Tag Archives: backyardchickens

The Girls have taken a liking to me since The Dude Who Looked Like A Lady left.

ever since The Dude Who Looked Like a Lady left for a nice home in the country, The Girls have totally taken a liking to me. while they used be so skittish around me i found it hard to believe anyone could have a career in poultry portraiture, nowadays they’ll follow me around the yard and curiously check out whatever i’m doing.

which is all well and fine, except when it involves jumping up on the chopping blocks when i want to split some sauna wood! or maybe this barred rock has a death wish now that her man left.

more seriously, it makes me wonder how flock dynamics change when a rooster leaves. i assume they have to re-establish their pecking order but we haven’t seen any signs of conflict. but do they also become friendlier and more outgoing without a rooster to keep them in check?

day 2275: preparing the nesting boxes with golf balls. wait, what?

having finally finished the nesting boxes for The Girls, it’s time to prepare the boxes for the day when The Girls start laying eggs.

so we laid down some comfy straw and thought we’d try the ol’ golf ball trick to let them know where to lay the eggs so they don’t get used to laying them in random places around the coop.

supposedly, placing anything vaguely egg-shaped in a nest box will give them the idea that the boxes are “the place” to lay their eggs, too.

we should see if the trick works sometime in the next few weeks!

to light or not light the chicken coop, that is the question.

The Girls are rapidly approaching The Age of Egg Laying at the same time the days are getting shorter and shorter. most poultry resources claim that a good “rule of thumb” is hens should get about 14-16 hours of light a day to maximize egg production, which in the upper midwest means you have to supply supplemental lighting. but i’m not necessarily interested in maximizing production. i’ll take decreased production as long as we can get at least dozen eggs a week in the winter.

i’ve found anectodes online from folks who claim all our breeds ( buff orpingtons, black australorp, americauna, barred rocks, light brahma ) will continue to produce in winter – e.g. “Will Buff Orpingtons lay in the winter??”.

so, do we need add supplemental light to get them to start laying? to keep laying?

day 2269: adventures in building a nesting box.

it’s hard to believe but it’s been about 16 weeks since Odin’s Adventures with Backyard Chickens began which means they coul start laying in the next couple of weeks ( depending on the breed, hens can start laying at 20-24 weeks, although some have been known to start at 16 weeks ) which means i have to build some “nesting boxes” to attach to the coop to give them a dry, clean spot to lay their eggs.

we designed the coop with external nesting boxes in mind so we could simply lift a lid and grab the eggs without having to enter the coop. but right as i was going to start building the boxes, someone within external nesting boxes told me they have problems with frozen eggs in the winter. it seems that it doesn’t take long freezing air circulating around uninsulated boxes to turn them into eggsicles!


after a quick search i found a design for a nesting boxes for a “chicken mcmansion” that included a few inches of insulation on the walls and lid and decided to follow his lead by framing out the plywood sides with 2x2s and fitting in some 1″ foam insulation.

the general rule of thumb is about 1 box for every 3 or 4 birds which means 3 boxes should be plenty for our flock of 8 birds. the boxes about 12″x12″ which is a fairly standard size for backyard birds.

here’s a close-up of the corner after the external siding was nailed over the insulation and 2×2 frames. all things considered, everything came together nicely, although i would later discover that the “lip” created by the 2×2 would create a bit of challenge on making a snug fitting lid, all the moreso because my jigsaw is broken.

after building the nesting boxes, i had to remove the siding from the coopand cut out a portion of a 2×4 stud to make space for the box to be inserted flush with the wall. but how to removed the nails that held in the stud?

any day i get to use my dremel cutting tool is a good day 🙂

after some huffing and puffing, i got the nesting boxes secured to the side of the coop. the fit was almost a little too snug but nothing a little cursing and banging with a hammer couldn’t fix 🙂

and, yes, i still need to put some shingles on the roof which is why the coop is covered with a tarp. so much to do and so little time.

here’s the nesting box and coop after cutting out a hole in the siding and nailing it up, which was a measure thrice and cut once job. it was a little tricky to cut the siding and not leave more than an 1/8th inch gap around the box but it all came together nicely!

well, all except for the one flaw that you can see if you look closely. nothing a little trim can’t fix 🙂

and finally odin gets a chance to test swinging open the lid and reaching into the box to see if he could reach the bottom of the boxes to grab the eggs.

he could, which is A Good Thing since he’ll be running out at 6 in the morning in the winter every day to do just that!

day 2266: saying goodbye to The Dude Who Looked Like a Lady.

about 6 weeks after bringing The Girls Home we already began to suspect that one of our ameraucana hens was, in fact, a rooster as it was developing a comb and plucking feathers off hens necks. but it’s not unusual for a hen to develop rooster characteristics in a flock without male so we held out hope that She was not a He since neighbors might not be too keen on waking up to a cock-a-doodle-doo! at the crack of dawn.

about a month later “She” started attempting to crow but it was a mangled, pitiful attempt at a cock-a-doodle-doo! but we still held out hope that She was not a He since it’s not entirely unusual for a dominant hen to try to get her crow on.

at that point whether She was a He was a bit of an academic point in terms of of annoying neighbors but we still thought perhaps she was just testing her vocal chords and would eventually chill out.

but alas, two weeks later, The Dude Who Looked Like a Lady started unmistakably announcing the appearand of the morning sun with a full-blown-the-sun-is-rising-and-i-want-the-to-let-the-world-know-COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOOOOOO!

so, with a touch of sadness, in the interest of maintaining good neighborly relations, we arranged to have him sent to a caring home in the country.