Sunday, January 16, 2011

Yankee Chicken Coops

Pat Leuchtman, a writer and homesteader who lives on End of the Road Farm in Heath, Massachusetts, has shared photos and the ingenious engineering of her and her neighbors' chicken coops:

"When we moved to our ‘farm’ at the end of a Massachusetts road, we were thrilled that it came equipped with a henhouse. We could have chickens our first year, with no more effort than a good cleanout.

Our henhouse

“Our henhouse has two functional sections. The entry section houses chicks when they arrive in the spring, as well as metal cans to hold feed. When they are about three months old, the chicks join the layers in the second section. Both have access to outdoor space. Over the years I have visited other chicken lovers and admired the design decisions that they made.

Emma's henhouse. You can see the fence, which is
solar-powered electric — to keep the critters out.

“We have to wear snowshoes to get to our henhouse in the winter, but young Emma had her henhouse built of scrap wood on an old wagon chassis so it can be wheeled to an area near the kitchen door before the snow flies. The egg boxes are accessible from the outside, and the ramp folds up to close the chicken door.

Emma's henhouse with clean-out door

“Also note the big end door that makes it easy to clean out the henhouse. The henhouse and the solar electric fence can be moved into the garden so the chickens can do a little manuring and tilling.

“Our friend Bob does a lot of construction, so he always has leftover construction materials. Like Emma he wanted to be able to move his henhouse, but he didn’t have wheels; he settled for skids. Renovations on his house left him with an old shower door, now a fixed chicken window. His ramp also folds up to close the chickens in at night.

Bob's henhouse, with shower-door window and fold-up ramp

“Sheila’s henhouse began as a bridge in the neighborhood where she grew up. The bridge came down, and her father built a shed out of some of the wood. Thirty years ago when Sheila, then a young wife and mother, started keeping chickens and goats, her father’s shed was dismantled and began a new life. Recently, it was renovated and tightened up to keep out the critters that have been known to decimate a flock in only a few days.

The exterior of Sheila's henhouse

This essentially square henhouse has an entry way that is just big enough to hold feed barrels and give access to the beautiful new egg boxes. The backs of the boxes lift up on the entry side.

Sheila's egg boxes

“When our neighbor Doug moved his office into his barn, he not only insulated his new workspace but the henhouse located just below. The chickens have plenty of space inside and access to a chicken yard in all weathers.

Doug's foldable roost

“His hens have many egg boxes and a roost that folds up against the wall to make cleanout easy. He even provided a heated waterer that will not freeze. Luxury, for him and the hens.

“Our neighborhood shows Yankee ingenuity and thrift at work on behalf of the hens — and those who get to enjoy good fresh eggs.”

Pat Leuchtman is a garden writer for The Recorder (Greenfield, MA)

Read Pat's blog: Commonweeder

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