Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Spring Chickens: Part II

My Spring List

Welcome to Part II of my Spring Chicken Keeping Post! If you didn't read Part I you can click here.

I've got a pretty good understanding of the chicken keeping basics. It's been less than a year and I've figured out a lot. My goal for this spring is to make my chicken's lives even better.  I was thrilled to be able to finally  put the girls outside yesterday. When I left in the morning they hadn't worked up the nerve to venture out yet but when I arrived home all twelve of them were happily enjoying the "warm" weather (is 8 degrees Celsius really considered warm this year?) and sunshine. 

A Couple of our Girls Hanging Out
Now that spring is almost  here I want to make some changes and upgrades to our coop.

Dust Bath Upgrade: Chickens love to take dust baths and it's great for them! Our outdoor area is a dusty space which we filled with mulch from trees we cut down on our property last spring before the chickens arrived. I spent an entire day "prepping" their outdoor space.  Last summer, the hens made their own dust bath spots in the ground. This year, I would like to make a special dust bath for them. I have decided to fill my dust bath with sand. There are many options for what to fill the tub with and a simple google search will show you there are strong opinions about it. You will often hear about using food grade diatomaceous earth (DE). I have decided to avoid DE for now since it's recommended that people wear masks when dealing with DE I can't see how it's okay for the hen's respiratory systems, either.If anyone has any information on this I'd love your input! :)
Up-cycled Dog Bed becomes a Dust Bath
Source: Inside the Chicken Coop

This is the type of basin I want to use!
Source: Little Farm in the Big City
A Ladder: Although my hens have tons of roosting spots there is something so cute about chickens hanging out on a ladder! It would provide them with more roosting spots and  some great photo ops. I have always wanted an outdoor ladder but since we haven't enclosed the top of our coop it might act as an easy escape route. For now, an interior ladder is on my spring list.

Source: Pinterest
An Exterior Light: Whether it's a solar light or actually hooked up to electricity it would be nice to have a light source at the coop. Our coop is closer to the back of our yard and it gets a little dark on my walk down sometimes. I always get the girls in before dark in the summer however in the winter it would have been really nice (luxurious, even) to have some light down at the coop!  I love the two luxury coops pictured below and the hanging lights are perfect!

Source: Urban Garden
Source: The Art of Doing Stuff

Improve the Exterior: For "Year One" the outdoor yard and interior coop were the priorities. Installing the run, electricity and water went way over our original concept of what keeping chickens would cost us. This year I can have a little more fun with the exterior and decor. First thing I want to do is power wash the exterior and paint it. There are brackets for hanging baskets and I'd love to get some flowers outside this year. There are "flower beds" on the front and side of the coop that were a hot mess of bushes and weeds last year. I'd also love to order a cute sign off of Etsy for the coop.

I love the black hardware on the chicken coop below! I also love the rustic charm of the second pictured coop. Maybe I can add some rustic touches to mine.. the shutters and hanging star are super cool and trendy.

Source: Tracy Porter
Have you noticed that when you search Chicken Coop on Pinterest every coop is a glamorous, impeccably clean mini-mansion? If i've learned one thing about chickens this year it's that they are dirty. They poop everywhere. I don't understand how people let them in their houses? They look adorable but where is all of the chicken poop? Probably just outside of the photograph. As much as I want to make improvements I want them to benefit the chickens more than me. They don't care about gallery walls or couches in their coop; they like being outside and pecking at bugs. I'll try not to forget that as I get caught up in pictures of luxury coops that belong in the Hamptons. :) If you want to see some of these over-the-top coops check out my Chicken Keeping board on Pinterest! I pin everything from chandeliers to coops with seating. Oh, I also pin informative and helpful chicken related articles too.

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