The Secret Chicken

stories of a secret chicken

Chicken Housing Project


I’m having feelings of inadequacy and guilt over the shoddy home I’ve made for my chickens. At the moment, it’s made up of a large pet barn-style dog house, a few pallets and a dog exercise yard. The chickens get to roam free as long as I’m at home, but I have to contemplate the fact that at some point, I will have to get a job and won’t be home during the days. Shocking, but true.

Today I decided to figure something out for them. I went to my main resource for chicken things, Backyard Chickens. I went to their coop pages. I got more depressed. I googled coops. I found lots – spendy things. I also found things like the Chicken Chapel. I got more depressed.

In the end, what I think I’ll do is this: I brought home a wooden frame that had originally shipped metal pipes in to the place I worked. At the time, I thought, “perfect potting bench!”. Which it was, for the remainder of the year. Then I got Oddball, and it turned into his temporary outside home. Of course, he outgrew it eventually and now it sits vacant. I potted what I needed to pot, it’s time to move on.


In order to turn this framework into a functional chicken house, here is what I intend to do:
Use chicken net to enclose the bottom half. Front will have a framed section, hinged to allow cleaning access. One side will be arranged in a way to allow the pet barn to be securely attached and remain the sleeping quarters.
Plywood over the back side of the top. Sides will be wire net. The diagonal will be made of that corrugated fiberglass roofing stuff, with hinges on top to allow for opening. The “attic” space there will then be the nesting area.
Permanently attach the wheels. Just seems like a good idea.

Shouldn’t be too hard, just a matter of getting the materials together. Some of it I already have, like the chicken wire and most of the attaching things (nails & staples, that sort of thing).

Materials list:
Framed door: 2x 40.5″, 2x 36″ 1×1 or similar
Main floor: 22″ x 47″ weldwire (small mesh)
Attic back: 17.5″ x 48″ plywood or similar
Attic front: 33″ x 48″ corrugated fiberglass panel
Attic floor: 22″ x 36″ plywood or similar
4 hinges
4 hook & eyes

Check back in a few weeks…see if I just had a wild hair that didn’t last.

Oddball, the oddball.


In case you weren’t aware, 9pm is bedtime for the ladies in the yard, as well as for Dustbunny and Oddball (see previous post).

I thought that the other night was a fluke, that Oddball hopped the fence because Dustbunny hopped the fence. That was an incorrect assumption, it seems.

Yesterday I spent the bulk of my afternoon/evening playing doula to a cat as she popped out 8 babies. At 9:07, I heard my roommate calling from the living room – “Oddball’s ready for bed”. I thought he’d come in from having a smoke and noticed Oddball at the fence, where he normally waits for me to put him to bed. But no, once again, he was in the kitchen. The roommate distracted the dogs enough to keep Oddball from freaking out (he doesn’t mind the dogs, as long as they aren’t actively chasing him).

I went to put Oddball to bed. At the moment, his accommodations are spare – a large Rubbermaid-type tote with some weld-wire over the top and some fluffy bedding stuff to keep him comfy. Today, he wasn’t interested in going in the tote. He wanted to stay with me. How sweet. He expressed this feeling by jumping back through the gap as I was trying to close the wire down. He landed somewhat off the mark – instead of my shoulder, he landed in my shirt. I now have a fun and frisky set of scratch marks down my front, and another on my face from him trying to climb back out.

I did get him back in, and once inside with the light off, he went right to sleep. Typical of many children, I think.

Do I need to start wearing turtlenecks? They make my face look fat!

Oh – and as a side note:

And the award goes to…


Toaster, Wrangler of Dustbunnies

Toaster, Wrangler of Dustbunnies

Toaster. You may remember how Minki saved the day (or rather, the barred rock) the other night. Tonight, a great tag-team play by Oddball and Toaster saved the Dustbunny.

Bedtime for the animals is 9pm. On the nose – do not be late. Apparently. Because at 9:13, a flash of white caught my eye and there, standing in the kitchen, was Oddball. Fine, I took the hint. I put him to bed and went out to get the ladies and bunny put away for the night.

Of course, the ladies are already tucked in, they are pretty good about that, but Bunbun was nowhere to be seen. So much for “rabbit proof” fencing…

So of course we start the hunt, the usual areas: fenceline, hedge between our house and the neighbor, start working our way down the block, checking under cars as we go. The kiddo sees an orange flash…Toaster. She almost dismisses it as just Toaster being a dork (he’s good at that), but takes a longer look and sees what he’s chasing.


So, I will be putting up an add tomorrow:

Needed: one bunk bed set, suitable for one Oddball chicken and one Dustbunny who’s decided he doesn’t care for his outside cage any longer.


Summertime Rolls


As a result of an unexpected canning from my job, I’ve had plenty of time to spend with the girls. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much motivation. I have come to the conclusion that I will be needing to have a sturdier, draft-free environment for them before the rains come, but I can’t see myself getting very far on building something myself.

My dearest wish: An Eglu Cube.

The Cube.

The Cube.

Sigh. Someday…but in the meantime, I’m on the lookout for an economical but NOT crappy hen-house.

First night with the new ladies


We live in town. In front of our house is a nice, quiet neighborhood and a park, but in the back, it’s a busy 4-lane road. There is a fence there, it’s probably 7ft high. It’s a nice fence, the landlord put it in shortly before we moved in. On the other side of the fence, some overgrown apple trees and a shitload of blackberry bushes.

Yesterday was our first day with the new girls. They did pretty well all day, and a little before 9pm (regular bedtime for the outside animals) I went out to check them out. The ladies were working their way towards their enclosure, and I noticed that the Sussex was on top of the enclosure.

Now, this enclosure is made of fence on one side and dog exercise panel on the outside, topped with bird netting. My chickens have never shown interest in going up there, because the wire is too narrow to be stable, and the bird netting is floppy.

But there she was. I walked over and took her down, then started looking for the Barred Rock. Nowhere to be seen. I looked all over – in front of the house, in the garden, nope.

So, given the location of her friend, I assumed she was over the fence. We looked, but a speckled chicken in the bushes in the dark…

This morning, I got up and took Oddball outside, let the bunny out, let the ladies out, and stood on the chair to see if I could see the chicken in the brush. Nope.

A couple hours later, I noticed Minki kitty paying inordinate attention to a particular section of fence. On a hunch, I grabbed the chair again and looked over…and there she was. Stupid chicken.

The next hour was spent scrambling through the brier patch trying to snag the damn chicken and put her in a cat carrier. Understand – to get to the other side of that fence, it’s a 2-block walk. There is no gate. So with my roommate on the inside with a rake, and myself on the outside with the carrier, we finally gave up. Roommate finally came around and we just cornered her behind the apple tree. Very traumatic.

I had some enforced bonding time with the new ladies.
As soon as we got back to the yard, the new ladies got their summer haircuts.

Our Hero, Minki

Our Hero, Minki

Meet the ladies.


These are the two new ones- she did bring a Sussex and a barred rock.
I let the “old” ladies out of the pen, and put the new ones in, for now. Then I let the bunny out to play. First thing bunny does is run to the chicken pen – he loves to chase the chickens. But…he was expecting his usual chickens. Instead, I heard the clucky uproar and the bunny came tearing back out. He ran straight to me and put his hand on my leg, like, “dude, what the hell????”

Hah, love my animals. Oddball is trying to charm the new ladies already, the turken has already challenged them (and ducked back when they didn’t back down). The “old” chickens stay at the other end of the yard, until I go out, then they run back as if to say, “did you see what is in our pen?” or maybe, “of course we’re not hiding from the new chickens. That would be silly”.

I guess the real test will come tonight, around 9pm. That’s when the ladies retire to their boudoir. Then they will have to come to an arrangement – do the new chickens get to bunk with them, or fend for themselves in the cold, cold night?

Ahh, the drama!

So long, silkie twins.


The silkies are gone, got picked up today. I’ll have replacement chickens coming probably Tuesday morning. She says probably a speckled sussex and a barred rock.

Barred rock

speckled sussex

it’ll be interesting to see how they blend in with the ones I’ve already got. Henery (the hawkish looking acracauna) hopped out of the fenced in area today, and when I picked her up to put her back in, she settled down in my arms and just sat for a while. I’m thinking the new ones won’t be doing that…

I’m posting to the chicken forum…hoping to get some guidance as to how to best integrate the new ladies into the flock.

..speaking of chickens…


So I already had one boy-chicken, but can’t get rid of him because he’s oddball. He started off with a spectacular crowing at 5:15am. Quite an accomplishment for a genetic sport whose breed we can’t even identify. He now sleeps in the house, and is taken outside in the morning at a more respectable hour.

This morning I was sleeping peacefully and heard a weird noise, like a raven giving projective vomiting. erERRRRR. Didn’t think much of it, there are birds all over and the crows love sitting outside my window on the wire cawing first thing.

But then I heard it again. And again. Crap. Looked out the window. There was silkie, stretching his neck out like he was begging for the chopping block.

So I’ll be losing 2 chickens soon. I don’t think it would be nice to get rid of just one, so both silkies will be going together. A friend with a larger farm space will take them, she’s been coveting the silkies anyway. They won’t be as spoiled there, she’s already got about 30 chickens, but they will be well taken care of. And he won’t be eaten (not that bantams are big enough to eat anyway), he’ll be purely ornamental. Coop eye-candy.
silkie boy

You can do this:


Or this: