I‘m not sure I could have ever foreseen that one day I would own and raise chickens but here I am. What started out as helping a neighbor prepare for their chickens turned into me getting my own flock the following year.

It was a fun and rewarding experience to help my neighbor and her family remodel their playhouse into a coop and run. Even more enjoyable was being able to watch the neighbor kids learn how to use power tools and see the excitement in their eyes as they built things that the chickens needed.

Now that my work on the coop is done, I can sit back and relax and enjoy them. OK, who am I kidding?

The plan was to board a couple of my own chickens at the neighbor’s and I would just visit. That summer was spent building and then sitting with the chickens — even if I was often there all by myself!

Photo by Nicole Lange - Hanging with the peeps!
Photo by Nicole Lange – Hanging with the peeps!

Fast forward to the following year. I realized that having chickens so far away, or just across the street, was not what I wanted. I wanted to have my own flock. Thus started a summer-long project of building, remodeling, and research. Who knew there are so many groups out there about chickens!

I went to work converting our old shed to a coop. After lifting it up to level the base then adding a new floor I dug around it and installed hardware cloth so no animals could get in and eat my babies.

Then the inside work began. I sealed the floor, added fiberglass reinforced plastic panels to the walls, added the roosts, poop board, ladder, nesting boxes, and windows.

Next came the run. With the help of my husband we added posts and put up a roof. I moved our old play set and made a ramp so the chickens could have their own little fort.

We’ve learned about ‘chicken math.’ As close as we can tell, it goes something like 1+1 is not equal to 2 chickens. It’s more like 1+1=5 chickens.

As all this was happening, I was taking care my own baby chicks plus some extra ones for my neighbor. I believe we had 26 chicks in a brooder box that quickly expanded to a brooder box attached to an extra-large dog kennel in our garage. Not sure what I was thinking but it all worked out.

Then it was time to add the chickens. I was so excited and nervous, but they all survived and made it their home.

Photo by Nicole Lange - Snack time!
Photo by Nicole Lange – Snack time!

Finally, we even got our first egg! I literally yelled, screamed and went running over to the neighbors to show them.

The change of the seasons meant I had to winterize the coop and run. Being a resourceful person, I managed to minimize expenses by using old, used items. I purchased an automatic coop door which was the single most expensive item in the project and also the best investment.

The chickens survived and thrived through the winter and we enjoyed them the whole time.

When spring came, I was able to just sit and chill with my peeps. They are able to free-range and to watch them and hear them squawking to each other while I am sitting on my deck is by far the most gratifying part of the process. They will even come running up to me when I’m in the yard.

Photo by Nicole Lange - Rooster Rambo hoping to avoid the kitchen
Photo by Nicole Lange – Rooster Rambo hoping to avoid the kitchen

We had to re-home a few of them as it became clear they were roosters. Chuckie, in particular, was able to go to a farm instead of the crock pot! We now have another rooster, Rambo, who will hopefully be able to stay with us.

We’ve learned about “chicken math.” As close as we can tell, it goes something like 1+1 is not equal to 2 chickens. It’s more like 1+1=5 chickens. It is a real thing and by next spring I am afraid I may have fallen victim to it. I hope I can be strong, but I am making no promises.

Now that my work on the coop is done, I can sit back and relax and enjoy them. Ok, who am I kidding? To this day I am still building, remodeling and doing research.

Author

  • Nicole Lange

    aka MacGyver, is a wife and mother of two girls, two dogs, 17 chickens, three fish and one hamster. She enjoys spending time with family, friends and time alone. She also enjoys hands-on projects, painting, building, and fixing things. She's always willing to try something new.