I am obsessed with chickens. Really. For the past two months, I've been raising five baby chicks. As I try to sleep at night, I can only think about how to make their lives better, safer, happier. I lay there in bed drawing creations for a second coop door to the orchard, an elaborate electrical fence to keep out predators, or a lavish "shade shelter" for them to hide under during the harsh daylight hours.
I have in fact followed through with a few of these plans. For one, I created a second door. This is more than a mere aesthetic improvement. The chicks have gotten big and fast and squirrely. They can no longer use the garden-side door because, when we let them out, they dig up our crops (and I can't catch them anymore). Now that there's a second door facing the orchard, they can get out and frolic without messing up the garden crops. (They know to go back into the coop at night.)
The second door:
And I also installed an electric fence. Two chickens were stolen by a night-time predator last year. So far, this season, we haven't seen the slightest sign of malfeasance from other creatures.
Here's one of my future projects: a shade shelter with a hay loft, a perch network for perching, and another hanging food canister.
Here are some more chick pictures (who my mother calls her "grandchildren").
Below is Patience, our adult chicken. Unfortunately, all the chickens cannot live peacefully together quite yet. It's Patience's instinct to violently peck them, so, for now, the chicks--at night--get the bottom compartment of the coop and Patience gets the top. They all use the orchard during the daytime, and luckily there's enough room in there for the chicks to evade Patience's attacks.
Thirty seconds of chicken goodness: