How to Build a Chicken Coop….Ineptly

Step 1:  Go on Pinterest

Wow, look at that!  Look at all those really cool Do-It-Yourself projects!  You mean all you have to do is take an old desk/ pallet/ bookcase/ toilet paper roll/ etc and add a few nails and pieces of scrap wood, and you can renovate it into a beautiful new chicken coop?

Really?

Wow, that looks easy!  You can do that, too!

Huh?  What’s that?  What kind of design do you want your chicken coop to have you’re done?

Eh, you’ll figure it out later, when you get to that point.

Step 2:  Find something old, left behind by the old house owner.

PERFECT.

This is going to be the raddest chicken coop ever.

Step 3:  Slowly and carefully move chicken-coop-in-the-making to the construction area.

Step 4: After several minutes of straining, realize it’s too heavy to lift on your own, and that you will have to wait for the husband to come home and help you move it.

Step 5:  Sulk for a few minutes about the fact that you were born a female, and that instead of having broad shoulders and big biceps that can lift heavy things, you have wide hips, a big butt, and the ability to experience “morning” sickness.  Yes, Mother Nature.  That’s just SO much better.

Step 6:  Get angry.  Decide to move it anyways.  Carefully maneuver desk-coop-thingie end-over-end down a rocky slope into the backyard.  Arrive at the bottom without a single mishap.  Cheer inwardly.  Perhaps cheer outwardly, too.

Step 7:  Heave desk-coop-thingie over the four foot chain link fence (the gate is too far away to reach) through sheer will power, making grunting and straining very feminine and sexy noises. 

Step 8:  Watch in horror as the last teensy tip of the desk catches on the top of the fence, wrenches sideways out of your grasp, and falls the last two feet, breaking in several places.

Step 9:  Teach your three-year-old and one-year-old several new and very passionate vocabulary words that are not Sesame Street approved.

Step 10:  Get to work.

Take lots of photos of your progress, so you can do a blog post later on about how totally awesome and capable you are.

Pop Quiz:  What’s more difficult than trying to build something with no plans, no previous carpentry experience, no real materials, and no actual mechanical abilities? 

Answer:  Trying to do all of the above with children.

Nails and hammers and saws really aren’t a good mix with toddlers and preschoolers.  The DragonMonkey and Squid are hard enough to keep alive on a normal basis.  Trying to chase after them while simultaneously “building” a chicken coop nearly drove me crazy.

Still, I wanted chickens, and to get chickens I needed a coop, so there was no turning back.

I nailed.  I stapled.  I sawed. I screwed things in.

I looked at my “chicken coop” and sighed.

I unscrewed things.  I unnailed things.  I plucked out staples, and started all over again, when things weren’t working well.

Rinse, repeat.

Rinse, repeat.

After three days (yes, three), this is what I had:

Yeah. 

I know.

At that point I did what every mature, modern, and independent woman does:

I threw in the towel and called Santa.

Santa, otherwise known as my stepdad (he really does have a thriving career as a real-bearded Santa), is to wood what J.R.R. Tolkien is to fantasy writing. 

The original plan was that I would be the one building it,  and he would teach me.

It worked like that at first – he explained, I understood and nodded, and together we worked on it, while my mom made it possible by watching the boys.

It was a nice theory, but as things grew more complex, it turned into him saying a bunch of words, me nodding like I understood, and then blindly following his instructions.

I really don’t see professional carpentry in my immediate future.

Three building sessions later, I had this:

Yeah.

I know.

Pretty awesome, huh?

Even better, we build the thing entirely out of old pallets and wood that the previous owner left behind.  The only money we spent was on some extra screws and a couple of 2 x 4s we used to brace the roof.

When it’s time for the chickens to go to sleep, the ramp comes off, and the door comes down, and it locks up safe and secure.

When it comes time to clean it out, the whole front opens up, making the process nice and easy.

The back also has a neat little flap:
Which can open up to make egg-collecting easy:
Yes, I know our nesting boxes need sides and a little top, but one thing at a time.
You know what comes next, right?
Oh, yeah.
Can you feel my excitement all the way over there?
GUESS WHAT I HAVE IN MY BACKYARD, RIGHT NOW?
 CHICKENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


ATTENTION INTERNET, I HAVE CHICKENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I know I said that when it came time to get chickens I would get a Silkie, but unfortunately, our city says we can only have three chickens.  When push came to shove, we decided to have eggs over coolness factor.  Plus, I was able to get these pullets all from the same person, so I know they will get along.  I wasn’t sure how introducing a Silkie to two chickens that were raised together would work out, and I didn’t feel like dealing with chicken wars.

If/when something happens to one of these hens I plan on replacing her with a Silkie….I still really want one.
Anyways, regarding breeds we chose a Buff Orpington as one of the hens, mostly so she could become a pet – Buff Orpingtons (the peach-colored chicken below) are only average egg layers, but what they’re really known for is how friendly and laid-back they are.  

She’s only been here a day and she’s already letting me pet her.  Sweet.

The other two chickens are called “Golden Sex Link” – which, honestly, sounds like the punchline to some kind of really dirty innuendo to me.  


“Hey baby, 
how about you, me, and a little Golden Sex Link, hmmmm?”
What’s important to know about them is that they are red, fairly docile, and lay lots of eggs. 
Well, I mean, they will lay lots of eggs once they are mature.  These girls are only four months old.  They’re due to start laying any day, but not quite yet.
One of the Golden Sex Link (giggle) hens immediately named herself.  As soon as we plopped them out of the cat carrier and into the coop, she rushed to the back and began rearranging the straw we had in the nesting boxes, glancing back over her shoulder at me with an extremely judgy expression.

Her name is Martha Stewart.

The other two haven’t really named themselves yet (does anyone have any suggestions?)  The DragonMonkey is suggesting “Mommy” for the other Golden Sex Link (snicker), but I think I’m going to feel a little awkward standing in my backyard saying, “Heeeeere, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” for the whole world to hear.

I honestly think we should name her Evil Eyes.  I mean, nothing about that expression makes me want to reach out and get my fingers near that beak.  (You can see Martha Stewart in the background, still rearranging the straw.)
We put up some temporary wire so they’re not completely closed in with the coop.  I’m not going to make the same mistake twice – these chickens are NOT going to run away from home.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go eat the bacon The Bean has just finished cooking, and then I’m going outside to bond with my new chickens.
Today is a good day.

*******

Update:  MARTHA STEWART JUST LAID AN EGG.  
Dude.  
I have new pets, and my new pets just MADE SOMETHING FOR ME TO EAT.  It’s like adopting a dog from the pound, and finding out that on top of being potty trained,  it makes a nice casserole.  Chickens are the most awesome thing ever!
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Pop Quiz!

Question:  How long does it take to go to the bathroom, if you hurry?

Answer Choices:

     A.  One minute

     B.  Two minutes, thirty seconds

     C.  Twenty-five seconds

     D.  Too long, no matter how fast it is, and how many pee speed records you just broke

    I’ll give everyone a moment.

    Okay, pencils down.

    The correct answer, class, is D. 

    Definitely D.

    Strangely enough, nobody has taken me up on my offer of free children from my last post. 

    It’s a good deal, I swear.  They’re in decent enough health, have lots of years ahead of them, and would probably fetch a really good price on the black market. 

    Seriously, no takers? 

    Eww, Mama

    The coffee is working.

    Wait a second….

    No, no, let me rephrase that.

    The coffee is working right now.

    With a sigh, I heave my tired butt spring lightly and nimbly up from the couch, crawling out from underneath the pile of still-sleepy boys who are sprawled on my lap.

    The second I push them off of me, it begins.

    “MAMA!” whines Squidgelet, “MAMA, UP!”  He clings to my leg, making a fairly credible attempt to scurry up it like a squirrel. “Mama, UP!  Need help… pease…. haaaaalp….. halp me…….” He dissolves into a fit of fairly impressive tears when I shake him off and continue towards the bathroom.

    “Where are you going?  Mama?  You going somewhere?  What are you doing?”  The DragonMonkey trots along beside me, skinny legs flashing as he pivots and hops, throwing absurd amount of unnecessary energy and movement into the short walk to the bathroom.

    “I’m going to the bathroom, DragonMonkey.  Just give me two minutes.  I’ll be out in two minutes.”

    “You going to the bathroom?  The bathroom?  Can I go to?”

    “No.  I need privacy.”  I pause, reaching down to dislodge Squidgelet, who has managed to latch himself like a burr to my leg — a hysterical, screaming, separation-anxiety-laden burr. 

    “Can I go with you?”

    “No, DragonMonkey.  I just answered you.  Go watch TV.  Keep an eye on The Squid… I need two minutes.”

    “Ah,” says the DragonMonkey, with a satisfied little nod.  “I going with you.”

    “NO,” I snap, reaching down to pry The Squid’s fingers off of my pant leg again.  “You’re not.  Just go watch TV. I ‘ll be out in a minute.”  And with that, I slam the door in their faces.

    The Squid’s cries immediately ratchet up from “I’m being abandoned” to “someone has set my flesh on fire and I am melting”, and he flings himself against the door with a tiny thump.

    The DragonMonkey, not to be outdone, immediately begins pounding on the door.  “Mama, let me in!  I wanna go with you!  I wanna go with you!  Let me in!”  WHUMP.  WHUMP. WHUMPWHUMPWHUMPWHUMP.  “Let me in!

    Whose bright idea was it to teach the DragonMonkey how to knock on doors?

    WHUMPWHUMPWHUMP!  “Mama, please let me in!”  WHUMPWHUMPWHUMP! WHUMPWHUMPWHUMP! “Please, Mama!”

    The Squid continues his howling, and in the slight lulls between the DragonMonkey’s frantic bursts of knocking, I can hear the soft sound of his tiny toddler hands scrabbling at the door in his own desperate attempt to gain entry.

    I try to ignore them, but finally I snap, “Go away!  Just two minutes – give me two minutes!  Go watch tv!”

    Of course they don’t.  Why would they?  I’ve just given them proof that I really am still here, trapped behind this closed door.  No doubt I’m in the process of shoving all my toiletries into a bag and escaping out the window, never to return.  At the sound of my voice their efforts to reach me double until, suddenly, the bathroom door latch gives way beneath their weight.

    They spill onto the bathroom floor in a tangle of limbs and suddenly-halted tears and blink up at me in surprise.  I sigh.  As they separate themselves and slowly stand up, I bask for a moment in the silence.  Sure, the too-small bathroom now has three people in it and I’ve lost my privacy, but hey, at least it’s quiet.

    Until:

    “EWWW, Mama,”  says the DragonMonkey, pausing in his approach to wrinkle his nose.  “Smells bad.  Smells bad in here.  You going poo-poo?  EWWW!”

    “Ewwwww,” repeats the Squid, glancing over at his older brother to make sure he’s mimicking the sneer correctly.  “Ewwwww….”

    “Yes, I’m going to the bathroom.  If you’ll recall, I tried to do it in privacy, too.”

    The DragonMonkey looks at me in disgust, wrinkling his nose and shaking his head.  “Gross, Mama.  It smell gross in here.  You need close the door.”  He shakes his head again, disapproving, and suddenly I’m left feeling faintly guilty, as if I’ve disappointed him somehow.  “You need close the door,” he repeats.

    “Ewww,” echoes the Squid.

    They trail out of the bathroom in a solemn line, DragonMonkey pausing at the entrance for one final shake of his head and, “Ewww. You close the door, Mama.  You smell bad.  You smell vewwy bad,” before heading into the living room to watch TV.

    Children?

    Free children?

    Does anyone want any free children?

    Mouses Have Wee-Wees?

    I laughed so hard at this the DragonMonkey thought I was crying.

    Also, yes, I am still alive. Every time I sit down to finish up any one of my half-written posts or other stuff I am working on, I think about this:

    and I turn off the computer and head back outside with the kids.

    Who would have thought I’d be more tan in Oregon than I ever was in California?

    Anyways, sorry for the lack of updates and stories. Don’t worry – I’m still accruing them. I’ve discovered that, sadly, I’m just as socially inept in Oregon as I was in California. Oh well.

    I’ve been quiet because I’ve been busy…. and because I’ve been happy.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go make blackberry jam… from the blackberries I picked myself.

    Or, as the kids call them, Biebers. Fresh, homemade Bieber jam.

    Yum.

    If you are family, and you get one for Christmas, please act surprised.