Chickens + Coop

Did ya miss me? Last week I had to abandon my blog, because I was overwhelmed with the logistics of shipping out an order of over 500 pounds of notebooks and jotters! I’ll share more details about that later this fall. Now I’m back to blogging with a backyard chicken update.

My parents and I finished up the coop back in June, and I think it coordinates with the house perfectly. Here you can see the coop door peeking through the carport. I planted a climbing hydrangea to the right of the door. Hopefully in a few years it will fill out nicely!

backyard chickens

We built an open-air coop and run combo, because it doesn’t get very cold here in the winter, but it is hot and humid in the summer. My mom took photos while we built the coop, and my dad wrote a detailed description of how we built it here on his website. Check it out if you’re thinking of building one, or if you want to see more detailed photos of my coop.

I’ve been a chicken keeper for almost three months now, and so far caring for them has been enjoyable and easy. I’ll have to post an update after a year or so to let you know if my opinion has changed at all.

backyard chickens

Here are Margo, Roberta, and Millie at 2 weeks old when I first took them out to see their coop. They were terrified of the ground and wouldn’t get off my hand. The girls lived in our bathtub under a heat lamp until they were about 7 weeks old. At that point they had most of their feathers, so they could stay warm enough outside on their own. Sometimes we still miss our bathroom entertainment.

backyard chickens

It’s crazy how much the chicks changed in just a few months. Here’s Margo at 2 weeks old—barely a handful.

backyard chickens

Now at almost 3 months old she’s two handfuls!

backyard chickens

I sing a little chicken song I made up (to the tune of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) when I go outside, and the chickens all run to the coop door to see me. I’m amazed by each bird’s distinct personality. They even have different food preferences.

Roberta (a Barnevelder) is the most independent of my three hens. She’d rather be finding bugs than hanging around to see what the human is up to, but if I bring fruit she’ll be my best friend. She’s a great flier compared to the other two. The first few weeks living in the coop she was afraid of the dark, and if I went out to there at dusk she would fly up onto my shoulder, burrow into my hair, and try to sleep there for the night. Getting a sleeping chicken untangled from your hair is just as hard as you’d think!

backyard chickens

Margo (a Speckled Sussex) would follow me around the yard like a dog if I’d let her. She’s my right hand bird, and she has been the most inquisitive since she hatched. She’s always hungry, so to her I’m just a big treat dispenser, but I’ll take it. She has terrible aim with her pecking, so I really have to watch myself when I hand her something delicious to munch. Once she gets a beakful of my skin in her mouth, she’ll pull on it for a while before figuring out she missed the worm. Ouch.

backyard chickens

I can always find Margo, because her favorite spot to stand is right on top of my foot. You know, just so she doesn’t miss out on any tasty morsels. If I don’t offer her anything edible after a while, she will happily attempt to eat my pants, shirt, or whatever else she can reach. It’s unsettling when you squat down to reach something and feel a pointy chicken beak exploring your butt crack!

backyard chickens

Millie (a Blue Orpington) loves digging holes. Sometimes she digs them so deep that I can’t even see her, I can only see dirt shooting through the air as she kicks it up behind her. Millie has the most luxurious, fluffy feathers. She feels (and looks) like a cloud. She was a snuggler when the girls were living inside. Once I took the lid off the brooder and asked, “Who wants to cuddle me?” Millie clumsily flew out, landed in my lap, puffed up her feathers, and went to sleep. Now she’s less interested in being loved on, but she’s the first to jump up onto my knee if I sit down with a jar of mealworms.

backyard chickens

Watching the chickens interact is hilarious. I just have to throw a big juicy slug to them, and they will run around for an hour squawking and stealing it from one another. Even in the quieter moments it’s obvious how much they enjoy each other’s company. I definitely wouldn’t call them intelligent, but there’s a lot more going on in those little bird brains than I thought there would be.

backyard chickens

After getting to know these birds I can hardly bring myself to eat chicken anymore. I may give it up entirely. Eggs are another story! I can’t wait to compare store-bought eggs to freshly-laid-in-my-backyard eggs. My chickens should be old enough lay in another 3 months or so, but they may not start until spring. Even if they never lay a single egg I’ll be happy. They’ve been great pets.

25 comments

  1. rachael

    Love your posts – you do things you love and do them well! Your father did a beautiful job and your birds are just adorable ;) enjoy them! loved the update!

  2. Maya

    I love the coop; I love the chickens. We had chickens for a while several years ago, and they definitely have more personality than you’d expect! I loved having them. :)

    How do you feel about snakes? A friend of mine with a chicken coop found a pretty big rat snake there just the other day, waiting in the nesting area for his breakfast eggs. Not sure how to snake-proof a coop, though.

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Snakes don’t freak me out at all, which is a good thing because we have tons in our yard! We thoroughly wired in the coop, so the biggest opening is .5″ x .5″. I figure only small snakes could slip in. I’ve heard chickens will eat little snakes so hopefully they’ll be okay!

  3. Julie

    I love that you have a chicken song! When I walk into my house I sing out “Fluffer Bunnies!” and all my cats come running to greet me. It is so great to see how those tiny adorable ballerina chicks have grown into such lovely ladies, and I love their different personalities!

  4. Amy Lynn

    Beautiful chickens! My mother-in-law is very into her chickens as well, they’re her little pets and she loves them! :) She likes to get different varieties too.

    And if it makes you feel any better, butchering chickens and layer hens are nothing alike! Both my parents and in-laws have raised them to butcher, and they are really not too bright, or pretty, at all. And no personality. It’s almost like they aren’t even the same animal! But, I am an avid chicken eater lol so do with that what you will :)

  5. Deanna

    I love hearing about your chickens! Being a chicken-keeper is something I plan on doing one day, alas I live in an apartment right now so I like living vicariously through your posts. Keep the fun chicken posts coming!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I’ve heard tales of people putting diapers on chickens and keeping them inside. ;)

  6. Riley

    You’re really making me want chickens! I love the variety in your little trio, and your Dad’s post was so sweet and encouraging. I’ve been making plans to build a greenhouse out of old windows that have been sitting around for awhile, and now I may have to come up with designs for an attached coop. :)

  7. anna

    Love your chickens! And I always miss when you post, I always love your pictures and thoughts. Awesome order!! Can’t wait to hear more about it. :)

  8. April

    Oh my goodness, they are so precious! I love your descriptions for each of them, pets are really amazing and just fill your life up with such joy. I hope you keep us posted on them! :3

  9. Stephanie

    Thanks for this beautiful post! We are thinking moving in our own house next year and now i’m thinking about having chicks! I didn’t knew they had so much personality and like to cuddle, but I just don’t know much about chickens ;) Hope to read and see more of the lades!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      backyardchickens.com and the-chicken-chick.com are great resources for learning about chickens and figuring out if they’d be a good fit for you! I’d say as long as you’re not squeamish about poop, go for it. ;)

  10. Myrte

    They look adorable, Amanda! Lovely choice on the different breeds.
    At home we had two Booted bantams (very cute, very small, delicious little eggs, extremely cuddly) and an Amrock (strong breed, lays eggs through winter, beautiful yellow legs), and now we have an Ameraucana (with the blue-green eggs), a Modern game (we compare her to a wine glass with her elegant long legs) and a mixed breed (with lush, black, oily feathers, broody quite often). We have a store-bought coop which we are happy with for the time being, but I expect we will be using you father’s tutorial in the near future! Thanks for sharing :)
    Looking forward to your next update!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Sounds like a beautiful flock! Ameraucanas are definitely on my future chicken wish list. There are so many I’d like to have! I can see how people become chicken collectors and things get out of control, haha.

  11. Shauna

    I love this post! I found myself engaged in your whole story! I would love to see some more photos of the coop. I really like the look of the door. Some day I would like to have my own chickens but for now we settle to buying farm fresh eggs from a local farmer. I’ll be back! I’m now following! Take care!

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