A bunch of our friends in our rural community have always raised a few hens to provide their family with fresh eggs. When we first moved to our acreage on the Eastern Shore, we had a vague idea that it would be nice to also have three or four laying hens of our own at some distant point in the future, but it was hardly a burning desire. However, last autumn our neighbour offered us a great deal on his 14 new hens that were not getting along with his older flock, and after a bit of hemming and hawing, we decided to take the leap and become chicken owners! But first, we had to come up with a plan fast on how to set up a new coop quickly and cheaply.
Figuring out how to house the chickens was actually pretty simple, and we didn’t end up spending a dime. We had an unused and somewhat dilapidated greenhouse at the back of our yard which we realized would make a great chicken coop with a little bit of work. The greenhouse was insulated and had a passive venting system. My darling husband covered the old drywall old wooden doors that we acquired after a family member renovated, made some repairs to the floor, and set up some nesting boxes recycled from old Pop Shop plastic crates that we had found lying around our property. We were given some second hand water troughs and feeders from another family member who used to raise chickens. We also acquired a large chainlink enclosure that my mother in law had used as a dog run and dug it into the ground adjacent to the new coop so that our chickens could have access to a larger outdoor space.
Once we finally had the new coop watertight, the chicken run covered with a tarp for some protection from the elements, and the floor covered with a thick layer of wood shavings, it was time to bring the hens home. I admit, we were a little nervous about letting them outside to roam free at first. Everybody assured us that the chickens would automatically come home as soon as it got dark, but just to make sure, we kept them cooped up for a few days just to make sure they knew where their new home was. They were so happy when we finally let them outside to roam around to dig up worms in the garden and roll around in the dirt!
We’re not exactly sure what breed they are – our neighbour was told they were Rhode Island Reds, but after a bit of research we decided that they were more likely Golden Comets, since their colouring was a little more golden than the dark russet colour of Rhode Island Reds. Whatever they are – they’ve been fabulous producers and we get 13 or 14 delicious eggs a day. This has truly been an adventure in local food for us!