I just heard from Chicken Saloon that “The Ranch,” my beautiful, all new, twelve-foot-run- included chicken coop that’s a just- right fit for my garden space, is due to be shipped at the end of next week. None too soon! It was supposed to be here by the middle of the month, which would have been perfect timing for my four week old chicks. But things happen, I guess, and I was informed that there had been “a delay in production.” Delivery was not to be expected for at least another two weeks. This might be okay if it was a pair of shoes or a can opener or something, but these guys are growing by the hour! They’ll soon be the size of toddlers if this keeps up! I could go shopping for another coop, of course, but having searched long and hard for the this one, which I consider to be ideal, I’m not keen on compromising. So we’re sticking with the decision to “wing it” for a week or too. (Pardon the pun…yes, they can fly).
The girls (and one guy) had been living in a large dog crate in the laundry room, but once they reached a certain size, this was getting old, especially with them constantly kicking the shavings out all over the floor. Although the living conditions weren’t nearly as bad for them as if they’d worked for Tyson’s or Purdue, it was getting a little stressful for everyone. A couple of Sundays ago, Ted kindly agreed to tape the baseball game so he could spend the afternoon coming up with some temporary but suitable outside housing for them. This project included entry into the old chicken house on the property, an adventure in itself, given that the floor has collapsed, the roof is sagging and it’s now home to heaven-knows-what-all kinds of critters. But the risk of a wild encounter proved to be worth it. He escaped with a galvanized steel water dispenser, an old wooden ladder that’s perfect for roosting and a roll of chicken wire. A section of the old picket fencing lying in the shed worked perfectly for a makeshift gate. The resulting structure is roughly a 10×12 x4ft space, enclosed on all sides and across the top by chicken wire–just enough to let them spread their wings a little every day until the real deal arrives. Thank you, TED!
The first time we took them out there was a fiasco. They were startled to be out in the open and were somehow immediately drawn to wedging themselves in a small opening at the bottom of the gate. Getting them out wasn’t easy, and they were making all kinds of racket. It was a sight, with them screeching and the dogs going crazy at the sight of the loose chickens. Somehow we got them back into their crate as quickly as we could and called it a day.
A week later they were bigger, and seemed delighted to be let loose in the grass. We started bringing them out for just an hour or two at first, which made for some mighty happy chicks. This quickly led to a routine of releasing them in the morning and leaving them there until the late afternoon. But the bigger they got, the more hassle it was to get the crate into the garden, and then to get them to go back into the crate in the evening for their trip back to the house. And still no sign of the coop.
Finally yesterday, after the back breaking job of getting them from inside to outside for the day, I decided they were staying. I took some more chicken wire (can’t have too much of that around!) and reinforced the old dog crate into a small but hopefully predator- proof container for five cheeky teenage chicks who need to be out of the house!
It was with some trepidation that I went to check on them this morning, but there they were, high and dry, looking longingly out their little door at the dew dropped grass. How lovely it was not to be lugging that crate across the yard, to just open the door and let them free! I don’t know how much longer they can all fit in there, even for the night, so we’re counting the days until “The Ranch” appears at our door. To the guys at Chicken Saloon– whose customer service by the way has been nothing but courteous and apologetic for the situation— just please hurry!! Thanks.