City Chickens: Watching an Idea Become Reality, Part VI


Meet Heather and Brian, Lansing residents and hopeful urban farmers. Follow them as they document their new project: raising backyard chickens. You’ll see the construction process, meet their chicks and follow their development over the summer.

Move In Day!

We’ve finally arrived at the moment of truth: introducing the chicks to their new coop-and-run.  

There were, of course, a million details to iron out on the last weekend before we could bring them out permanently.  Here’s a look at some final stage preparation and building:

Finished nest boxes

Brian finished the nest boxes; insulated, secured, perfect!

Heather working on coop floor

I worked on the coop flooring. We are laying inexpensive vinyl tile for easy coop clean-up.

The coop - painted and floored

Painted and floored the coop – looks nice, right? We could live in here!

Coop access door

Brian built a beautiful coop access door. The barn style door is a great design for this kind of coop.

Taking a break

Need to take a break and read up on roost and droppings board heights before I install. It’s really comfortable in here!

Ramp to the coop

We put in a ramp to the coop, hopefully they can figure it out. Fingers crossed!

Coop interior - finished

Coop interior, finished and ready to go.

Our chicks are six weeks old, feathered out and ready to live outside full-time.  We were anxious to get them out of the brooder and into these spacious new digs! They were a little anxious too.

Time to move out

Let’s go already!

And so we moved them into their new home.  They were a little overwhelmed at first, and stayed in a tight group.  In a few short hours they were exploring happily.

Chicks in the run - Day One

Chicks in the run – Day One

Brian keeps an eye on the situation.

Brian keeps an eye on the situation.

The first night was a bit sleepless. I woke up in the middle of the night worried about a small hole left open for electrical, and my first bleary thought was “weaselferretminkpinemarten.”  

Pine Marten, public domain photo, US FWS

Hi! I’m a Pine Marten!

Luckily we had no mishaps in the night.  Upon opening the door the girls hopped out and enjoyed their first full day outside.

Treat time in the run

Treat time in the run.

Mei Mei is a little leery of the ramps we’ve built: she’s still smaller than the other four. 

Buffy and Freya on the ramp

Buffy and Freya on the ramp.

The chicks also ignore their fancy roost bar, preferring to mob up in the doorway at night or just sleep in a pile in the pine shavings.  Instinct will change this behavior eventually, but it might take a few more weeks.  We also can’t use our much-loved automatic door yet, as the chicks don’t always climb into the coop when it gets dark.  It’s just Day Four of the new set up, so we’ll give them a little more time to get their bearings.

Dust baths are fun, and stick climbing is popular.  They run up for treats whenever we check on them.  Spoiled chickens!

Lenore climbing

Lenore explores her new home.

More treats please!

This is the life!

Next post: A Day on the (Urban) Farm

© hgoupil 2012

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9 responses to “City Chickens: Watching an Idea Become Reality, Part VI

  1. Lucky chicks to have you two. What a wonderful, thought out, splendid coop. I know it’s too soon, but when can you expect green eggs & ham?

    • Tiger will eventually lay green (or blue) eggs – but only the shells are green! :) And you can expect eggs of all shell-colors at around 20-24 weeks. The chicks are about 8 weeks old right now, so we hope for eggs in late September. We’ll make a brunch date!

  2. The coop is beautiful! Heather, how are the chickens handling this heat?

    • Hi Julie! Thanks for the praise. The chickens are doing pretty well in the heat; they have lots of water and a huge area for dust bathing as well as a well-ventilated coop. Dust bathing is one of the primary ways chickens beat the heat. We check on them several times a day and refresh the water too. Hopefully the heat will break soon and give us all a much-needed respite!

  3. I have to ask: What is dust bathing? Our horses love to roll in the dirt, and that’s what I keep picturing. It’s fun keeping up with your coop. We have a rural farm (no chickens), and it’s interesting to see how your urban farm is coming along. The farm across from ours has chickens, but they always seem to be in or near the road. Have fun, keep posting!

    • Dust bathing consists of a chicken hunkering down in the dust and kind of puffing up her plumage and settling into the dirt so that the dust gets up into her feathers – it’s really quite funny to watch, and I’ll be talking more about it in the next post on the topic of “Chicken Behavior.” Dust bathing keeps parasites down and cools the chickens off – they don’t like to get wet, so this is their version of a nice bath. Glad you are enjoying the blog so far! :)

  4. Hi Heather, please let me know if you know anyone missing a brown hen — my neighbor found one tonight and it didn’t belong to anyone we know of. Another guy who has chickens is taking care of it for now.

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