Mary says this picture makes her look scary. Uh, yeah!
Yesterday, Mary and I picked out some chickens. We got 6 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Barred Rocks, and 2 rainbow layers. I don’t know if these are good ones, but I do know that they are what Orscheln had. Ten birds may sound like a lot, but I figure some of them will die or turn out to be roosters. If they all survive and turn out to be hens, then that’s okay, I have enough room for them. My coop is bad ass.
I have a tried-and-true method for building things: just start, and never think more than one step ahead. I retrofitted part of my barn to be a coop. Like most retrofits, it ain’t perfect. The previous owners of my house left all sorts of building materials lying around, including several rolls of fencing and chicken wire. All I had to buy for the coop was a few sheets of OSB and some hinges and a latch for the door. Altogether, I have about $150 invested in materials, supplies, and birds.
Anything lying around was bound to be incorporated into my “design.”
This is all part of my quest to be able to refer to my place as a farm whilst putting forth as little effort as possible. Chickens seem to be relatively low hassle and high output. I was surprised, though, at how long it took me to throw a coop-and-run together. I worked on it for a few hours a day for about a week. In that time, I could build a hundred honey supers, a project with more need of precision. Running the wire was tedious, though, and the 4 x 8 sheets of OSB — while not tremendously heavy — were certainly enough to cause someone my size to strain when lifting multiple sheets overhead, balancing them, and then fastening them carefully with one hand. At one point I lifted one into place, then held it in delicate balance with one hand while straining to reach anything — a drill, a hammer, anything! — with which to attach it. Alas, I could not reach. And since it took a Davidic effort to place the sheet, I was reluctant to let it drop. Mary arrived right at that time and lent a hand — disaster averted.
Cordless power tools proved worth the investment. It probably would have taken me twice as long with corded tools. Having the tools I needed close to hand — lightweight, cordless, and with plenty of batteries — saved more in frustration than it did in effort, but frustration tends to slow me down more than fatigue does.
For now, the little chickies are enjoying the good life in a tub in my laundry room.