Chicken Incidents

A few weeks ago we got excited about building a niche site as a supplementary source of income.  In the process of researching internet marketing we got exposed to the idea of affiliate marketing. Essentially we bring customers to a site or product and if they end up making a purchase then we get a commission.  Seemed like a good idea.  Molly researched a few different products and we wrote to them to get samples.  One thing we don’t want to do is steer people to crappy products.  We’re so glad we did that because a bunch of them were not worth mentioning and didn’t make the cut.  One that did though was the Chicken DIY Guide.  Yup that’s it right there to your right.  The Chicken DIY guide is a very comprehensive set of plans for three different chicken coops.  Each set of plans runs up to thirty pages of instructions and guides you every step of the way.  They include many illustrations and step by step directions and are perfect for someone who doesn’t know where they would even start with a coop building project.

lil red

Pre-made coops on the internet start at $200 a pop.  Add shipping and you’re looking at a pretty penny to get started raising chickens.  There are a number of free chicken coop plans floating around internetlandia.  They seem OK but none of them are even close to the amount of detail that the Chicken DIY Guide goes into.   Why would they be?  That’s a lot of work to give away for free.

One of the things I liked about the Chicken DIY guide was the extra material that they have packaged with the plans.  They have a guide to getting started with chickens, a chicken raising manual and even a glossary of chicken related terms.  If you have any interest in getting started raising chickens I would recommend the Chicken DIY guide.  I wish that we had known about it before we built our coop.  Knowing nothing at all about chickens when we started, it would have been nice to have some sort of information to refer to.  We could have saved ourselves a bunch of time and aggravation.

If you do get the guide and end up building a coop please let us know how it goes.  We want to see pictures!!

The first part of the guide talks about where to site your coop and how to protect your chickens.  The author talks about predators and all the sneaky ways they try to get at your birds.  We’ve learned the hard way that your coop and yard need to be very secure.  If you don’t do it right you’ll wake up to a chicken massacre.

One thing the guide doesn’t mention though is that you need to protect your birds from themselves too.  Aside from the schoolyard turf wars and the establishment of the pecking order there is another consideration.  Chickens are dumb and surprisingly, accident prone.  I’ve gone out to feed them and found a chicken who got her foot caught in a 1/2″ slot between two boards that make up the front of the laying boxes.  She was just hanging upside down for who knows how many hours.  I set her free and she shuffled away cackling and harumphing like “it’s about time!”  I bet she had a monumental case of pins and needles in her foot after that.

Molly: It’s happened twice hon!

Mike: Oops you’re right.  Might need to fix that slot.

Molly: fixed! The chicken I set free was limping for an hour.

Mike: Nice

An unexpected hazard for the meat chickens (who make the other ones look like bright lights) are cinder blocks.   We use cinder blocks to secure the edges of the chickens’ pen.  For some reason the chickens like to get down into holes of the cinder blocks.  Unfortunately for them they don’t seem to be able to get back out.  I’ve found chickens head down with their butts waggling in the air, chickens butt down with their heads poking up out of the blocks and everything in between.

Molly:  For those of you wondering why we don’t turn the cinder blocks on their sides here’s why:  Raccoons can reach through and pull the chickens out!  I’m working on my 5 th iteration of a meat chicken pen.

Slots between boards aren’t the only thing chickens can get hung up on. Once one of the Polish chickens ended up catching her toe on the broom that hangs in the coop.  She too ended up hanging upside down for a while.

Molly: This particular chicken has a ploom of feathers on her head and she’s the color of the broom.  It took me a minute to realize it was not just the broom hanging in the corner but a chicken hanging in front of it.  It was so strange.  The broom no longer resides in the coop.

The twine from straw bales seems to be an endless pitfall for them too.  Just yesterday we were looking for one of the ducks. Usually they travel in a pack but one was missing.  We could hear him but couldn’t see him.  Then Molly spotted him behind some trash cans.  He kept starting to pop out and then would pop back behind the cans.  So we kept calling him and he kept popping.  It turned out he had some twine looped around his neck.

Another time, years ago, we had a poor little runt chicken.  He started out small and had a deformed foot that curled under him.  We called him Gimpy.  He would limp around but he figured out how to survive.  When he was two years old I discovered him with a piece of twine wrapped around his foot and a stick tangled in the twine.  It had made an improv tourniquette. The string was so tight that I had trouble cutting it off.  His foot actually fell off a few days later but the bottom of his leg healed at the ankle just fine.  We called him Stumpy after that.  Stumpy lived a couple more years and didn’t seem to be bothered by his missing foot at all.  We only figured out that he was a he was a he the last year of his life when he started crowing.  We don’t know if he kept silent all those years as a camouflage to avoid conflict or if he was mysteriously transgendered.  At any rate Stumpy ended up being one of our longest lived chickens.

Molly:  You should write into the Chicken DIY Guide people  and tell them to add twine and brooms to there ‘what not to have in your coop’ list.

Mike:  Sometimes I think we are better at teaching ‘what not’ to do…

Molly:  It’s our niche!


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  1. Posted March 3, 2012 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    We’d be Chicken People if we only had an opportunity.  One my of long-term wishes is to get the city to change the stupid ordinance against livestock.  Time, time, all we need is time.
      Of course, if we’d move out to the hacienda, it’d be a different story.

    • Posted March 3, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I bet if you floated the idea you’d find lots of other people wanting to change the ordinance too.  Most of the anti-chicken rules are getting turned over these days since public sentiment has changed.  Another project, I know, but maybe you could cheerlead someone else to do it.

  2. Posted March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    We’re houshunting at the moment and my favorite house so far has a chicken coop on the property.  Are you surprised? Man, who knew chickens were that dumb. I mean, I don’t expect them to be doing trigonomentry equations or anything like that, but getting stuck in holes and on brooms? That’s too funny.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      You are one step closer to becoming a chicken mama!

  3. Posted March 21, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Okay, I bought the Chicken DIY guide and really like it. It is indeed very detailed which I want to have if I’m to pound out a coop in a weekend. I was pleased with the amount of detail and pictures it has. It’s very step by step and requires very little thinking, which is ideal for me.  My one knock on the kit is that it does not have a materials list at the beginning of the coop designs. It would be handy to know how many 2×4’s I really need before starting on my project.  I mean I can kind of estimate by counting everything up, but that would have made the plans even simpler.

    • Posted March 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

       My bad…the materials list is in the appendix.  I emailed their tech support and they got right back to me with what page it was on. I gotta say they have awesome technical support too

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Mike and I had the same reaction when we read your comment about the materials list; we both remembered they had one- strange place to put it though.  
        Our experience when we contacted them was the same- very fast! 

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