As we stood in her kitchen, there out across the backyard was her beautifully constructed coop. Lauren designed it herself. She has made many coops since keeping chickens and this one seems to house the girls perfectly. The thing I love about Lauren is she is very talented with power tools and design. If she envisions it, she builds it.
Her menagerie of girls have many different ways to explore and enjoy life. They have a chicken tractor, they have various mobile pens and they have a fantastic guard dog named Marky. Marky is the girls' protector. He watches over them when they are out and about. He warns them of imminent danger and takes his job very seriously.
It was a cold January morning when I met the girls. There they were; Fern, Pigeon, Lucy, Daisy and Lil' White. Lauren shared some treats as an icebreaker. At first they were afraid of me, until I squatted on the ground in the run and said hello in my best chicken voice. Somehow, the language is universal and they all came over one by one to greet me.
Lucy is Lauren's special needs chicken. Years ago, seemingly overnight, Lucy was afflicted with Marek's Disease that affected her feet and her ability to walk.
I believe that it was Lauren's love and special attention to this girl that gave her the will to survive. Over the past couple of years, Lucy has regained the ability to walk, yet is crippled, slow and very methodical. During my visit, she walked across the run to meet up with Lauren at her sweet little house made just for her. Sometimes she prefers to stay inside this tiny house. Other times, she can be seen perched on the edge of the platform with a bird's eye view of the yard, run and her family. I think her favorite thing is to hop up onto Lauren's forearm and go for a ride.
Lauren has designed her coop with great attention to detail, both decorative and practical. She has included outside nesting boxes for easy egg harvesting.
Her run and coop are covered and are designed with an A-frame roof. It is perfect for rain and snow to melt away and never create too much weight. She covers the hardware cloth with plastic sheeting in the Winter to help minimize the girls' exposure to the elements. This also serves to keep the portion of the run closest to the coop sheltered. A ramp leads up to the entry door of the coop. A heated dog bowl in the covered run keeps their water from freezing in the winter and food is available at all times. Play things are abundant including logs, treat containers and perches. Lauren tells me that her best idea was adding play sand to this portion of the run.
Inside the coop, there are a variety of perches of different widths and heights to meet every chicken's desire. Lauren uses pine shavings on the floor. Despite her best efforts, poor Fern always needs to retire at night with the help of Lauren. The coop has a large window that faces the morning sun. It is perfect for early risers and wonderful to give outsiders a glimpse in.
If you would like to see more of our Tour de Coops, click here.
Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest