see in them, I found my rabbits to be not only highly capable and engaging, but also wise. Perhaps this sounds like a strange choice of words, but I came away utterly convinced of their wisdom and decency. I feel quite certain that I would be a better human being if I possessed what seems to come so naturally to animals, that is, complete focus on being a creature of my kind in the world. The rabbits had it, the bees have it, and now I see it in the chicks as well.

Please excuse my tangential philosophizing. In short, the coop is half completed, and the chickens are growing faster than I could have imagined!

Who says chickens don't like ladders?!

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