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From the moment we bought our homestead, I've wanted chickens. I just love chickens. They are cute, entertaining, fairly low maintenance, and provide eggs and, if one desires, meat for the table. I figured we'd throw a few boards together, stuff a few chickens in it, and call it a chicken coop. But my wonderful husband had something different in mind. He designed an 8X8 slant roof coop that any chicken would be proud to live in. It's a coop that I would be proud to live in!

So, this webpage is dedicated to the Chicken Coop DeVille. I'll share the pictures of the coop and some info about how we build it. And I'll share the pictures of our chickens - from little peeps to full grown chickens.

As a side note, depending on who you talk to and what you read, chickens need between two and four square feet of space per chicken in a coop. We started with 25 birds and opted for an 8X8 coop. That's 64 square feet, and with plenty of roosting space, this ended up being the perfect size for us..

Welcome to Chicken Coop DeVille!

 

04/12/2008 - This is what we started with. Bernie planted some cinder blocks in the ground and laid two treated 4X4 timbers on them and made sure they were level. The seven boards laying across them in this picture were just laying there and not nailed yet in. That happens in the next picture.
The floor joists were laid 16 inches on center and hammered in place. I got a lot of experience hammering during this project.
Here I am hammering on the pressure treated flooring. You can barely tell that I'm on the verge of tears from all the dad-gum hammering I did. I'm sure building up those hammer muscles on this project.
The front wall is 8 feet tall. As you look at this picture, envision a door on the right, and a window on the left.
04/14/2008 - We built the back wall today - it's 7 feet tall. Then we braced the front and back walls in place.
This is the inside of the front wall.
This is the inside of the back wall.
And this is Bernie chilling out at the end of the day. Not only is he the cutest thing I've ever laid my eyes on, he can build a chicken coop like nobody's business! By the way, I actually ordered the chickens today. Yay! I ordered 25 of them from Murray McMurray's. They'll be here around May 19. We should have their home ready for them by then.
04/19/2008 - I have to work during the day, but Bernie continued on without me this week, until I could join him in the afternoons. He got the roof framed out in short order. He notched the boards to fit on the header.
He's finishing up the rafters here.
He's putting on the sheeting here. I actually helped with this part. That's no small accomplishment, considering my extreme fear of heights.
Three walls have T1-11 now, The front window is in, the door opening is cut out, and Bernie got the side window and little chicken door framed up.
The last wall got some T1-11.
Bernie got the window on the side wall, and then we made and installed the door. Chicken Coop DeVille is coming right along! I think it's kind of looking like an old western town.
04/29/08 - All the recent rain has slowed down progress a little, but we've still managed to get a lot accomplished. Here's a picture of the nest box shelf Bernie built. I haven't got the nests in it yet, but you can see it's a nice one! It's removable so I can do a thorough coop cleaning when necessary.
We also got the roosts put up. We may need additional roost space. We'll see once the chicks get here and start growing.
Bernie also got the soffit put up under the roof.
He also got the trim on.
Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this week and we'll be able to put up the fascia, install the chicken door and walk plank, and build some steps.
05/03/2008 - Busy week on the homestead. Bernie only spent one day on Chicken Coop Deville this week, but I am quite pleased with the results! Here's the new chicken door, from the inside. He made it from a layer of floor sheeting, covered with the T1-11 he cut out for the whole, and then framed in treated lumber. It was all scrap wood leftover from the rest of the building.
This is the inside of the main door. We put on an old door knob we had laying around so I can pull the door shut when I'm inside, if needed. We also attached a little lock latch and installed it on a piece of floor sheeting to push it out a bit so the lock would slide into the middle of the door frame when closed.
Here's the lock latched. He just drilled a hole in the door frame and the lock just slides into it. We just thought it might be a good idea to be able to securely close the door from the inside, should I have reason to be in there and not want chickens to get out.
This is looking down from the door frame. We installed a removable barrier out of a 2 X 4 attached to a 1 X 4, that conforms to the door frame. It'll keep the litter in, and I can remove it when I clean out the coop. You can even see the new steps Bernie made for me today in this picture.
Here's the removable barrer from the outside. It fits very snugly and I think it will work beautifully!
Here's the front of the coop right now. We have steps! And Bernie installed the fascia on the front and back. We need to get a couple of longer boards for the sides. When he finishes the last two pieces of fascia, he'll be finished with the building construction! Look closely on the right bottom - is that a chicken ramp????
It IS a chicken ramp! And look at that cute little chicken door!
Here I am showing you how proud I am of the chicken door and ramp!
Hey - where are the chickens? Not too much longer and we'll have a bunch of them bouncing in and out of that door.
Chicken Coop Deville is coming right along. This is a view of how "Chicken Town" looks today. Once Bernie gets the wood for the two remaining side fascia and installs them, he'll be finished with the construction of the building. Then I have to paint it. Yuck. But once I finish that, we will put the fence around the chicken yard, and call it finished!
Here's my general contractor, relaxing after a day of working in Chicken Town. He deserves it. I could just kiss his whiskers right off of him!
And here's Elvis, perched in a window and watching the goings on in Chicken Town. He seemed mildly entertained, but a little annoyed that the noise kept him awake a good part of the day.
05/04/2008 - Today we painted the Chicken Coop DeVille! I still need to paint all the trim white, and Bernie is going to put on the last 2 pieces of fascia this week before I start painting the trim. Then we just need to put the fence around the chicken yard, layer the inside of the coop with a couple of inches of litter, and install the nests. Oh - and put some little chickens in it.
05/10/2008 - The brooder is set up and waiting on the chicks' arrival. I made it using an old tool box that goes into the back of a pickup truck. It's about 4 feet X 2 feet. They'll only be in there 2 weeks - and then they'll move to the inside of the coop.
I just used the angle grinder to remove the lid, any rust, and all pokey objects. Then Bernie built me a nice lid for it out of 2 X 4s and some wire. He hinged about 1/2 of it so I can open it to get to the chicks and to clean it out.
The heat lamp positioning is very high tech. I clamp it to a dresser drawer and adjust the temperature of the coop by clamping the heat lamp to a higher or lower drawer. I covered the bottom of the brooder in pine chips and then covered that with paper towels. After 2 or 3 days when they get used to eating chick food and not pine chips, I'll remove the paper towels.
05/19/2008 - The chicks are here!! They are even cuter than I imagined - and WAY louder. I can't stop looking at them. The red tint on these pictures is from the heat lamp.
We ended up with 27 chicks. They sent a free "exotic" chick - and threw in an additional Phoenix. They run around so much I couldn't get a shot with all of them in it. Every single one of them arrived alive and healthy. One seemed a little sluggish at first, but she's doing fine now.
This precious little biddy is the one that was a little sluggish. She's so darn cute - and she's the only one that looks up at me when I talk to them in the brooder. Stay tuned, I'll post pics as they grow. And if you want to read about their travel ordeal in arriving to us, check out the Back to Basic Living Blog.
05/27/2008 - Well, all but 4 of the 27 chicks made it through the first week. The remaining 23 seem quite healthy at this point, so I am hopeful we are past the critical stage. This is a picture of Lucy. She's a White Faced Black Spanish and the friendliest of the flock.
This is a side view of Lucy. She's the tiniest one and seems to be developing a little slowly - but she appears very healthy and active.
This is either a Silver Leghorn, or a Phoenix. According to pics I've found, those 2 breeds look very similar as biddies.
This is a Golden Penciled Hamburg and another sweety. She's a little small compared to the others as well. You can read about the chicks' progress on the blog.
05/29/2008 - We took the chicks outside today for the first time. We let them run around in a 12X12 screened in porch tent thingy that Bernie set up for me.
It took them a few minutes, but before long they were really getting into the whole pecking and finding stuff thing. This picture cracks me up - look at the chick in the upper left portion of this pic. She stretched out pretty good to make sure she didn't miss anything.
Once they discovered Bernie's boots, they had a hard time leaving them.
Look at those little precious biddies!
Here are two of the Golden Penciled Hamburgs. Cute, cute cute!
A little White Faced Black Spanish flew up on Bernie's lap to check him out.
One of these is a Phoenix, and the other is a Silver Leghorn. I think the one on the right is the Phoenix. I do have a reason for believing this....
And this is the reason. I received two Phoenix roosters - and I'm pretty sure this is one of them. He has a spur! And he's what I am currently basing my distinction of the Phoenix from the Silver Leghorns on. I could be wrong....
After about two hours of the great outdoors, the biddies started huddling around the box I brought them out in.
We took this as a definite sign that they were ready to head back to the brooder. I think it was a great time outside for the babies. They sunned, rolled, ran, flew, chirped, and pecked. What more could an iddy bitty biddy want on a sunny, warm day?
06/01/2008 - Here's the coop completely painted - finally!
We finished it up this weekend because this is the weekend we moved the chicks from their brooder to the coop.
They were scared at first and huddled in a corner for a while. Check out Amelia in the upper left, Prairie Doggin' above the others to stare at me. That girl cracks me up.
Lucy found a little clump of grass in the pine chips right away.
The chick in the front is the larger chick I've been curious about. I'm pretty sure this is the Silver Dorking rooster I ordered. He's got 5 toes and is considerably larger than the others. I miss having all the chicks in the house, but they sure seem happy in the coop with so much room to run and play. You can read about their big move and our empty nest on the blog.
06/09/2008 - On the hottest weekend this year, we decided to put up the fence around the chicken yard. For those of you that have never put up fencing, I'm including a few pictures of Bernie's home made fence stretcher to show how we stretched the fence before securing it to the posts. In this picture, you can see that he took 2 pieces of lumber and put on one each side of the fence and screwed them together. Then he wrapped a heavy chain around the lumber.
He looped the other end around the tow ball on the back of our Trail Blazer.
Then I inched the Trail Blazer forward until the fence was tight and Bernie told me to stop. Then I engaged the parking break and we secured the fence to the posts. We did this on all sides.
Here's the end result - minus the gate, which he built later. You may notice that the corner posts and gate posts all stick up a couple of feet above the wire fence. There is actually a reason for that.....
The tall posts are to add height inside the chicken yard so we can comfortably walk under the shrimp net (thank you Uncle Tealy!) that we stretched from the coop to the fence to protect the chicks from predators from above. You can see the really cool gate Bernie built in this picture too.
This is the gate open, and how it looks on the inside.
Finally, we enclosed the bottom of the coop with chicken wire to keep the baby chicks and most predators out from underneath the coop.
We decided to open the coop's chicken door and see if anyone wanted to venture outside into the new chicken yard. Amelia and Echo (who got her name because she copies everything Amelia does) were the first to make it up to the doorway and look around.
Amelia was the first to wander down to look over at the ground.
Pretty soon most of them played right around the door way.
As a side note, with the temperatures near 100 this weekend and the humidity around 75%, I got worried that the chicks would be too hot. I installed a fan in one of the coop windows. I also took an old, cleaned up kitty litter pan and filled it with pine chips and then poured cold water over the chips to soak them really well. The chicks love it! They nestle down on the chips and lay there for quite a while. When they get up they're wet, and I imagine that helps keep them cool for a little while. This is a picture of Lucy, fresh from her soak on the wood chips. If you click the picture, you can see the kitty litter box behind her. You can also see that she looks a bit like Phyllis Dillar with her gangly teenage body and her down and feather mixture all wet and spikey. That's Amelia checking out Lucy's funky looking tail feathers. I think I heard her laughing.
Big Roo Duke was the only one to actually venture out in the chicken yard. He immediately began gobbling up ants. We were all having a great time until Duke decided to pull a Houdini and squish his fat body between one of the wires of the fence and escape from the chicken yard. That put an end to all the barn yard fun for sure. You can read about Duke's Great Escape and capture on the blog.
06/17/2008 - The chicks are just over four weeks old now. They are growing like little weeds. This is a picture of Duke - our only confrirmed rooster. Notice the big, pink comb? That's one of the signs to look for in a roo the first four to six weeks. I'll be asking you to look at the comb of another chick I suspect may be another roo here in a little bit.
This is a picture of either a Phoenix, or a Silver Leghorn. They are staring to look different now and I can see the difference, but I still can't tell which is which.
That's a Leghorn or Phoenixs on the left, and a Golden Penciled Hamburg on the right. The Hamburg really has some pretty colors in those feathers.
I took this so you could compare Duke's size to one of the Hamburgs. Get a load of the size of those legs and feet! That is one big boy right there.
And here's Duke in all his four week glory. His feathers are really coming in beautifully.
Close up of a Hamburg.
That's one of the White Faced Black Spanish chicks on the left. Look at the comb on the chick to the right. You may need to click the pic to enlarge it. Compare that comb to the other chicks' combs and tell me what you think. I think this chick is looking rather roo-ish. I'll be watching this one....
Pretty little Leghorn or Phoenix.
Cute as a button little Leghorn or Phoenix.
Another Hamburg. I just love the coloring of the feathers.
This is a Phoenix or Leghorn looking like a sea gull.
Cute little Hamburg.
And this is one of the Black Spanish chicks on my leg. These little chicks continue to be the most friendly and less timid of the whole crew. They typically stay perched on my shoulders or head, so I don't get many pictures of them any more. Check out the latest blog entry for the latest on all the chicks - and the bear that paid us a visit last night.
06/22/2008 - The chicks turned five weeks old yesterday. They are growing like weeds. We've started letting them out in the chicken yard in the morning, and putting them in the coop at night. They are loving it. This is not a great picture, but if you click on it you can see Duke's (the Silver Dorking on the right) bright pink and large comb, and his wattles forming under his beek. He's next to a Silver Leghorn, and you can see he's quite a bit larger than she is.
This is our other good looking boy, Bobby Lee. Bobby is a Phoenix, and while not as large as Duke, he's just as good looking. I finally learned to tell the Phoenix's from the Silver Leghorn. It's all in the leg coloring. Phoenix's legs are slate colored and Silver Leghorn's are yellow.
This is a Silver Leghorn taking a sunbath on the chicken walk plank. I love those wings!
White Faced Black Spanish (left), Bobby Lee (middle), and a Golden Penciled Hamburg all sun bathing together.
This is one of the pretty little redheads. She's a Golden Penciled Hamburg.
This is one of the Phoenix pullets. I just love the way their little tails poke up in the air.
This pretty little White Faced Black Spanish is growing into her legs. These chicks have the longest legs I've ever seen on chicks!
Another pretty little Hamburg. Their coloring is just awesome.
The Silver Leghorns look like they are wearing bloomers to me. They are pretty little birds with good looking legs - if you're into that type of thing.
Look at how handsome Duke is. His feathers are coming in so nicely.
Left to right - a Phoenix, Silver Leghorn, and Duke the Silver Dorking.
Phoenix pullet prancing about.
07/22/2008 - (Note: I've been remiss in posting pictures. I do apologize. I have been pretty good at keeping the blog up to date with pictures though - and you'll probably want to see the video of Duke's first rooster crow at 6 weeks old!) At 8 weeks old, the chickens are really getting big. One of their favorite treats is watermelon. Another is yogurt. With the weather being so hot, they get watermelon daily right now.
And here are the boys - Duke on the left and Bobby Lee on the right. They look like they are discussing how in the world to keep all those girls in line.
boys And here's Bobby Lee in all his Roosterdom. He's a cute little thing.
As you can see, they really like their watermelon - it's about gone in this picture.
But they don't quit until there's nothing left to peck at.
09/23/08 - I took this next batch of pictures last week, when the chickens were about 17 and 1/2 weeks old. You can see they've really grown! This is Bobby Lee - just look what a fine boy he's turning out to be. He's the Phoenix rooster. And he started crowing last month - right around 14 weeks old. Look here for the video - he is just too cute!
I took all of these pictures while the chickens were out free ranging. I often let them out in the yard for a couple of hours before thier bedtime - which almost ended when a chicken hawk almost got one of them a little while ago! If you click to enlarge this picture you'll see that Bobby Lee found himself a moth. He's quite the forager.
Look at his sweet little face. That Bobby Lee is a good looking boy!
And here's Duke - he's turning into quite a rooster. He's very protective of the girls, and it's gotten him into trouble with me a time or two. But I really can't complain. He's exactly what I had hoped for in a rooster. His large size is attributed to the fact that he is a Silver Gray Dorking.
Here he is next to a couple of Hamburgs. The Hamburgs are the smallest of my hens, and you can see how much larger Duke is in comparison.
I wouldn't say Duke has a sweet face - he's got more of a rugged handsomeness about him.
Here's a close up of one of the Golden Penciled Hamburgs. They are supposed to have a "neat pointed rose comb", but I don't see much evidence of it yet. They're pretty little birds and fun to watch - but a bit skittish.
The hen up front is one of the Silver Leghorn hens and the one behind her is one of the Phoenix hens. They still look VERY similar, except for the fact that the Leghorns are starting to show a salmon color around the face and have yellow legs.
Here's one of the Phoenix hens. They have really sweet faces and, next to the White Faced Black Spanishes are the friendliest.
And here are a couple of the White Faced Black Spanish hens. They are the largest hens I've got - and really very sweet. I can hardly walk into their coop without one or two of them ending up on my shoulders. They're starting to get white around thier ears, and once they molt they should have completely white faces.
10/11/2008 - Our first egg! The hens were just 2 days short of 21 weeks when I found this little gem.
It was beautifully formed with a very hard shell - a little on the small side, but not bad for the very first egg! You can read all about this exciting news and view pictures of the egg when cracked on our blog.

 

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