Home » chickens » coop building : part 5 : Finished! With dragons!

coop building : part 5 : Finished! With dragons!

My dream coop is finished! And it far exceeds my dreams… of course, because my Dad built it! We made a few finishing touches the last couple of days, but it was close enough to move Alberta and Frances in on Friday night. As much time as they’ve been hanging out in there during the building process, I think they were a bit surprised to have a sleep over. I was curious where they would sleep, since they haven’t been roosting to sleep yet inside, just cuddled up in a corner, so I assumed they would do the same in the coop. I purposely didn’t put any pine shavings in the nesting boxes yet, so they wouldn’t get into the habit of sleeping in those. I went out to check on them when it got dark, and they were curled up in the corner by the front door. They were a little freaked out, so I cuddled them a bit and sang them a song, which seemed to settle them down. I’m sure the many night noises were disturbing, and they were probably visited by curious cats peeking in. My husband also spotted a whole family of raccoons strolling through in the middle of the night, but he said they seemed more interested in Gloria’s little coop. (poor Gloria! But at least she is used to their visits).

Without further ado…. here are photos of the finished coop (& courtyard):

coop-front

And from the front with my other silly kids:

coop-front-kids

From the side, with all the girls (I had to bribe them with corn to get them all in the photo):

coop-chickens

And here’s how it will look wide open on our favorite pleasant free-ranging days:

coop-open3

I thought it needed some decoration, to give it a bit of chicken personality, and to match the white paint on the window. I was thinking of little chickens, but when I told my husband about it, he said (jokingly, I think) “Why not a dragon?” I laughed, but after trying my sketches in paint on wood and not being happy with them, I started playing with the paint the way it seemed to want to be applied on the wood, and my chicken became very dragon-like. So now we have 3 guardian chicken-dragon sigils on the doors and windows. May they scare away away all predators of evil intent! Long live House Fluffy! (named after our sweet pullet that got killed by a raccoon, and the reason we’ve become so vigilant about predator proofing.)

Closeups of the chicken dragons:

chicken coop decoration painting

chicken coop painted decoration

chicken coop painted decoration

Mae wanted to try painting on wood also… of course the local art critics had to look on:

mae-painting

The kids tried the coop out first by eating dinner in there. Mae thought it would be fun to have a sleepover with the chickens sometime… until she laid down and looked up to see what was right over her head… maybe not. 🙂

kids-in-coop

The next morning, the little girls hopped up on their roosts to have a look around:

roosts-morning

Yes, Alberta, you can get up now!

alberta-morning

Gloria didn’t mind hopping up there for a bit when there was food to tempt her:

gloria-coop-food

Hanging Feeders at last! No more poop in the water! (I hope.)

hanging-feeders

Lots of lovely dirt to scratch around and bathe in (come on up and join the party, worms!)

coop-dirt

Extra clips on the closed latches (simple, but effective) also double as a way to keep the door open while free-ranging.

door-open

The ramp, with the door closed. (the handle matches the slide-in coop window) We thought about installing a pulley system for this door, as in the original design, but it will probably remain open most of the time, so we didn’t bother with it. It just slides up, and we put in a pin to hold it there. The ramp and the coop floor are both made from boards that my Dad made himself from hemlock trees on his property. (cool, huh?)

ramp-door2

Now, our biggest challenge ahead of us will be how to move Gloria in. I’m fine with them living separately right now, at least for the next few weeks as the little girls finish their growing up. I don’t want them to free-range unattended during the day as they are still small enough to be stalked by cats, and Gloria needs to have access to her nesting box. But the bigger issue is that Frances and Alberta are still incredibly scared of Gloria, and freak out whenever she gets close. They have good reason to be, since she can act totally nonchalant most of the time, then “attack” them out of nowhere. I’m trying to understand her perspective. I don’t think she means to hurt them, and mostly I think she wants to just hang out with them (besides making sure they don’t receive better treats). But she is a bit of a tyrant, perhaps because they are smaller, and they still seem like intruders, only coming into the yard periodically. I’m hoping that as they reach their full size, and start free-ranging all day with her, this dynamic will change, but what if it doesn’t? I keep trying to tell her that all of this effort and intrusion started as a gift to her… so she can have friends and a nicer place to live, but I don’t think she believes me.

If things don’t change naturally, is there a point when I should just move her over there during the night, and close up the other coop? I shudder to think of doing that right now, the little ones might have a heart attack. Are they ever going to feel less threatened by her? Any advice about this transition is welcome. 🙂

 

 

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19 thoughts on “coop building : part 5 : Finished! With dragons!

  1. That chicken house is AMAZING. Absolutely beautiful! Your Dad should be very proud of himself, and the dragon chickens are very cute too. I love seeing photos of your chickens, they are gorgeous girls. We are having a little trouble with our chickens arguing with each other. Rose seems to have taken a sudden, horrible dislike to poor Grace and just picks on her and chases her away from the food and door, etc. She seems to spend half her time on the roof away from her. 😦 We have found though, that as long as Grace doesn’t go near her, she doesn’t actively pick on her. I think Gloria would pick on them a little bit but as long as they are able to get to the top roosts they should be ok. They will get used to her eventually. I think maybe putting all the chickens in together straight away would perhaps be an idea as it would be brand new to all of them so they would concentrate on that, rather than each other? Or,since the two youngest are in there, it would just be Gloria that is new, so it would feel like the little ones patch? If you see what I mean? Just a thought. That’s what we did when we got the chicken coop moved to the bottom of the garden with the added run. Again, lovely post!

    • Thank you so much! I’m sorry your girls are having issues as well. Why are they so mean to each other, while still wanting to be around each other? It’s as if they had human personalities! I was wondering about just putting them all together at night myself. Scary, but possibly a good idea to do it while it’s fresh? I could still leave her coop open during the day for the next couple of weeks, so she can free-range and lay her eggs in there while the little ones have to be locked in the run.

    • Well, I tried putting them all together for bed last night, since Gloria seemed to want to go into the new coop with them when it started to get dark, but it didn’t go over very well once they realized they were locked in together. They might have been OK eventually, but when they started hurling themselves against the door to get out (even Gloria), it was too much for me, so I decided to back off and see what happens in the next few weeks. I guess it was worth a try. 😉

  2. Beautiful coop…beautiful art work…I’m so impressed! Wish I had some answers for you, but chickens can be very mean to each other. Somehow they work it out in their own chicken way.

    • Thank you so much! That’s especially nice to hear from an accomplished painter. 🙂 And my husband basically said the same thing to me tonight: “Some things you just can’t control, Sweetie.” I’m sure he’s right, but I wish he wasn’t. 😉

  3. Your father outdid every coop builder in the history of coop builders. If there isn’t a coop building hall of fame, there should be one and he should be in it!

    As for how/when to make the final step with merging, I think advice is hard to give without being there – even then I doubt it’s clear. I finally merged our 6 chickens because a) they seemed to be less aggressive to each other and b) I got tired of managing 2 flocks. That was about a month ago and they are more settled every week but there is still a pecking order that is reinforced many times a day. No damage is done but I’m not sure there is as much peace, love and understanding as I’d like. I’ve heard of people who have chickens who never peck but I’ve never had that joy. My attitude is that if it’s a peck, a run/submit followed by normal chicken stuff, that’s fine. If it’s a peck, a pull/jump/bite followed by screaming and flapping, well….

    Good luck with it.

    • Thank you! I would definitely nominate my Dad to the coop building Hall of Fame. 😉

      And thanks for sharing your experience about your merger. Gloria seemed like she wanted to go in with the girls last night, so I thought I’d give it a try, but once they realized they were locked in together, nobody was happy about it, least of all Gloria (which surprised me a bit), so I decided to back off and not force it right now… especially since I don’t really have a compelling reason with the hot dry weather. They can sleep across the yard from each other for now… I’m OK with that.

  4. Lovely coop! Don’t try to pick your chicken’s friends… it never works! ha ha Size matters too, so don’t expect harmony in any coop where there are young birds. I keep my flocks separate, but allow them to free roam together. They eventually meet in the middle over time and get along… the pecking order changes constantly, but you can’t force it.

  5. Thanks, everyone for your kind words. I really enjoyed this project. And thank you Melissa (and fam!) for the “WE ARE 12” book for my birthday!!! You are all so precious. GO seaHAWKS!! And DUCKS!!! (just leave those chickies be 🙂

  6. Pingback: How many chicken coops does a girl really need? | My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

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