When we first became a chicken family in August of 2016, we had no idea the joy our girls would bring to our lives. We were excited for the prospect of fresh eggs, and knew from Tim’s sister, Mary, that chickens could be addicting — but we didn’t have any idea how amazing these birds are until we came home with our own little flock.
We started off with a tiny coop, which was perfect for getting started. Our first four girls, two Rhode Island Reds and two Cuckoo Marans, helped us learn the ropes of chicken keeping and taught us an understanding of chicken love — and loss, as we heartbreakingly lost our two Marans early on. Our Reds, Dolly and Loretta, continue to rule the roost and teach our newbies the way things are done around Brehmer Homestead.
By spring 2017, our starter coop had started to fall apart, and once our flock had grown to six, it was time for an upgrade. We searched the depths of Craigslist for weeks until we found just what we were looking for: the most beautiful coop, custom-made for us with Texas cedar.
Texas Cedar Shop offers a range of gorgeous, custom built chicken coops, playhouses, sheds, blinds, and more. They are a family-run company, were quick to respond to my emails, and delivered our coop to us and built it on site — not to mention they are Texans, so we were supporting our local economy. We loved working with them, and look forward to using them again (chicken coop expansion, anyone?!).
As our coop dreams grew, so did our passion for chickens. They are surprisingly smart, have distinct personalities, and are endlessly entertaining to be around. Dolly and Loretta have remained the friendliest, and love to sit on the arms of our outdoor chairs during Chicken Happy Hour (a Brehmer family tradition). Bertha and Joan are our biggest chickens with the most exotic feathers. Raven and Roadrunner were our first colored egg layers, and are named for the birds they looked like as pullets. We round out the flock with Cordelia, Queenie, and Misty Day (any American Horror Story fans reading?). Cordelia was gifted to us by our amazing chicken breeder, Steve, as she had been injured as a baby. We think she has spinal damage; her tail points down and she hops instead of running, which is just about the most endearing thing I’ve ever seen.
Now, for the details. Our coop is 8’x8′ with a 8’x6′ attached run. It has shutters, which are great for cold or rainy days, and came with one roost and four nest boxes. We added a second roost, but most of our girls (we now have nine, soon to be 12) sleep on the top roost. We lined the floor with linoleum, and we use sand bedding, which you can learn more about here.
The only thing I wish we had done differently was the size of the run. It’s fine for our every day — our girls free range from dawn to dusk — but if there is a day when we don’t want to let them out, it’s not enough room for them. Luckily, there is rarely a day when they have to stay inside, and we hope to expand the run in time.
Have any coop questions or chicken stories? Share them in the comments below!