Phase one would be coop construction, scheduled to begin this Friday. Gavin had suggested that my coop be located on the back fence of our property, which would make it extremely visible, both from my living room and my backyard. I wasn't thrilled with the idea, so I told Gavin that the coop needed to be cute. Nay, really cute. My backyard is my favorite part of my nest; I need it to be pretty. "No problem" said he.
Now as you all know, I've been doing quite a bit of research on "project chicken. " (One might say obsessive research about project chicken, if one were in a judgmental frame of mind) So in advance of our start date, I sent Gavin an email with some questions about the design of the coop. There were certain features that I knew from my research that I wanted in a coop, or at least wanted to discuss before we got started. (Opinions? Me? Never!) To answer these questions, Gavin said that the design would be really cute, and a lot like his coop. He attached photos for my reference. I opened the photos with great excitement and anticipation.
I was flabbergasted. Not only was the coop in the photos not cute, it was shoddily done. Chicken wire sagged. Wire stuck out from the cage, ready to rip at tender human flesh. The doors didn't fit properly. The roof was warped. The run didn't even have a frame, it consisted merely of chicken wire stapled to upright posts with no cross pieces. It was devoid of personality, AND it was poorly done. Sigh.
Even more disturbing was the fact my chicken-coop expert used chicken wire at all. Many of the resources I consulted made special mention that a good coop uses nothing with holes larger than hardware cloth. You see, chicken wire is not predator proof. It's true that a predator like a raccoon can't get a chicken out through chicken wire...intact. But they do try, and often succeed, in taking parts of the chicken out through the small holes. What a gruesome end to Cluckers!
And so, with a heavy heart, I fired TBFP/PJ. They are brand new, just figuring things out, and may one day do good work. But for now, I have to classify them as good intentions/poor execution, great theory/poor practice. Sigh!
So, now, plan B. My dearest husband helped me troll craigslist, and select a locally-made coop that we both like. It's cute, well designed, (hardware cloth on every vent), reasonably priced, and appears to be very well made. But I ain't buyin it till I see it in person!
We even found a good place to stash it in the garden...a dead space that gets plenty of shade, and will allow the girls a good bit of roaming room. Incidentally, the new location is NOT on the back fence. I can look at the coop from my living room if I want to, but it won't be the first thing I see every time I walk in!
As for the rest of my food growing (Lettuce, oh, yes, lettuce!) well, that may take me a bit longer now that I don't have professional help. But I am undaunted! I'm just going to have to take my urban farming challenges one at a time.