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Coop Tour

Hen Herald Update
The Hen Herald wishes to apologize to its subscribers and hopes that it has not lost any readers due to the absence of issues.  We at the Hen Herald strive to give our readers the very best, but apparently our writers believed that the Hen Herald does not give its employees the very best and they were on strike for several months.  The Hen Herald has successfully negotiated with its writers and the strike has ended.   We will also be adding high quality guest writers to our excellent rag.

But enough about us. On with everything chicken.

Henny, Penny, and Sky
When we last left off, the girls had been banned from parts of the yard due to their attack on the spring bulbs.  As you might have guessed, spring has come and gone and the girls again have full run of the yard.  Except all the garden patches, and the blueberries, and the strawberries, and the delicate plants Andrea has planted.  Okay, so not full run of the yard.  They are still doing an excellent job of keeping the creeping crawlies from covering Denise and Andrea’s plants and in laying a supple of eggs for D & A.

Currently Penny and Henny are starting a molt and therefore are not laying eggs, Sky however is a trooper and lays an egg a day.  The girls produced so much this spring that there is a stash of eggs to cover Andrea and Denise through the dry spell during the molt.  Yellow and black feathers from the two girls are scattered around the yard and litter their run.  Henny still appears to have a full complement of feathers, but Penny is missing a large patch on her back, just in front of her tail bustle.

Henny attempted to hatch eggs again this spring, but put much less effort into it than last year.  Denise only had to pull her off the nest for about a week, before Henny gave up.  Penny continues to be the boss, but rarely needs to peck her flock to keep them in line.  She only has to give them “the look” and they fall into place.  Sky continues to be her independent self and the rebel among the three.  She is often off exploring on her own and is constantly on the back deck (pooping) when she knows she is not supposed to be.  It does give the dog exercise and a lot of fun to constantly have to chase her off.

Sky gave Denise a couple of the best laughs this late spring, when Sky took it upon herself to discipline Chistery (Denise and Andrea’s Siamese/rag doll cat).

Siamese type cat sitting on sidewalk

Unfortunately Chistery has finally learned how to hunt and has caught himself a few birds and mice this spring.  He was teaching himself to jump and catch birds at the bird feeder so Denise raised it up too high for him to reach.  He did not know this and the next time he made an attempt for the feeder, he missed and landed in the middle of the chickens, which were, up to that moment in time, happily feeding on the seed that had fallen to the ground from the wild birds.  If one wants to see chickens sky-rocket into the air and scream in a coordinated fashion, all one has to do is surprise them.  You guessed it: a cat falling from the sky into the middle of a happy feeding session was indeed a surprise for the girls and all three shot up into the air, flapping, and screaming.   Denise, who was watching the scene with amusement, says she knew what was going to happen next after Sky got control of her dignity again and was able to turn and spot the cat (who, by the way, was also surprised at not having made it to the feeder and was recovering from the effort).  “You could just tell the anger was building in Sky and the next thing I knew she was chasing Chistery around the yard” she said with a laugh.  “But the next day was even better.”  According to Denise, the next day Sky had to punish Chistery again for scaring her.  It happened like this.  Denise and Andrea and their neighbors have a wooden fence between them, which has small gaps here and there between the ground and some of the boards.  The neighbors’ cats and D and A’s cats fight with each other through these gaps.  The gaps are only big enough for cat arms, but that does not stop both sides from trying to bat each other vigorously.  Unbeknownst to Sky, who was walking the fence line looking for food, she was approaching one of these gaps where moments before Chistery and his arch enemy next door were taking a break from a round of batting at each other under the fence.  Just as Sky was within a foot of the gap, Chistery chose that moment to attack the fence gap and cat on the other side again.  “Oh that chicken was pissed.” Denise mused.  “She was completely taken off guard and quite surprised again and ended up chasing Chistery around again, but couldn’t catch him.  But she wasn’t done.  She let Chistery run about ten feet away, where he decided to rest.  Now I don’t know why, but he turned his back to Sky, which she used to her advantage.  I could see the wheels turning in her head.  She ran full force at him and jumped onto his rump.  Chistery shot into the air and run across the yard at full speed.  I think his backend was out-running his frontend.  He didn’t stop to look back at who had attacked him until he was at the other end of the yard.  Geesh, chickens are a lot of fun.”  Denise said with a grin.

Readers Get Their Own Chickens

Black and white chick
New family member Pearl in Heidi’s hand.

Enhance life with hens.  That’s the mission of this publication and some of our readers are taking it to heart.  A reader and her family (we’ll call her Heidi and say that she is Andrea’s sister) finally took the plunge and now have their own chickens.

Boy in chicken coop.
Coop in progress – hey that’s not a chicken!




They worked feverishly to build the run and coop after they bought their less than week-old chicks, for chickens grow really fast.  We hope Heidi will send us chicken stories for the Hen Herald.




Palace of the Fowl
Chicken CoopDenise has given tours of her coop to interested readers who are thinking of getting chickens, and as promised in the last Hen Herald, here is Henny, Penny, and Sky’s home in detail.

When Denise and Andrea decided they wanted chickens, they also decided that a coop and garden tool shed should be combined.  Thus the search for the perfect shed commenced – one which would look good and would be easy to add a run outside and coop inside.  They found a woman who builds shed/play houses and would even design the shed with old windows (which can be opened for air) from Andrea and Denise’s basement.  The shed is 6×8’ with a similar size run on the outside.  The run has a door to let the chickens out into the yard and a clear plastic roof to keep rain out and let sunshine in.  The shed and run are under trees where the run and coop/shed are partial shaded. Denise tried to design her run and coop so that every part of it opens up for easy cleaning.  The plastic roof of the run can be lifted and propped up so that a person can walk around in it for cleaning.

runHere is a view of the run from the gate that opens to the yard.  Note the roof (see through) and porch and ramp to a chicken-sized door to get inside the coop.  Denise used heavy wire mesh for the run to keep the many predators out (raccoons, skunks, coyotes), and the mesh is buried almost a foot into the ground.

Denise and Andrea expected that the chickens would have access to the yard when they were home and therefore the run did not need to be very large.  Denise and Andrea have an over-sized property lot and therefore the yard is quite spacious for the chickens who have plenty of area to exercise and hunt for food to their hearts’ content.  For this reason, the girls have never attempted to leave the protected fenced yard.  And are very willing to return to their safe coop and roost at night to sleep.

The coop inside the shed is not very large either, more designed as a cage, but large enough for three chickens.  Denise wanted the coop to be small so that most of the shed could hold her and Andrea’s garden and yard tools.

Inside coop/shedThis view is from the shed door looking in.  Tools cover all the walls of the shed except the far wall where a window and the chicken door to the coop are located.  Note that a shelf is above.  The roosting end of the coop has an open-sided box on top for the roost and below are two small boxes, one for a nest box (far side) and one for a bowl of grit and oyster shells (stays cleaner, since hens only enter this area to eat grit and shells for calcium).  The two smaller boxes have doors that open for easy access to eggs, etc. and the roost has a top cover that opens up.  The black line (white arrow) is a tray that catches the chicken manure during roosting.  The rest of the coop is a box with chicken wire for the sides and the top opens up here too for easy access.  On the very left edge of this photo is a gate, attached to the gate is the water and dry pellet feeding stations.  All designed for easy access with minimal effort.

coop water and foodThis is a view from the top of the roost looking into the coop.  The water and pellet feeders are visible on the coop gate and the door to the run for the chickens is in the center of the photo.  The door slides up and down if Denise wants to close the chickens in, and can be secured into place.  During the winter this door is closed every night to keep the wind out, but during warm summer days and nights both the chicken door and windows are open to let cool air in.

coop roost boxThis is a view from the top but now looking back into the roost area, with the black tray clearly visible.  The top arrow is pointing to the roosting bar over the tray.  The second arrow is pointing to the ramp for the chickens to use to get to and from the roost.  This ramp was replaced with one that now reaches all the way to the roost, for the chickens were having a hard time getting down from the bar.  The first step was a doozy.  Now they can walk right off the roost down to the floor of the coop.

Black hen in nest box
Henny on the nest brooding, she has spotted the camera.

And here is Henny demoing the nest box that is under the ramp and roost, it is the darkest area of the coop; chickens like to feel closed in and protected to lay their eggs.
We hope you enjoyed our little tour of the Palace of the Fowl.




Chicken Humor

The Hen Herald is introducing a new section of this publication that will feature a humorous view of chickens every issue.  Readers are encouraged to send in chicken jokes.

chicken crossing road
Contributed by Heidi

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