Yes, that's right. Chickens. My girls and I decided to get five baby chicks this spring. Full disclosure (for all of you parents out there): I mistakenly challenged Clara, my 9-year-old, to clean her room and save her money for a pet, thinking she would never do either, based on our previous dealings. Little did I know how motivated she really was, and it utterly backfired on me. So now we have chickens.
Look at these little fluffy cuties! Can you blame us for falling in love?
Do you know how fast chicks grow into actual chickens? The answer is, FAST! Since we brought our fluffy babies home in early March, we have been racing against the clock to build them a home in our backyard. They were quickly outgrowing their once huge bin, and keeping them entertained and happy was becoming tricky. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I got on the poultry train. Thankfully, my friend Andy, (who happens to love wood-working projects,) offered to help out. I'm pretty sure he didn't know what HE was getting into, either! From April through mid-June or so, he and I worked on the Chic Hut on the weekends. Yes, so I went a little overboard on this one. And because Andy has a strict code about building solid things with lots of glue and screws, I'm fairly certain a tornado would have little effect on this coop!
We started with a pic of a three foot by 8 foot chicken coop from the internet that I liked, changed up the design to 4x8, including a storage compartment, and, equipped with plenty of good advice on coops from chicken blogs, we were off. The girls and I made a concrete stoop for the babies, so they would surely see how much we love them every time they step out of their house!
After about a month and a half of building, the chickens moved out to their new home, because frankly, they barely had any room to get around in their cramped bin. I could feel their irritation building, (thank you, empathy), despite our frequent visits and outings outside with them, so this couldn't happen fast enough. They still didn't have an enclosed chicken run, but they now had a 4x8 doubly-fenced "porch" below the coop where they could move more freely outside, (sort-of). There are two layers of hardware cloth welded fencing enclosing this porch on all sides, and a layer that covers the bottom, stitched to the sides and buried under 6 inches of dirt, anchored with concrete around the bottom corners... just in case anything was really determined to get in there. (This is why we call it Fort Knox!) The birds seemed happy with this compared to their previous living quarters, and their joy was palpable.
It is now early July, and I am still working on the chicken run. I made a huge, heavy door and fenced in the space, burying the hardware cloth fencing down into the earth surrounding the perimeter to keep digging predators away from our babies. The task now is to hang the massive gate on some sturdy hinges, and build a frame for the top, which will also be enclosed in hardware cloth. I realize this may be overkill, but the thought of losing one of our very adored chickens to a hawk or fox breaks my heart. We are all way too attached to our peeps.
Honestly, this project seems never-ending, but it's finally getting there. Once the run is fenced in completely and painting is done, I will be putting in some very resilient plants and mulch for our birds to peck at and scratch around in. I can't wait until that day! One thing is certain: our birds will be safe and sound, and I can move on to the next big project without worrying if they are happy and secure! I've learned so much about building from Andy. (Thank you again, sir, for your patience, presence and knowledge!)
With all of this building, it's been tricky getting into the art room. So of course my art brain has been working overtime trying to think of how to add more creativity into this project. Because you might say I've become a little crazy over our chickens and their living quarters, I've decided to build a lamppost to put out near their yard for our evening visits to see the birds. Yes, I'm making it out of concrete, and yes, of course, it's a chicken lamp. It will feature all five of our birds stacked on top of each other, reaching likely five to six feet in height, and I intend to wire it into our electricity so we can flip it on with a switch. Here's a sneak-peak of it so far.
This is in the beginning stages as it is dang hot to work with concrete in my garage right now. And it is getting to the point where I will likely have to place it out in the yard in it's destination location to continue working on it due to the weight that is steadily increasing with each piece I add to it! Stay tuned for more pics coming soon!
I know what you're thinking...we could be obsessed. But who knew how fun having chickens would be?! (All of you chicken people out there get it, right?) They are crazy, funny and lovable little creatures, and they fit right into our crazy family. Everyone seems content, and Clara finally got her pet(s) that she wanted so badly. I guess we can thank her for cleaning her room and getting this whole thing started!