Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chicken Coop for the Soul

It's official. After four years of living in Austin, we are now Austin hipsters (not East Austin), but close enough. Our yards are xeriscaped, I have a garden in the backyard, Micah brews (hobby prior to moving to Austin) and now we have a chicken coop!

I'm not even joking, a chicken coop -- sans chicken. 

We weren't planning on getting chickens, but this red beauty came into our life a few weeks ago.

Let me tell you how this all came about. On the Saturday before Easter, Micah's parents came to Austin for the weekend. Since his parents own several chickens, I figured it would be fun to go to the Funky Chicken Coop Tour (Yes, Austin has funky chicken coop tours, it's that kind of city). I bought 4 tickets online and off we went! The tour is actually really fun and informative. There were some homes that had a huge space for their chickens... and even turkeys and ducks!

At the end of the day, we were sitting at Meridian Hive Meadery tasting some meads when someone from the tour called my cellphone. I thought we had left something behind at one of the homes. The lady asked for Clyde (Micah's dad) and while he was speaking to her we realized we had won something.

What we didn't really grasp was that it was the GRAND PRIZE! I didn't even realize that when you bought tickets online, you're automatically entered into a raffle for various prizes. Apparently we won the grand prize! The grand prize was this red chicken coop.

They asked if they could deliver that evening. I looked at Micah and he wasn't amused. We made room for it in the driveway that night. 

Specs on the coop: 5' x 6', fiberglass composite construction, gelcoat surface, sliding windows, rear ventilation screens, built-in nesting boxes, chicken door and the lovely bright red paint! It really is well constructed. These types of coops are usually priced at $1,500! Crazy!

Inside the coop. It's a mansion!

The coop holds six chickens comfortably. Look at all these nesting boxes! 

You can tell by this photo that Micah is beyond thrilled this was sitting in our driveway. While we weren't 100 percent sure we were going to keep it, I wanted to sleep on it and see what to do with it. I offered it to Micah's parents but they already have a chicken coop so being their lovely selves, they told us to keep it! "It's a sign!" they said. A sign from the fresh egg gods.

After sleeping on it and talking it through, we decided to keep it. Micah and his dad took down a part of the back fence and we rolled it into the backyard.

After looking at various locations in the backyard, we decided on this spot. It's an area where the grass doesn't grow that well and we can cordon it off without too much effort. A lot of friends were worried this coop would take away the space for our slip-n-slide party, it doesn't. Calm down, friends.
To give the chickens good walking space, we put down a metal border and put down some rubber mulch. We also put in pavers set in concrete for a firm footing. 

Because we can't let the chickens have free range of the backyard, we had to find a way to fence it off. After spending $150 at Home Depot for fencing items, we came up with this plan.

Without much help from me, Micah put up the metal posts and built the gate frame! It's that engineering mind! I'm glad he's able to do that stuff, because I know I'm no good at that.

This gate will keep the chickens in and the doggies out. There's a latch on it so I can get in and clean out the area if need be.

View of the gated area from the terrace. I thought it wasn't going to be enough space for the chickens, but really is a large space. For a cover, we're going to use a bird netting to drape and secure over the top. Hopefully that'll keep out any other rascals.

And by rascal, I mean T-Rex. He wants chickens.

Not only does T-Rex wants chickens, so does our big dog, Porter. This video is of Porter running around the chicken coop at Micah's parents house.

Porter nearly lost his snout! The chickens didn't take it easy on him when he put his snout against the fencing. Hopefully he's learned his lesson and won't do that to our chickens.

Now that we have a chicken coop, the biggest decision is deciding which chickens I should get. There are several types out there. I think we're going to start with two chickens and go from there.

So a question for the folks who have chickens, what type should I get and why?

Other Chicken Thoughts

If you think it's cheaper to have chickens lay your fresh eggs, it's not. It's still cheaper to go to the grocery store. But, we will have a sustainable program going on because chickens love spent grain -- so when Micah brews, the chickens will have delicious spent grain to nibble on. We're living that sustainable life.

People also think farm fresh eggs taste better than caged, mass-produced eggs, but Serious Eats put that to the test and determined most people can't tell the difference when it comes to taste. But if eating "organic and free range" eggs make you feel better, than have at it!  I really just like the idea of colorful eggs and being able to go to my backyard for eggs!