Sunday, October 5, 2008

Coop Round Up

All winter we had the coop right out the back door in the yard. It was in a great spot to watch the goings on while standing at the kitchen sink. And it was a quick walk to get eggs, close it up at night and open it in the morning.

Plus, in January, it was right next to the ice skating rink. (Reason #623 why we don't have a manicured lawn.)

But we don't have a big yard, and the coop's position really ate up a good chunk of it. So this spring we moved it across the yard on the hill that marks the end of the yard and the beginning of the woods. There is a flat area that was an overgrown garden when we moved here and John used as a place for a metal storage shed, which he moved further up the hill and in the woods.

The chickens have more room to roam, have some shade from the trees, and have a great time scratching around in the hay we threw down. This photo is taken from our upstairs bathroom window, and it is one of life's simple pleasures to watch your chickens as you brush your teeth in the morning.

However, our original plan of having the coop like a "chicken tractor" that gets moved around the lawn hasn't panned out. It is cumbersome to move, the enclosed coop area isn't really big enough to keep six chickens happy, and they trash the lawn in about a day and a half. It takes much longer than that for the grass to come back. So the coop is parked.

But since the coop is on a hill, we had a problem with escapees. It took us a while to figure it out, but 3 chickens (are the others afraid of heights? Not as smart? Who knows!) consistently fluttered from the top of the retaining wall behind the coop to the roof, then walked down the roof and flew over the fence. Probably as close to soaring as a chicken will ever get.

We didn't mind it so much in the beginning, but chickens scratch indescriminately, and never throw the dirt where you would like it to go. If there is a sidewalk nearby, they will ALWAYS scratch dirt and mulch onto the sidewalk.

So after several attempts at baffles (see the orange tape in the photo above) to keep the chickens off the roof of the coop, we finally resorted to clipping the wing feathers of any escapees found in the grass. It seemed to work, and now that their feathers have grown back, they seem to have forgotten that it is possible to fly out. Good thing.

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