Sombreuil Climbing Rose 1850

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2010 Tour de Coops

As some of you have heard me say "I'm not built for speed."  And here is the proof...photos from two months ago...The day of the Phoenix Tour de (chicken)Coops I volunteered at a coop as part of my Master Gardener commitment to educate the public.  As a former hen keeper, and still a hen lover, I looked forward to seeing what was new in the world of hens and their pens.  I was stationed at a home in Tempe where two graduate students and a "significant other" were rearing a few hens who had just entered their age of laying.  It was delightful to see the interest in growing your own food, in this case... eggs.  By the time I was free to tour I only made it to six coops. And not until the 5th and 6th coops did it occur to me to use my camera!  So here is a bit of my tour.

Charming Coop decorated for the holidays.  The owner's spouse said it changes with each holiday.  Notice the little iron chairs in the lower right.  For when the ladies are having tea?

The back side of the Charming Coop was built for practicality when cleaning and gathering yet keeps the  residents safe and dry. 

When they aren't busy redecorating the Charming Coop there is a favorite place to sit and enjoy watching the hens play


Watching the poms grow and the paint dry.  Life is good when you can unwind as this family does.

And now welcome to a Village Coop.

Village Coop... because it took a village to design and construct this coop.  Definitely the most advanced design of the few coops I saw.  Many hands shared the costs and purchased the materials and spent the time assembling the coop.  And many hands will enjoy caring for the hens who will lay the eggs that the many hands will enjoy.

Note the "Dutch Door" for added ventilation.  This coop is on a North / South axis between a home and a perimeter wall.  The nesting boxes are raised and on the back wall.

These hens have a perch (on the right) in addition to the floor and the nests when they are in the coop.  See how the food and water are hung for the ceiling to keep the containers clean and therefore reduced the chances of diseases.  The silver dome toward the front is the heat lamp; especially nice in the winter and for younger hens.  Those these girls are healthy, heat is often the Rx for sick fish and birds.

As I recall our tour guide, aka resident hen wrangler,said that the intention is to eventually have 20-24 hens share these accommodations.  Hhmm I wondered if they had enough nesting boxes.  "Oh yes!" I was told.  "A lot of them like to lay their eggs together in the same box at the same time."  Well I remember we had 6 hens and two nests so I guess that does work out fine, when all are willing to share.  But when they don't isn't that what "pecking order" is for?  Notice the light at the bottom of of the boxes?  And what appears to be 2 rather large eggs?

How swell is this set up?!  This photo shows the back side (South) of the Village Coop.  Easy egg gathering and nest box cleaning!  The eggs are dummies for the benefit of the touring visitors.  Some people do put dummy eggs in the nesting boxes as the hens are nearing laying age.

This coop appeared to be the safest I'd seen to keep.  A veritable Fort Knox for the hens.  Neither rain nor sun, nor coyote, raccoon, bobcat nor dog shall keeps these hens from delivering their eggs.  Can't wait to go again next year and see many more coops. 

Every time I hear the lovely low clucking of hens I find it almost irresistible not to try again.  Is their soothing purring enough to get me over the fear of loosing them to coyotes?  Stay tuned.  Who knows.  Marans with their chocolate brown eggs seem to be calling my name.

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