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You win, geoff. January 12, 2017

Posted by skinbad in Ducks, Nature Shit, Personal Experiences.

I guess I’ll tell you a chicken story to help push that bad batch of sour cream below farther down the page.

I think I’ve mentioned to some of you that we’ve had chickens for a few years. A neighbor wanted to get rid of theirs (that should always tell you something, in my humble opinion). Anyway, like pretty much all things that happen to change my personal inertia, my wife decided to do something: in this case, that we should have chickens. Unlike the time she had hinted she wanted new carpet for a couple of years and finally let me know she was serious by ripping it out and having it sitting in the driveway when I came home from work, this time, she insisted I prepare for this new brood by coming up with some sort of hen house.

We had a dog house my dad had given me. I remember him building it when I was about five. So that would put the dog house in the 45-year-old range. Dad built things to last. I figured I could build a frame of 2x4s with four legs to set the doghouse on to raise it up a couple of feet and replaced the tongue and groove/tin covered roof with a piece of 1/4″ plywood. I attached the roof to the front braces with hinges so the roof could be lifted up for egg retrieval. I also had to throw up a quick fenced area in the back yard and built a ramp for the new arrivals to get from the ground up to their new digs.

It worked all right. And the chickens were perfect assholes. They were skittish and high-strung and would freak at any approaching human. So, naturally, my wife decided we needed a few more. The next spring she bought five chicks and we raised those stinky things to adulthood before introducing them to the four life-scarred and world-weary malcontents in the back. But, I didn’t know if the little doghouse/coop would hold that many.

Someone we knew was building a new house a few blocks away and I asked if I could scavenge some of the pressboard pieces in the dumpster to come up with a larger coop. I built a larger version but with similar features. Notably the hinged roof–but this time I attached it to the back of the coop. Over the last couple of years, two of the hens somehow got themselves killed by neighborhood critters, so we’re down to seven, and they all fit just fine in the newer coop. But, the old one is still out in the chicken run about two feet away.

The chickens are odd. They always sleep (and crap) in the new coop, so we (meaning “I,” see how that usually works out?) have to clean it out and put in fresh bedding every 2-3 weeks. The old coop can have the same bedding for a year. The chickens are in and out of it all day long, but they never sleep in it and never crap in it. It’s like their weekend home that they don’t feel comfortable enough with to use the facilities.

So, last night we had a lot of wind from the southwest–also some snow. The new coop with the hinges on the back can have the roof blown up and over so that it’s hanging off the back side by its hinges. It’s happened two or three times over the past few years. I should work up a latch to fix my bad design but just haven’t done it.

When it became light enough to see out the back door this morning, we could see the roof had blown over. My wife went out to feed them and flip the roof back and found seven snow-covered chicken lumps. They were alive, but not very happy. They could have made the five foot journey to the old coop, but just sat there and got snowed on all night.

Conclusions? Chickens are stupid. Some are more pleasant than others. We got all different breeds just for variety sake. Some are known to get along with others (and you) better than other breeds. I think there’s some truth to that. Also, the ones we raised from chicks are nicer than the immigrants. They do provide eggs, but we buy mash and scratch so it might come out as a wash. They do dispose of/recycle a lot of your kitchen scraps. They will wander and find dogs to eat them and fall in window wells if you allow it. They are amazing diggers. This would be a better post with pictures, but I’m doing this on my lunch hour at work because the previously posted drumsticks offended my sensibilities enough that I felt a need to act.



1. Sobek - January 12, 2017

I salute you, sir. You’ve done your country proud. I am a little worried about setting up a perverse incentive scheme for geoff, though.

2. Cathy - January 12, 2017

Enjoyed the LONG story, the photos, the humor.


I thought I wanted chickens someday. On a mission trip a few years ago, one family we were helping had chickens. They were some breed that was incredibly smart and known for eating bugs and other nasty vermin. Now I can’t recall what kind those ‘smart’ ones were, and I’m reconsidering ever getting them.

3. vaitguy - January 12, 2017

*golf clap*
You’re a real patriot Skinbad!

4. Veeshir - January 12, 2017

The trick is to have kids who you can force to take care of them.
My father did that and he never had a problem with his chickens.
Me on the other hand……

If you’r ambitious, get some fine wire and put it a foot or two above the floo or even make it the floor, make them use that for a floor. That way it’s easier to clean.
I’ve heard that’s what turkey farmers do.

5. lauraw - January 12, 2017

Skinbad is a Great American.

6. geoff - January 12, 2017

I am a little worried about setting up a perverse incentive scheme for geoff, though.

Time for the Helen Thomas bikini series…

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