Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our girls

I've been showing off some holiday projects of mine, but today I want to tell you about Craig's summer holiday project: building a chicken coop for our vege garden. As you might know, Craig is very handy (he made me a cotton reel holder, built the play hut in this post, and heaps more).  Ok, I'm showing off my husband now! Back to the chickens and their house:

These are our three young Brown Shaver pullets, named by the children: Long Neck, Greedy and Fluffy. I'm having serious trouble telling them apart at this stage though. Just in case you don't know, pullets are young chooks that don't lay yet. 

We've been keen to get chickens for eggs mainly, but also to eat some of our scraps, dig over our garden and give manure for compost.  As we don't have a very big garden, there's not a lot of space for a free-standing coop, so we decided on a chicken tractor instead.  That's a portable coop that sits on the grass or garden so that chickens can scratch around, eat the bugs and compost the soil before you move it to a different part of the garden. 

Craig divided the vege garden into sections using bricks, which the coop sits on.  He designed the coop and built it (mostly by himself, but as you can see he had a trusty helper at times) for about $200.  You can find some plans for coops in books; my favourite chicken book actually has plans for a very similar design as ours (Keeping chickens by Ashley English).  

Here they are in the front.  They spend most of the day out in the front and sleep upstairs, next to the laying box.  The shade sail was an afterthought, but very important for these sunny NZ days.  I've actually increased their solid shade by putting a piece of wood on top of the coop as well.  

We're all enjoying the girls very much; the boys love feeding them bits of grass and dandelion leaves and I find myself checking on them every so often.  It is very peaceful to sit there and listen to their quiet little chirps and watch them scratching around in the dirt.  I find it very satisfying to see them there in our vegetable garden, eating our lettuce and cauliflower leaves and to think that they will be contributing in their own way by making us nutrient-rich compost and lovely eggs.  

And to be honest, I think they're making us all a little bit happier too...


Rodney said...

Yes - chickens are fun!

You can get coloured chook leg-bands for next to nothing at Farmlands - they are essential if you want to be able to tell them apart.

CraftyFox said...

Cool chooks! In no time at all you will have yummy eggs. Start saving old egg cartons to put them in!
Amy C

Ruby in the Dust said...

Thanks for the tip, Rodney! I'll have to try and find some. And yes Amy, I've already started keeping the boxes, even though the eggs are probably more than a couple of months away; I can't wait for it :)