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Ride Easy: Catherine’s chicken jail

Jun 13, 2023Jun 13, 2023

Catherine's Mom liked chickens. She had chicken pictures, dish ware, curtains and I don't know what all. The few years I knew her, she didn't have live chickens, but had in the past. At one of the last birthdays we celebrated with her, she was given a chicken hat. When you squeezed a certain spot on one wing, the chicken cluicked and its wings flapped. Everyone there wore it.

Well, her love for chickens was handed down to Catherine. There are chicken pictures etc. on the walls and shelves.

Eventually, we got chickens. We started with six, expecting one or two might not make it. We didn't figure on Catherine's protective, mothering ability. They all survived, and we have had chickens of various breeds and colors since. The chicken house, that I call Catherine's chicken jail, started out as a simple little chicken house. Nooooo, that is a misnomer. I mentioned Catherines protectiveness.

We live in Estes Park, CO. There are all sorts of wild animals to contend with. We enjoy having them around and relish seeing the various animals. But, some of those animals like to eat chickens. The original chicken coop had one inch chicken wire underneath the dirt floor of a tiny building we turned into a chicken coop. We had chicken wire on all sides and the top of the building to keep bobcats and other chicken eaters out. We often let them out on the lawn to eat bugs, worms and grass. When they were out, one of us kept a pretty close eye on them.

We started with six leghorns and one died. The neighbor, early one morning, called and asked how many chickens we had. I said five. He said I should count again. He had just seen a bobcat cross the road with a white chicken in its mouth. Sure enough, we only had four. An inspection of the chicken house found a small, perhaps six inch, hole in a top corner, hidden under the roof. The bobcat somehow found it and became a chicken thief. Time for a major overhaul of the chicken coop.

We added an "A" frame runway with one wall of the "A" made of heavy wire with quarter-inch holes. There is a plastic tarp rolled up on top that can be unrolled to keep it dry. We also built an egg box on the outside of the main room, with the appropriate ladder for the chickens to walk up, settle in to and lay their eggs. The top of the egg box lifts so we get the eggs easily. We kept the heat lamp, water and feed containers as they were.

We found, for free, five dog kennel panels, five by eight feet, one included a gate. That became the outside area where they take dirt baths and we feed their scratch. One panel became the top.We still let them out on the lawn. After we covered the front with cedar boards ,a metal sunflower and added a window to the main room, we christened it "Casa de Pollo."

Catherine still has her mothers chicken hat.


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