The Crew and the Coop.

I thought I would take this time and dedicate a post to the beginning of the Kuntry Klucker Crew. I will also combine this post with the construction of their coop. I have received many comments on Facebook and other social media sites inquiring about our blueprints or plans that we used build their digs. To tell you the truth, we had no plans or blue prints. We also did not use a kit, we simply researched on what they needed, got the supplies and built what we could.

But first the crew. I mentioned in another post that the girls arrived via the mail in a small box. I am not kidding, they really did arrive in a small box, it was the cutest things I ever saw. I have never ordered chicks before, so this was a new one for me. I have ordered live plants via the mail that were delivered to my door, but never chicks. Below is a pic of their transportation digs.

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It was a cold morning when they arrived. I could not wait to get the contents of the peeping box unpacked and transfered into their warm brooder.

After bring them inside I took them out of the box one by one, showed them their food and water then set them down softly into their brooder. Immediatly they began to eat, drink, and warm themselves under the heat lamp. They scratched, peeped, and took in their surroundings, and thus our journey began.

My brooder was origionally a large , grey, rubber made tote, which did not last long. As they grew, so did their digs. Instead of getting a new brooder I just added to it as they needed.

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So as one living space got too small, I would cut hole in the box and attach on another box. By the time it was all said and done they had a network of several boxes to navigate through. It was almost like a brooder palace by the time I attached the final box.

They pretty much had a house and floor plan complete with rooms. Lets see, there was the room (box) with the food and water (kitchen), the room (box) with the heat lamp (lets call that the living room), and a room (box) for gathering (we can call that the recreation room). The brooder was quite a network of boxes. They seemed to navigate it well and had lots of fun scratching in all the shavings and running throughout their digs. The brooder days were fun, but they could not stay in there forever. So, while they were growing and discovering, we were busy building their new home in the backyard.

Our coop and pen are pretty much a very simple design. We have a penthouse coop, or a coop that is raised off the ground by about 2 feet. This keeps ground water from seeping into the coop and rodents from chewing into the coop or making a nest under it. I like this design, especially during seasons when we seem to get a lot of rain. Their pen has flooded several times and each time I am so glad they were clean and dry in their coop.

Once the coop was built, we then attached the pen.  The pen is just a simple rafter design which we attached to the coop. After we assembled all the wood forming the roof and frame, we then enclosed the whole structure with hardware cloth and galvanized metal fencing. This protects the girls from predators and also keeps them from escaping out of the pen. The roof of the pen also has metal fencing, this is to keep anything from flying or dropping into the pen. They girls are very secure in their pen. When I am not home they stay safe and dry in their pen. I will also confine them to their pen if there is an unusual amount of hawk or other arial bird of prey activity. We have had several occasions where I had to keep them in the pen to discourage a scouting hawk or two. The girls seem to take it in stride, they know they are safe in their house.

For the roof we just use a large tarp. This provides them shade and of course protection from the rain and other elements. Since the top of the pen has metal fencing, we did not need to add the extra expense of building an actually roof. The tarp does the job well. We replace it every other year or so to keep it in good condition. It does start to ware out after a few years. They are fairly cheap and very durable. This design meets both our budget and needs of the girls.

After we had the pen built and attached to the coop, it was time to paint and decorate. I chose to paint their coop and pen door a barn red. I then painted the trim white. I knew from the beginning when we decided to have chickens that I wanted an Americana theme for their home. It has been a work in progress and has morphed as the years have gone by. It took some time find the decorations and accents that I wanted for their home. After several years I finally had the complete project. I repaint the coop about ever other year. I do this to keep the wood in good condition and protected from the elements. We change out screws and wood in the pen as needed.

The design for their front door is our unique take on allowing them access to the backyard. At the bottom of the large door leading into the pen you see a small pet door. We call this the “chicken door”, this allows us to let them out of their pen without having to keep the large human size door open. I do this to discourage birds and other arial prey from flying into the pen. If there is a hawk scare the girls will run back to their pen and find safely there because the hawk cannot follow them in. Additionally, we cut out a heart window at their level to allow them to see out the door.

This was my husbands idea and by far my favorite design feature of their home. I think it is just the cutest thing to see them peering at me as I make my way to see them. When I unlock the latch to let them out, I usually get a willing head to assist me in working the lock. The door just lifts up and latches onto the large pen door to keep it open.

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That is all I have for now. If you have any questions about our coop that you would like an answer to, please post in the comments. As always, thanks for following our adventures.

~The Kuntry Klucker Crew.~

 

 

Roy the Rooster

I thought I would dedicate a post to my resident rooster, Roy. When I tell people that I have chickens I am usually asked two questions. one, how many chickens do I have, and two, do I have a rooster? For many people all they know about roosters are the horror stories passed down by previous generation of a fearsome barnyard bird.

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I will say, that when I am not in the backyard Roy rules the yard but in a good way. You see he keeps watch over the girls as they graze and go about their day of hunting and pecking. He keeps a sharp eye for predators that could harm the girls, if he senses a danger he will then sound the alarm sending the girls running for cover. He will then take his position as the sacrifice for the girls in the yard.

Luckily, the only danger that Roy and I have to worry about is something arial in nature. My backyard is fenced in by a 6 foot wood privacy fence, so most four legged threats are denied access to their ranging grounds. Only an arial attack would be a threat to my flock. However, I do have a story about this that is very interesting that I will share with you later.

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So now, back to Roy. Where did and I get him and how does your basic backyard rooster behave? I ordered my flock as chicks from a reputable breeder. I ordered 16 hens and 1 rooster. They arrived in a box as little yellow balls of peeping fluff. The only way I could tell Roy from the rest of the girls was a blue mark on his head (sharpie marker) administered by the breeder so I could identify our barnyard boy. Below is Roy’s baby picture, he was about a week old here, and already he had a look of command.

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From the beginning Roy was a little bit different than the others. I could not say that if he did not have his mark that I could single him out as the rooster till he matured more. But I will say, that even in the brooder he was the boss. He was not mean to the girls or anything, he just had a demeaner about him that demanded respect.

Well as the chicks grew he began to show his rooster features, a large comb, waddle, and finally a crow. The first time I heard him crow was so funny. I remember it well. I was filling the feeders in the morning, talking to the girls when all at once I heard this noise come from Roy. It was not a cock-a-doodle-doo like you normally picture a rooster belting. But more of a cock-a-chock-caugh-squeek. It was the funniest thing I ever heard. I remember looking up and saying Roy, “what was that”? Well after a few days he got his crow worked out and now he sounds like your typical rooster.

Roy is the first rooster that I ever personally had. I have seen roosters and been around them growing up, but never actually owned one till now. Honestly, I was nervous, I knew that they could be aggressive and even down right nasty. But I also knew that other people had them and treated them like cuddle bugs. I had no idea how one could even pick up a rooster let alone be friends with it. Well on the heals of that I did some research and found the secret to raising roosters. It is not about making friends with it, but actually training him to see you as the alpha rooster, positioning yourself at the top of the pecking order.

You see chickens are highly social animals and understand social order and their particular place with the pecking order. All the girls know each other, and they all know who is above who and who is below who. Roy ultimately being the alpha or at the top of the pecking order. Well, that is till I come into the backyard, than I am alpha rooster.

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You see from a very early age I had to train Roy that I was the alpha rooster, I basically had to treat Roy like an alpha rooster would treat a beta (second in command) rooster. I did not hurt him or anything, it was simple, subtle things that roosters understand. Such as, if he tried to come too close to me when I was out feeding the girls I would take a few large stomping steps towards him letting him know that he was getting too close to the alpha rooster. This told him that I was in command and that he needed to keep a respectful distance. I would pick him up and carry him around for a little bit as I talked to the girls. This showed him that I could physically dominate him without causing him any harm.  I would then release him after a while and allow him to reassemble with the girls. As we grew, I would then feed him treats and so forth which he we then distribute to the girls. This way he not only saw me as the alpha rooster, but also as the provider for their needs.

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I have never had a problem with him attacking me. He did try to challenge me once, but that is about it. I will have to say with a lot research, work, and understanding of chicken behavior, I have the best behaved rooster I could ever wish for. Honestly, I will have to say he is my helper in the backyard. He takes care of the girls for me when I cannot be in the backyard with them.

Ok, now I will share with you a story of Roy in action. A several years ago, I was inside doing housework and heard Roy crowing relentlessly. It is normal for him to crow on and off during the day but to just crow and crow and crow was rather unusual. If he crows like that something is not right or possibly even dangerously wrong. So, in a hurry I put my boots on and ran to the backyard to see what had Roy so upset. The first thing I noticed upon going outside was several large birds circling over my backyard. My heart sank because I expected to see one or more of the girls torn to pieces in the backyard. But to my shocking surprise, Roy was planning to take the hawks on single handily.

You see, he had given the warning and the girls ran and were huddled under the large shade tree next to their coop. Roy was in the middle of the backyard acting like a distraction to detour the hawks attention to him and not the girls. The crowing that I heard inside was him crowing at the hawks reading himself for the attack. When I got to the backyard and realizes the reality of the situation I grabbed the closest thing I could find and waved it in the air. I must have looked really dumb to anyone passing by, but I was backup for my rooster. I grabbed a hoe that was leaning against the coop and waved it in the air scaring the hawks off. They left screeching I assume disappointed that their dinner was protected. Roy, after the hawks flew off looked at me with a sigh of relief. That day I gained to much respect for him, his nature, and his ability to protect my girls. I knew then and there that he was indeed the best rooster I could ever hope for.

Had I not heard his battle cry, I hate to think what would happen to him. I know that he had no chance against 3 hungry hawks, I am sure he knew that too. But regardless he took his position and readied for a battle the he would loose at the cost of protecting the girls. I have never seen such love and devotion in an animal before. He really is my prize jewel of the backyard. Now whenever I hear his battle cry I do not hesitate and come to his aid. So far we have evaded, several hawks and a few turkey buzzards. I will have to say that we make a pretty good team.

For this reason, whenever I am away from the house, I make sure they are secure in the pen. When I get home, if the weather is good I will let them out into the yard. But I always keep an ear open for Roy’s crow. He will let me know and call me if something is wrong or if he needs backup.

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So here is to what having a rooster is really like. If you raise them well, take the time to understand them and their nature, and assert yourself as both their provider and supervisor they will respect you and be your biggest allie in the flock. Roosters are not the horror stories of yesteryear. Yes they are roosters and they do have a job to do which they take rather seriously. However, when raised will with love and care they are one of the most amazing creatures and worthy of all the respect they deserve.

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So here is to my Roy Boy, you are indeed the man.

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Thank for reading and following along our adventures. Tell next time, keep on crowing.

The Kuntry Klucker Crew

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Deck the Coop.

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The girls and I had a little fun today as we decorated their digs today for the holidays. They were not too sure of the lights at first, but they thought that the bows tasted quite good.

You see, they get excited whenever I come out to the coop carrying something. They think that I am brining a yummy treat for them to devour. With my hands full, I could not manage a treat, so they decided that the decorations would be just as good. yea… not so much. They pecked at the bows and finally decided that they were not as good as they looked. Anyhow, after a few nasty looks from the gang they realized that I was up to something else fun. Thus the onlookers began to assemble.

This is the first year that I have decorated their coop with lights. I usually put a wreath on their door and a stocking for Santa to fill with treats on their coop. But last year when the wreath fell down and they decided that it was a good thing to lay eggs in. So, I did not try to argue with that kind of chicken logic. After all, now I know where I can expect to find all the eggs that they layed for the day. Most of the girls lay them in the coop, but I have one or two girls that like to think outside the box so to speak. They like to make me work for the eggs and send me on an egg hunt. The Christmas weather kind of solved that problem, but this year I decided to step it up and bring some exterior illumination to their digs.

Their reaction to the light strand when it lit up was quite entertaining. I had it stretched out on the ground while I worked the tangles that most lights are in when packaged in the box. I got the extension cord drug out to the coop and attached to the pen so they cannot peck at it. Anyway while I was away they inspected all the lights, but when I plugged them in they were startled by the sudden illumination coming from the dead thing on the ground. This is their first experience with Christmas lights so we will see how they take to them.

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Roy as always is not impressed when I mess with his digs. Even a good spring coop cleaning is something that he actively protests with a serenade of crowing. I am not too sure if its the leaf blower that I use to get all the dust out, the water that I spay in the coop to clean well, or the fact that I am rearranging the furniture. But anyhow he is not a fan of me messing with his pad. So of course he was not a big fan of decoration day. After all was said and done, he inspected and decided that the lights were not a threat and thus acceptable. His expression in the pic is just precious, he is a character like none other. The girls however are cool with the festive decor like any women would be.

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With the coop decorated and the girls officially ready for Santa, we hope that he finds that they have been good this year. Last year Santa brought them a bag of knock out scratch and a package of meal worms. We will see what Santa leave for them this year. Santa has a soft spot for chickens.

Well that is it for our adventures for now, I hope you enjoyed our story.

The Girls want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and an Egg-celent New Year!!

Thanks for following our adventures, see you next time. Till then, take care and keep on crowing.

The Kuntry Klucker Crew

 

 

A Kuntry Klucker Christmas

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Hey there again, the girls and I have a winter’s tale to share.

Last year we had the most snow that I have ever seen here in these hills in about 10 or so years. We were battered with two ice storms then several snow storms all within a span of a few weeks. When it was all said and done, we had an accumulation of 12 inches of snow on the ground. Now most people know that farm animals are all weather, not much seems to bother them. Well for my pampered poultry this was not the case. You see, I found out that my girls hate snow. They are scared to death of it. The white stuff might as well be an enemy that needs immediate extermination. I make sure the they are protected from predators in both their coop and pen. But snow, I can do nothing about. So,  after a few days of being cooped up (quite literally), I decided to try to get them out of their coop and pen for some fresh air. The result was as funny as can be.

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First, after I plowed my way to the coop, I had to convince the girls that the snow was not going to kill them. Upon getting to the coop I found this, Miss Betsy trying to get as far away from the nemesis white stuff as possible. She would not even put her pampered pedies on the pen floor, which was dry except for the parts near the edges where the snow had drifted in.

Next, I had to lure them out with their favorite treat. Scratch! Chicken scratch is a treat from the gods, they love this stuff. They practically fall over each other when I come out the the coop with a cup full of their choice eats.

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Miss Bossy was our brave taker, she cautiously approached her favorite treat laying in the dreaded white stuff. As the others watched carefully  to make sure that it was not going to kill her. Eventually they too ever so cautiously started to approach.

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After some time the rest of the gang got the idea that the white stuff was not a complete threat. The power of the scratch was just too strong. So the girls started coming out one by one. They are still not too sure about the stuff, so for a while they pecked at it and scratched in it finally deeming it safe to take the plunge.

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The sole brave taker again was Miss Bossy who took the plunge, wading in snow that covered her legs. If you have ever seen a chicken attempt to walk in deep snow, it is quite a funny sight. So while the girls are taking the snow in stride, Roy on the other hand is thoroughly convinced that he needs to somehow exterminate the white stuff. Since he is terrified of the white stuff, he decided that a decent growing was in order.

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For the first day, this was as brave as Roy got. He stood in the door way and restlessly crowed at the white stuff. After he finally decided that his efforts were to no avail he finally accepted his defeat. He stayed in the pen the rest of the day sulking. After all tomorrow is a new day, right? Well…

Meanwhile more snow fell the following night and the girls decided they had enough of the white stuff and refused to come out of the pen. So I decided to plow paths for them to walk on in the backyard. Apparently they do not like the feel of the snow on their feet. Come to think about it, I don’t think I would like it either. So with my snow shovel in hand I cleared several paths for the girls to walk on. I had no idea at the time, but this turned out to be the funniest thing ever.

You see, once I cleaned them a few paths they would only go as far as the path would take them. In other words, when the path ends the chickens stopped. Well, on the heels of that I plowed them a maze in the backyard. It was the funniest thing ever, I still regret not getting a video of the girls working the backyard maze. However, I did snap a few pics that day, below are pics of the girls trying to figure out how to navigate the maze in the backyard.

I will have to say that they failed miserably. They could not understand why they could not get back to the coop once they got fairly far into the maze. They would take a path and get stuck because it lead nowhere. Since they refused to walk in the snow they would bottle neck at a dead end. So after a while to help them out, I put a trail of scratch on the paths of the maze that would lead back to the coop. They took to that pretty fast, so after that for the rest of the white stuff’s visit they would only walk on those paths of the maze. It was quite an experiment in testing the chickens ability to learn, remember, and problem solve.

We will see what this winter brings but if we get more snow I will be prepared again to plow them a maze to solve. This time I will make sure I get a video of the fun and games. When it snows some people build snowmen, me I go into the chicken maze creating business. Ok, well I guess I did help build one snowman last year.

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Thanks for reading, The girls and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and an Egg-celent New Year.

Till next time, keep on crowing.

The Kuntry Klucker Crew

 

 

Welcome to the Coop.

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Hi, well I guess I should introduce myself and give you a bit of info on the purpose of this blog. My name is Noelle and I guess you could tell by the images, I am a backyard chicken keeper. I started my journey about 5 years ago when I wanted some chickens to help me on my hobby farm. Now most people when they think of chickens, they think of eggs. Well, that is definitely a plus of having your own hens in your backyard. However, I was thinking of them more of composers and garden associates.

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They make the best compost (poop) in their coop all winter long, which I then spread on my gardens in early spring. The plants love their coop shavings and in return give me a nice yield. But, even better, chickens make great exterminators, they will eat just about anything that flies, craws, or hops in the backyard. I don’t have to use all the dangerous pesticides that I normally would because I have my feathered exterminators to do that for me. But most of all I would have to say they are my best friends in the backyard. I cannot work in the garden with out one of my girls there looking for any grubs that I might have uncovered. They are great friends to have when I do my garden work, and make such attractive yard ornaments as they go about their days work of eating bugs, tilling, and clucking with glee when they find something delicious.

In this blog, I plan to share with you the joy of keeping chickens. When I tell people that I have chickens as pets, I get lots of different responses. Some think I am crazy to keep chickens as pets. They are mostly seen as live stock animals that are void of all compassion and emotion. I am here to say put that myth to bed. I also get response of curiosity, when people think of chickens they think of the poor sad looking things in cages. They do not think of chickens as being attractive or even fun. I too will dispel the myth that chickens cannot make loving pets. But before I go to far I should probably introduce the flock and explain the name behind my blog.

 

Our coop is called The Kuntry Klucker. I chose this spelling because I thought it was fun and different. I like to be original and this name just fit. We live in the country and of course there is lots of “klucking” going on. So nope, I did not misspell the name of my blog, the spelling was intentional.

The gang consists of 12 hens and 1 Rooster named Roy. Roy is a character, he loves figs, spaghetti, and corn. I am the only one who can go out the the coop and pick him up. Everyone else he deems is an enemy that must be exterminated. This even includes my own family members. He has mellowed out some as the years have gone by, he has never attacked anyone, he just like to crow at them and pretend that he is a fearsome bird.

He is really the sweetest rooster I have ever known. I am not sure what I would do without him. I love to wake up in the morning to him greeting the dawn. He runs like clock work, an alarm clock that never goes out of power or relies on batteries. I never knew the joy of roosters till I had him. He is the king of the backyard.

Now for the girls. As I said I have a dozen hens which I affectionally call “my girls”. We have…

Miss Bossie (The alpha hen) I will get to more of her later

Miss Katie (The forever broody mama) more on her later too

Miss Sweet Pea (The prize personality hen) more on her later too

Miss Little bit

Miss Little Pea

Miss Lady

Miss Betsy

Miss Piggy (The hungriest Hen) she is always eating

Miss Liberty

Miss Lady Bug

Miss Tennessee

Miss Lucy Goosie

Now most people ask me how I tell them all apart. Well, I have a little secret. I dress my hens up, that is right, they all wear the latest in Hen Fashions. I do it because it protects their back from the rooster but also acts like a name tag.

 

Yep, that is right my girls wear dresses!! They love their outfits and protest when I take them off for washing. They each have their own individual personalities and I try to match the outfit to it. For example, here is Miss Sweet Pea, she is the smallest of all the hens, and the sweetest. However, she is also a flight risk. You see, she is so light that if we get a big gust of wind it is not uncommon for her to ride the wind over my 6 foot wooden privacy fence. I have to make sure she stays in the pen on really windy days or days when we have severe weather because she will ride the wind. So her outfit always has butterflies because she is a free spirit.

Pea in the garden

Now Miss Katie, she is my perpetual momma hen. She loves sit on egg and hatch babies. She has hatched two clutches for me. She is the best momma and has earned her name as the Momma Hen. She is blind in one eye, has been since hatching but that does not stop her.

Than we have Miss Bossie, she is the alpha hen. What this means is, she is at the top of the pecking order just under Roy. I am sure you have all head about the pecking order of chickens. They are very social animals and have a rigid social structure. Everyone know their place within the hierarchy. They compete for their position and must hang on to it. Well Miss Bossie has climbed to the top. She is also my bad girl, well in a funny sense. She is my escape artist my “hen-didi”. If there is a breach in the coop security, she will find it. But she is also my helper in that I use her to make their coop safer by securing up escape routs. So for that reason she has skulls on her outfit. There is one outlaw in every barnyard and well she is ours.

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I have many more chicken adventures to share. But for now I will stop here, it has occurred to me that it is snack time. I am late so Roy is letting me know with his constant calling (crowing) for treats. Speaking of treats, that is a subject of much entertainment, chickens love treats. I will post about that next time.

Till next time take care, and keep on crowing. The girls and I will be back soon!!

The Kuntry Klucker Crew

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