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Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Chicken Coop 2018

So, what have I been up to lately? Chickens, chickens and more chickens!  I have really found a passion (alongside gardening) with keeping chickens!  This past spring we expanded and modified the coop and just had the fence painted this past weekend. To most people that probably isn't all that exciting, but to me - it feels so good to finally get everything and everyone in their place. To see older versions of my chicken coop click here and here.


I lost my sweet Josie last year - she was my ten year old black Silkie .  Leaving me with just two chickens ~ Gizzy and Pearl. Feeling sad, I had the idea to add to my flock by hatching my own eggs instead of bringing home baby chicks or pullets.  So my kids and I purchased a dozen eggs from a local farm and after 21 days of anxiously waiting four out of the twelve hatched.  They were a fun project for our family and we really enjoyed the process....two were roosters which were rehomed immediately as I cant keep roosters.  Two were hens, but I realized that they were considered "smooth silkies" and not the fluffy "bearded" and "tufted" ones that I am used to. So I decided to rehome those as well. Over the past several months I've been bringing home dozens of chicks, just a couple at a time and enjoying the baby stages. Growing the Silkie breed out takes months and months to determine if they are either a hen or rooster, most say you don't know until the chicken either lays and egg or crows. I've rehomed several as I keep getting roosters which is disappointing since you get attached to each and everyone of these little chicks.

While growing out my day old chicks indoors - I realized that I can only keep these little darlings in my home for so long.  They do become stinky and dusty - I am at my maximum after about three weeks of keeping them inside our home.  I found a rabbit cage at our local feed store that I can keep the teenagers in awhile longer while they still require a heat lamp until about six weeks of age. All of this hands on experience made me realize my coop needed to be expanded and also required separate compartments while the babies grew out as the different ages require different needs.  Food, vitamins, type of shavings, nesting boxes, etc. all play a roll in growing out baby chicks of any breed.

This photo below are my five current "growouts" all hatched at Easter. 


This group of three are ones that I brought home last November and are definitely hens - still waiting on eggs though.  Silkies can take up to a year to start producing eggs. I know it sounds silly to keep chickens if you aren't getting eggs daily, but these beauties are more for esthetics in my gardens.  Silkies are known to not destroy gardens as most other backyard poultry.


Are you ready to see the final unveiling of what it looks like today? Again if you want to see older versions of my chicken coop click here and here.  The coop sign is from Castle & Cottage. It's one of my favorite things about the coop area. I keep it stored during the winter months and enjoy it during the summer months. 


As you can see from the photo above, the coop now has four doors opening from the front. Each of the four compartments can be sectioned off or opened as one large coop for the girls to roam throughout the entire coup. There is a single ladder to get to the top compartment where the floor is solid, this is the area I am keeping my grow outs.  Each of the other sections have very small wire flooring.  My chickens free range most days, so I have no concerns about the bottoms of their feet as this has worked fine since 2011. The little doors within the coop open and close and lock with a little handle above the opening. Currently I have two sections available to the older hens, the babies/teenagers are on the top with shavings and the newest side is closed off completely.  Each section other than the bottom middle has a bar for my adult hens to roost - my Silkies do roost, some say theirs do not.  


I ordered wooden nesting boxes, but the hens seem to prefer these galvanized bins from Home Depot. I am using these nesting pads from Amazon to cushion the bottom of the bins so the eggs don't break.




Because of the coop modifications that I made cleaning and egg collection needed to be addressed.  My coop is set off the ground on 4x4's that sit directly on 10x10 pavers.  The pavers help prevent rot of the wood legs and also prevents predators from digging into the coop from underneath.  As I stated earlier I have the smallest wire flooring that helps eliminate most predators as well. To collect eggs, I simply open the back door and collect the eggs.  Because this door is somewhat heavy (also a good predator deterrent), a chain has been attached to hold the door while I collect the eggs. To clean I just simply open all of the openings and hose the inside of the chicken coop out, I can reach in either side of the coop to access - after hosing out and allow for complete drying - I splash an entire gallon of Costco vinegar in every single nook and cranny to keep my chickens clean and healthy.



I love to come up and sit with the chickens and watch them roam the garden.  Even thought they have the entire yard to do so, they mainly stay closer to the coop - digging in the gravel rocks keeps them happy for bugs dust baths which is fine with me as they don't do too much damage in the landscape. I even used an old chicken feeder to plant succulents in as one of my planters this year.
 

I still have most of the main staples of the chicken coop I added years ago. the arbor that separates the patio and the chicken coop is a favorite - still growing the same roses, Blush Noisette and Cottage Rose along with the clematis Terniflora clematis (also known as Sweet Autumn). I've picked up vintage bricks at garage sales and slowly have added them to the arbor area and directly in front of the coop picket fenced gate.


The faux weathervane that I found and painted and assembled to the top of the coop is still in place as is the sweet rustic birdhouses both sitting on 4x4 poles. 



New this year are two galvanized tubs sitting in front of both sides of the picket fence filled with Koko Loko roses which are to bloom any day now. In the back ground are bleeding hearts and around the base is white petunias, alyssum seeds, along with different wildflower seedlings I've saved from past years tossed in the dirt. There is a plant in the very front that I can't identify after I brought it home from the NWFGS earlier this spring. If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear - I was thinking a tuber rose, but can't confirm....


Having these galvanized containers brings more green to the chicken coop area and will share the blooms as they bloom - it also keeps the bunnies and chickens from eating the seedlings I've spread in several parts of the landscape but only seeing them happily grow here.  

Here are a few of my adult hens exploring the landscape.  


...and here is the tiniest two babies I've recently brought home.  

There are so many beautiful colors offered to us in the Silkie breed. Currently I have white, partridge (originally thought to be black), blue, splash, paint, buff, grey, blue cream and porcelain. Some of these are in the growout stage so I don't know what I can keep and what will need to find a good home for.  I truly just enjoy every stage of these chickens. 

Look forward to hearing what you all think (if you are even reading), happy to answer questions as well. Please know you can find me both on Facebook and Instagram if you want to see more garden photo's. 

xoox, tracie 

6 comments:

Lady of the Manor said...

Love your gardens! We have hens, too, and we enjoy their antics and their eggs. The additions you’ve made to your coop are so nice. Enjoy your new silkies!!

Marlene Stephenson said...

I love your area for your chicken coop and those are such cute chickens. Would love to raise some if they weren't too much trouble for one person to take care of,that has been my fear. I think they have such sweet personalities.

Connie said...

Your peeps and your coop are both adorable. I've been thinking chicken, but I just can't decide. My husbands doesn't want anything that will tie us down from camping and traveling. Two things that we have never done much, but now that we are retired we want to get out and enjoy the whole outdoor camping thing, LOL.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Your chickens live in a luxurious penthouse, Tracie!

Andrea said...

Tracie-Great garden & LOVE your silkies and coop!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What an interesting post. I love your breed of chickens and they must be a delight to have. They have beautiful surroundings and a wonderful coop.

FlowerLady