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In the middle of winter, when we were getting the itch to get outside and plant a garden, but obviously couldn’t, we decided to get a literal tankful of adorable baby chicks that would revitalize our aging flock. I figured by the time the weather was starting to warm up, the younger chicks would be ready to lay eggs. While that will be true in a few short weeks, I also failed to underestimate how much I wouldn’t like having chicks inside.


It seemed to take all of two seconds before the chicks started feathering and realized that they could get to a better vantage point by hopping from their water container to the edge of their trough. That was also cute for about two seconds because if there’s one thing anyone who’s ever had chickens knows, it’s that they are not discriminatory about where they poo. No one ever accused them of being smart.


There was a silver lining to the chicken stink and an unimaginable layer of dust: it motivated me to finish the luxury chicken coop I’d been planning for months. With the snow gone, I drug out all the wood and tools I’d need to put it together, had a rough idea in my head of how I was going to fit it in around the pre-existing structure of the stall, and got to work.


At the start of any project, it always seems like a huge, monumental project that I think I’m going to finish a lot faster than I possibly can. Thankfully, the kids kept popping in and out of the barn to help (and sometimes, “help”). They’re fascinated with power tools and air gun staplers and the promise of also getting the adorable-yet-smelly chicks out of the house.


I wanted our luxury chicken suite to not only be spacious for the hens, but also extremely functional. I had spent the fall taking off the wallboards of the stall and putting up hardware cloth behind them, then putting back up the boards. Hardware cloth will keep out predators, mice, and opportunistic birds who would love a mouthful of their chicken food (I’m looking at you, starlings). The hens’ll get plenty of sunshine and air circulation with the setup, too. Eventually, when the chicks are old enough to go outside, they’ll be free-range like the rest of our older girls. But, at night or when the weather is bad, they’ll all be able to fit inside without having to squish next to each other.


When the kids could no longer reach from the ladder, I had to call in Jack to help. He always has better ideas than I do when it comes to how to fit everything in and his arms are a lot longer, so he can reach spots I can’t. Plus, I like working with him. It was satisfying to go inside after getting a little bit done every day and getting some time to chat with only the occasional interruption from the kids, who needed a kiss on whatever new bump they’d gotten while playing or to break up one of their spats.


Eventually, the day came that all the chicks were moved to their new palace…and there was much rejoicing. The chicks hardly knew what to do with themselves, so they kept to the corner, away from the fresh air and sunshine, clinging to Evelyn’s ankles, since they’re the one person they trust (not me though…I fed and watered them every day–some days twice–and they were sure I was going to jump in and eat every last one of them). It took a few days for them to relax and make full use of the coop, but once they did, it was clear that they were happy. Ecstatic, really.


Though the new chicken coop isn’t perfect, I’m happy with the work we did. And, if anyone should say anything about its imperfection, I’ll ask them what they were able to do while large and pregnant. 😜 I still need to build a nesting box before they start laying and putting in some roosts, but otherwise, it’s safe to say the luxury chicken suite is finished!


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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