Sleep and chicken coops

The strangest thing happened on Thursday morning. Lying in bed, having been fast asleep, I became aware of Hugo chatting away in his cot at the foot of our bed. Exhausted, I slowly opened an eye. As soon as I focused, I saw that Alex was doing exactly the same thing. He was looking as puzzled as I was feeling. It was light. Hugo had slept through the night. Woot! I’m pleased to report he has repeated his trick each night since, aside from Saturday night (where he only woke once).

smile hmmI think Hugo’s as happy as we are.

I am hoping beyond hope that sleep will be our new normal. We saw a pediatrician a while back who changed Hugo’s reflux medication around. We saw an almost instant improvement, but we  were still up a few times a night. A fortnight ago, I decided to give him a try on a formula designed for babies with cows milk protein allergy based on the fact that his tummy was more upset than not. The change has been remarkable, so I think we may have found the source of his discomfort. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, it seems, was destined to be an auspicious day. We picked our first strawberry, and a little rhubarb (which I’m ashamed to say I’ve done nothing with – it was only about 1/2 a cup worth of stalks).

first strawberryrhubarb lookThe strawberries in our hanger have really taken off this week. We’ll have lots to pick for Elena’s snack tomorrow.

strawberry hangerWhile I’m still feeling exhausted despite the sleep, I’ve also had a lot more energy for working outside. I’ve not been blogging much because I’ve been out in the garden, clearing the area where we will soon, hopefully, have a chicken coop all ready for chickens.

clearedThe place was an absolute mess. The weeds were up past my knees. Alex and his father cut down three more trees over the weekend. They were all within a meter from our poor apple tree. Talk about over planted. We have yet another trailer load to go to the green waste section of the tip for composting.

trailerI found all of this on the ground along the fence line and behind the shed. It’s the garden that keeps on giving.

refuseThe vegetable patch is proving to be a bit of a disaster due to lack of sun – even though I thought I’d found a good spot, I under estimated our apple tree. The cucumbers and bean plants have all been eaten by snails.

patch strawberriesThe strawberries look like they would like more sun but the tomato plants are soldiering on. tomatoesI’m going to find a new spot for the vegetables next year. Either that, or prune the apple tree (which is overdue anyway).

Once I’ve got this part of the yard cleaned up, it’s time to set up a coop. The coop will be going on the slab from the old shed (peeking out from behind the grape vine).

path to slab

I’ve been tossing up whether to go for an eBay flat-packed chicken coop from Four Seasons, or whether to build our own from the Wichita chicken coop plans. Either way, the coop and fittings will be forming the better part of my Christmas presents this year.

These are the two choices:

wichita Wichita Chicken Coop, photo courtesy of backyardchickens.com
ebay coopFour Seasons chicken coop, photo courtesy of eBay

Of course, we could also just make it up as we go along. I fear that might not end so well. There are many pros and cons involved in this decision and I change my mind with the wind.

The eBay coop would be cheaper than buying all of the materials for a new coop and it would be much quicker to assemble. The coop could be modified to make it stronger and more weather-proof, and it would be a good introduction to keeping chickens without a huge outlay if it all goes pear-shaped for whatever reason. The downside is that eBay coops have a reputation for falling apart, and being rather small and hard to clean. I’m not sure what this seller’s reputation is like, but this is their biggest coop and an adult can stand up in it.

Building our own coop would probably result in a more sturdy coop which would last longer. It probably wouldn’t look as neat. It would take us a much longer amount of time, especially considering we have no carpentry experience and the kidlets to wrangle. We would not only need to buy a lot of the materials, we would also need to buy a lot of tools (although my father has helped on that front, buying me a circular saw this week!). Based on some preliminary research, I think I’m unlikely to be able to salvage enough to make a coop from recycled stuff. It would, however, be extremely satisfying.

I’m going back to work in January, and it would be nice to get the coop sorted by then so we can get the chickens settled in before winter.

At the moment, I’m back to leaning towards buying the Four Seasons coop from eBay and modifying it. Tomorrow morning I may well have reasoned myself back to building from scratch. It’s like playing responsible grown-up roulette. With chickens. Don’t forget the chickens!

What do you think? Do you have any experience of coop building or eBay coops? I’d love to hear your opinion.

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7 Responses to Sleep and chicken coops

  1. Emgy says:

    Wow! You have been a busy beaver. I have absolutely no knowledge on chicken coops. I’m not even familiar with Australia’s weather. One thing I noticed was that the eBay one is wood and the barnyard chickens one looks like its a type of plastic? If I’m right I think the barnyard chickens one would be a lot easier to clean and won’t rot. Wood will rot. Much harder to keep clean.
    that’s just my two cents. Beyond that, I know nothing about coops!

    PS: Hugo is so adorable! He is a spitting image of Elena.

    • Ruth says:

      He is, isn’t he?

      Both coops would be made out of wood. They’ll be up on a concrete slab which will hopefully reduce the rot issue – but you’re right – it is an issue. Both have removable floors for cleaning. I’d probably cover both with linoleum to make cleaning easier.

  2. JanMarie says:

    I like the flat roofed coop – why not sure think it would take less yard space, the other may have it as well but I like the door & windows in the chook’s ‘bedroom’. As to falling apart, I think that comes down to the building of a flat pack, you could end up with the same problem with something you start from scratch. Even though I think you could easily do it, I do think building from scratch would be a lot more frustrating and obviously more time consuming that a flat pack. When we kept chooks, we just had a high wire fence with an old tin shed for their house. In comparison these coops are really like mansions.

    • Ruth says:

      They are pretty fancy, aren’t they? When I was a kid we also just had a high wire fence and an open tin shed. One of the big problems we’ve got here in Canberra are aggressive foxes. I’ve heard so many horror stories so want a coop I can lock at night and that’s very secure. Both of these ones are about the same size.

      You’re right about the way we build it making a difference. I was figuring we might be able to add extra screws/silicone/wood glue at the joins for both, but especially the eBay coop.

      There is a door on the other side of the eBay coop, as well as ventilation in the back. I guess we could always add a window too for more ventilation. The actual eBay listing is here.

      Agh, so many things to think about.

  3. Tash says:

    Wow! Good luck with it all my dear 🙂
    Maybe you should buy the flat pack one so you can get set up quickly – and as you say it would be a good introduction if it all goes pear-shaped. Down the track if all is going well, you could design your own and have a build project – you’d have “coop build experience” from building the flat pack plus having had used the coop you’d know what elements were important/need improving.

  4. The garden is looking exceptional Ruth! And my goodness you have good looking children. That first photo of Hugo is just fantastic! He’s got an ‘old soul’ look to him doesn’t he?!

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