Small Wonders and Big Smiles

August 4th, 2010

The other morning I awoke to a light fog… beautiful and mysterious. My hope soared that it would be a cool, cloudy day… but then I saw the blue sky through the mist- I knew the sun would be blazing.

It was very warm outside, and the humidity has reached so high that you start sweating as you stroll around the yard. Yesterday the temperature pushed a bit over 100 F… but there were cooler refuges in the house or basement thankfully.

Yesterday I finally finished the chicken nest boxes! I was mulling over various options- buying some online, or maybe using milk crates or something. I had this nagging feeling that I really needed to finish them because in a few weeks the chickens would be ready to lay eggs.

So with morning gusto and three cups of coffee I just dove in to what I’d been putting off, and started building something…. anything… boards flying everywhere, the circular saw zipping through wood (carefully!), and hammers sending nails flinging across the garage floor.

The boy helped hold things in place and gave his opinions… He doesn’t think he helps, but he does! He even put a few nails and screws in. I was on a roll, and scraps of osb (along with a few muttering sob’s), pieces of siding and 2×4’s came in handy.   Before lunch rolled around we came up with this:

I kind of like how it came out, at least I hope so for a chicken!  I’m not sure they’re deep enough, but it stands on four legs and we went out to put it in the coop.   Fit pretty well at the height I wanted for the outer door.  I fiddled around, moving the feeder to the middle of the coop and tweaking it a bit.   Ok… tweaking a lot!  That’s what happens when you’re going on instinct.  Maybe some plans would’ve been easier.   When I first started, I didn’t know there were sites like this one.  I would have used it to help with planning.

Build Your Own Chicken Coop

And back to our story, wouldn’t you know that after putting some pine-shaving bedding material in the next box, our little Brownie hen jumped right in there!  She seemed to like it…  I was surprised, because they say it’s a “learned experience” by the hens, but they also like private, dark little places.

I couldn’t resist adding a few golf balls to the nests to help the chickens get the right idea… they seemed quite interested and made funny little clucking sounds.    I walked outside to check the fit…

Looked pretty good, if not a bit silly with golf balls!  I’m still not sure the inside opening for the hens to get into the box is big enough, or if the nest is “deep” enough for them.   Then I thought “What if they don’t even use the nest boxes!”   Oh well.  Which probably will be true… they’ll lay eggs anywhere at times I’m sure.

It was a busy day though- and after the boy and I weeded the garden for a bit he kept peeking in the nest box door to see what was going on.   He found one of the red hybrid hens sitting in a nest and giggled.   It looked like another chicken or two had been poking in the boxes but we weren’t sure.   Later that afternoon the boy wanted to “go check for eggs” again (for the umpteeth time)… so there we go.

Guess what we found?

The boy opened the nest box door… and his eyes grew wide and we both stared… he was speechless! I was speechless!  Then he said, “Daddy look! It’s an egg!”

Yep.  Would you believe that in a few hours after I put the nest boxes in that coop that a chicken laid a magical, beautiful, hard little egg right in that middle nest box?!?!?!    Our first egg! I couldn’t believe it.  And it was a “shack”… bombing lingo for a bullseye.   I  looked around to see if the Easter Bunny was hiding in the bushes.

We took it in the house and marveled with excitement… our first egg!  So then of course we thought we better look for more… he had to call his Memaw too, and while she was on the phone, lo and behold he found another egg inside the coop on the floor!  “Okay ladies, who missed the nest boxes!?”

Well, maybe a good omen that our first egg ended up in the nest box?  I hope so… I’d rather not rummage around the coop.  The boy loves it for now- and I hope it lasts.   I’d sure love to keep watching an automatic-egg-gatherer in action :)

Two eggs on the very day I put the nest boxes in.   I love it when a plan comes together, and maybe that nagging feeling paid off…  or those golf balls worked really well!  Or maybe the girls just humored me.   ‘Course we haven’t had any other eggs in the past day or so, but the chickens are only going on 17 weeks now. A few weeks more and they should really start laying.

They seem to enjoy their coop and run.   I haven’t let them out running around as much lately, but each day we throw in weeds, grass and a mix of scratch with corn and millet.  They seem to be just fine- even with the heat.  They seek the shade, and stay in the coop until the afternoon shades the front a bit more.   After they get in a strong routine of laying eggs, I’ll let them outside more often.   We still have that extra rooster if you’re looking for one… :)

Yesterday morning I had the cutest, tiny poached egg… and the boy had one scrambled. Pretty darn good. Not a very good fiscal return on the money invested, but hey it’s a lifetime of lessons, right?  I’d say that’s a better return than anything else.

That’s the big news around here…  small wonders and big smiles.   I need a few more of those in my life :)


After this week’s heat, I’m going to take a blogging break and spend a week or two roaming with the boy, perhaps up north (that’s why we had to get those nest boxes finished!).   Maybe we’ll up towards Michigan where the nights are cool… I’ll check in a time or two and wrote a couple posts that will publish automatically, but I hope everyone can find a little cool refuge this month too!

12 Responses to “Small Wonders and Big Smiles”

  1. I really like this post. My dad made something similar for my chickens with the back flap for easy egg retrieval. Before you know it, you’ll be getting double-yolks all the time. The golf balls are funny.

  2. Congrats! Everything looks great. I think the golf balls do help somewhat. I know that “build something… anything…” feeling. :)

  3. congratulations on your first eggs! i love your chicken house with its red paint. what a nice set up. have fun on your vacation–can’t wait to see your posts!

  4. Congratulations on the “fruits” of your (and your hens) labor! :)

  5. Have fun and take lots of photos, and congrats on the eggs!


  6. Congratulations! Loved this post. I have a friend and a blog-friend with chickens which has made me want some. My husband says it’s too hard in the Hill Country with foxes and raccoons and coyotes and bobcats. And he doesn’t want to build nest boxes or coops or fences.

    So I’m going to enjoy your chickens. Have a great holiday.

    I added Fox Have to Hill Country Mysteries blogroll yesterday. My friends will enjoy reading you.

  7. Ed

    I suspect just seeing the light in your boy’s eyes was worth the cost of the chickens, house and nesting boxes.

    Have a good trip up north. Honk if you drive by my place.

  8. Can you get good clean old fashioned grain for them in the Winter.

    Oh I forgot to mention that a lightening rod on the bigger building might be a good thing.

  9. Jo

    I heard about your endeavor and success from Memaw. How fun! What a wonderful experience for all of you. Enjoy the “rewards”!

  10. Hi all- Just a quick one from the road… Thanks much for all the kind comments… we did get two more eggs yesterday before leaving! I wonder which hens they are from :)

  11. Congratulations!! Ya’ll have fun out roaming and find some coolness too!

  12. Nice post. I’ve been looking for nesting box options. I am so glad I found your post. I’ve added a link to my blog https://brighamcitychickens.blogspot.com/2012/04/nesting-boxes.html.


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