The Chicken Chronicles - Chapter Six

Our flock included seven French Black Copper Maren hens and one rooster a.k.a Fabio. Isn’t he gorgeous! You will notice that this picture was taken from this side of the fence. Fabio protected his hens and chicken yard with vicious spurs and flapping wings. Greg had the bruises on his arms and legs to prove it. If you are a careful reader you will notice my use of the past tense when I speak of Fabio. We decided that we should not have to live in fear of blood letting every time we collected eggs or fed and watered the hens so – – needless to say – – we now have several jars of Fabiolicious chicken broth on our pantry shelf. On a small farm everyone must get along, there is no room for a bully.

This week I want to share some less obvious improvements to the coop. This list includes things that make life more comfortable for the hens and more convenient for us.

This picture shows the floor of the coop area outside the chicken quarters. Greg put plywood down on top of the old barn flooring to keep the wind from whistling through the cracks in the barn flooring. The barn flooring where the the chickens live has a layer of heavy cardboard topped with inexpensive linoleum. The linoleum is easy to clean and the double layer or cardboard and linoleum keeps the coop snug during our Ohio winters.

This “outer” room was a definite part of our planned coop and is used to store straw for bedding, a broom and shovel for housekeeping, and a rodent-proof trash can for food storage. We also store our electric brooder and extra equipment such as feeders, waterers along the back wall. Everything is “at hand” and organized.

I often see pictures of chicken coops that have been decorated with chandeliers, rocking chairs, and other pretty things. Do the owners of these coops realize the HUGE amounts of dust chickens manufacture in their daily scratchings? We could easily write our names in the 1/4 inch dust that inevitably settles over everything in the coop.

coop outer room2


Here is a better picture of the outer room – notice the dust on the lid of the garbage can. To the immediate left is the door to the back room and if you back out of the picture the door to the front room is just to the front left. I still cannot believe how well everything fell into place.

coop plug cover
Greg brought electricity to the coop by trenching an underground line from his workshop. The coop now has it’s own breaker box for safety. Plugs in both room make it possible for us to turn on our brooder, add a water heater to keep drinking water unfrozen in cold weather, or add extra heat if necessary. Notice that we have covered the unused plug with protection against inevitable dust. Each room, front, back, and inner entrance, has it’s own bulb for light. The bulb in the front room is connected to a plug-in timer that switches on in the early a.m. during the short days of winter. By keeping the coop lighted for 15 to 16 hours the chickens continue to lay.

coop water heater

This waterer is ready for winter. It is sitting on top of a heater that has a thermostat. When the temperature drops enough for the water to freeze the heater turns on. This simple piece of equipment makes our life so much easier. We never have to deal with frozen water and the chickens are never without a drink. Electricity in the coop is fabulous! The hens can really make their bedding fly when they scratch so the heater and waterer are raised up off the floor to keep straw out of the water.

IMG_0005Happy news! One of our hens went “broody”. We found her sitting on her eggs, unmovable for days and days. Maternal instinct is so strong, she did not care that, without Fabio, her eggs were infertile and would never hatch. We ended up removing her infertile eggs and replacing them with fertile eggs from Meyer’s Hatchery in nearby Polk. She sat and sat and look what we have! She hatched seven healthy chicks. As soon as the eggs hatched we snuck in under cover of darkness and moved her and her Barred Rock babies to private quarters in the back room. We will keep Mother and babies inside for a while and then open their hatch and watch them discover the outside world. We still cannot figure out how many will be laying hens and how many will be roosters. Only time will tell.

IMG_0028Here is our proud mama and her flock in their private room. She is parading around showing them how to scratch. The cheeps of the babies mix with the sounds of the mature hens and fill our coop with life and I know for certain that, finally, our coop is a real home.

I love to sit in the coop and listen to the sounds: scratching, squawking, clucking, bucacking, cackling, peeping, cheeping, flapping, and on and on. For some odd reason any time spent in the coop relaxes me. I love my chickens!

Until next week . . . .

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin

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3 comments to The Chicken Chronicles – Chapter Six

  • Tomma


    Hi there. I was searching for some info about Fennel and thought I’d check your website again. I love this article you wrote about the chickens and the name of that chicken broth ! that is hysterical.

    Hope you are well.

  • I have grown bronze fennel – basically an ornamental – and found it to be a bully in the garden. This summer I am growing florence fennel in the vegetable garden. I will mound soil around the base of the plant to keep it tender. I will cut off the blooms to help the stems and bulb fatten up.
    I am also looking for ways to use the bulb. Any ideas?
    See you this spring at the plant swap! Farm and Home Jardware will be hosting. I will have the final date very soon.

  • Tomma

    I was hoping you had some ideas about using the bulbs, I’m thinking of that Savory Fall Stew – I think I sent you the recipe. It calls for a fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Do you suppose a person could freeze fennel ?

    Stay warm,

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