Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chick Flicks are the New BH&G

Warning: I am participating in a Hen House Hop and I'm about to tell a story of a crazy old women and the things that fascinate her. If you like chickens, you might like the story.  If not, well, you still might like the story. Here goes...

When our four girls were young I would jokingly tell them that it was time to pick up the house -- just in case Better Homes and Gardens showed up to do a photo-shoot.  My camera-like eyes were always panning the layout to make pretty pictures in our home.  Last year on Mother's Day the girls, now adults, gave me a camera. For the first time in my life I was able to preserve some of the vignettes my eyes were seeing.

Little did I know that the real camera would have an appetite for chick flicks.

Four new girls moved into our backyard.  Their "home" fit nicely into a corner that had recently been renovated to be a wedding backdrop for daughter number three.
At first, the 5x5x8 coop gave them plenty of room to eat, sleep, perch and play.  But as they grew bigger I realized this would not be enough space.  I used an old folding baby playpen to let them have a romp outside the coop. They liked this so much, I decided to make it more permanent and the coop renovation process began.

The love of my life, My Prince, often brings me gifts from landscape-land.  He had recently brought me some flower stalks, cut from several Yucca plants. He knows me well! His gift was better than roses! I sprayed the 4- 6 foot stalks Rustoleum Eden Green and wired them to the playpen. Did I forget to mention that he was not very happy about the chickens coming to live with us?  My Prince wouldn't have anything to do with the birds and their "creepy feet," which left me constructing on my own. The result was a bit shanty-like.

Regardless of  the wabi sabi (beautifully imperfect) nature of my expanding coops and pens, my camera snapped vignettes to share with new friends on Facebook -- friends who understood me. My Chicken Peeps, as I call them, would encourage me to explore and develop this new fascination.

These friends were cheering me on when, one summery day, I went to the feed store and came home with two peeping pullets. Adding these new birds to the flock necessitated a temporary coop, so I "borrowed" what I call the ugly duckling, a rabbit hutch that daughter number one had found on Craig's List.  Of course, it needed a bit of a lift.

So out came the Eden Green paint and the leftover trim from our office renovation, as well as a few other things around the yard. (By the way, she said I can keep it now.)

Miraculously, I came upon some leftover deer fencing when emptying my mother's cabin shed last summer and knew just how it should be re-purposed. (Thanks Mom.)  The new coop went on the other side of a 30 foot span of tall Oleander shrubs, enabling me to create a long run between the two coops with bird netting above the run.  This way, I was able to make more room for the chickens, put up a temporary separation, keep our yard design, and do it myself. (My Prince was still maintaining his distance.)

Meanwhile, here and there, I had been dabbling in little decorative fix-ups. A Facebook friend showed me some curtains she had made for her nest boxes.
On my first attempt at curtains, I used some old kitchen towels and nails.  NOT very BH&G, I know!  I kept at it.  Girls like their privacy, after all!  The leftover gingham check worked well.

Hens also like herbs. When I added herbs to their nest, they started to lay eggs! And that got My Prince to reconsider, especially when my offerings were presented with a touch of class and a wee bit of humor.

Sometimes, okay often,  I had eggs on my mind while working. The camera documented these moments as well. Who wouldn't want to see how big an egg was by comparing it to laptop keys?

As the holidays approached and the temps cooled, my decorating sap began to flow again.  I had to do something to make the coop festive.  I decided to find a stack of kitchen calendars that I had been saving ..well...for just such a moment. One weekend I stooped in the coop, happily decoupaging the walls. The mirror? Oh, that was under my couch. It was warped but too pretty to toss, so up it went in the coop. (You can see I had a little fun photo-editing.) Hens like to look nice too!
That's Coconut, the big, bad bully of the flock, a Rhode Island Red. She eats first, perches first and chomps on her own feathers  -- a habit I am trying to stop by the way.

Meet Banana Chip and Miss Piggy, my sweetest birds; daily layers of the biggest eggs I've ever seen! Here they show their bloomers and their girth, while plucking my favorite blooms. Hey, knock it off!

Meet Happy Feet Peep (or is that Little Bo Peep? I can't tell, but they are both beauties.) Like typical twins, they are never far from each other.
They are Black Australorps, with soft and shining feathers and they like my camera as much as I do.
Here is Lucy Loudmouth, the Delaware that daughter number one bumped from her flock, fearing that Lucy's noisy rants would be unsettling to her neighborhood.  Lucy Loudmouth lays pretty pink eggs, but she is a babbler as she does it. Some girls just like to talk about their projects. Am I right?
Then, there is Dinah, the Red Star.  She is my curious hen. Dinah always has one eye on me and one eye on her mission.  She is a don't-mess-with-me kind of girl who doesn't need to be mean to take prime spots. She has charisma.

I think that she wants to be just like me when she grows up.  I don't have the heart to tell her she's never coming into my house! Though I doubt that would stop her from her dream of moving in.

Do you think these girls know where their food comes from? Or do they want to try on my golden sandals and dance around like little princesses?

Meet Poor Little Matilda, my newest bird.  PLM is a Barred Rock. She brings our flock to eight lovely girls and this is where I must stop adding because of space constraints. Adding a lone hen to a flock is not an easy task. Hens have an established clique, including who gets to sleep where, who gets to lay when; who gets to eat what. I imagine in a few weeks Poor Little Matilda will be allowed to have free access to crumble and treats, but for now she spends a fair amount of the day perching safely out of reach. In the meantime, PLM has an advocate.  It appears that somewhere along the way, My Prince decided that the chickens aren't so bad after all. PLM captured his tender heart.  Hearing her miserable little noises when the big girls picked on her, he began to come in to get me, saying,"Becky, they are picking on my chicken, make sure she is eating; make sure she is drinking."  HMMMMM.

And so concludes begins the story of this crazy old woman who found her nest empty, filled it with chicks, decorating every corner, making friends, and documenting along the way.

...No, BH&G  hasn't shown up to do the photo layout - - yet.  I may not even need them, now that I have my own spiffy little Cannon:)

Recently, I made a new entry for the coop and re-purposed the yucca stalks to be veggie stakes.  My Prince helped me pound his donated tree poles (painted Eden green) into the ground and even shared his air-powered stapler for the job. Now that the temperatures have topped one hundred, the shrubs and the open coop design show their true value.  

Thanks for stopping by. If you are a Hen Hopper, you may want to watch my recent video tour.Becky's Hen Pen 4-16-2012 If you are one of my Chicken Peeps (You know who you are.) you've seen it already. I'm on my way outside to add some bird netting to the deer fence to keep the squirrels and sparrows out of the pen.  Happy day to all!
You can follow this link to view other Hen Houses: Deborah Jean's Hen House Hop

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  1. What a neat story! Dad is so funny.

  2. I love this story Becky-priceless.:0)
    Sandra Miller

  3. Isn't it funny that the husbands don't 'get' our thrill with having chickens until they have a few
    I love your cute curtains on the rabbit hutch. I've got one the same way (ugly) that I got for free and planned to use for the chicks! I can't move it across the yard by myself, so it is waiting patiently for some work to be useful, but I have my first 4 chicks (hen-hatched!)
    No idea the breed, since the eggs were a gift, but I'm hoping the black one is an astralorp!
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. You did all of this yourself?
    I think it looks wonderful.
    I haven't 'decorated' the coop. I'd like to do something to jazz it up and make it attractive. The Honey says The Chickens are hardly ever home that they roam the yard during the day.

    But still... what if BH&G were to show up? (that's what I was thinking)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving sweet comments... have a great week.

  5. Oh, my!! My husband says, "No way!"

  6. Becky, I loved this! Your love of your girls, your sense of humor and your creative updo coop! Stop by the Farmgirl Friday blog hop this evening... The Cottage Hens' have a little something for you!
    Thanks again for playing along with the Hen House Hoppers!

    1. Thank you, Deborah Jean. I love the note cards from the Cottage Hens!

  7. Hi Becky,
    Drop me an email at with your mailing address and I'll get those cards out to you next week!
    Have a great weekend!

  8. Becky, I love love love your coops. Adorable! And your yard is amazing. Won't you come plant flowers here for me?

    The curtains are too cute. I even liked the towels. Glad to know I'm not the only one with pictures hanging in my coop. :o)

    I'm so glad we have connected. Please alert me to any new posts. If some of my Rhode Island Reds ever die, I would like to try some black Australorps! They are beautiful! I wonder if they are good layers. But for now, I have to stop at 31 chickens. I think my husband would disown me. ha ha

    I am going to place your post under my "chicken love" page on my blog. It will bring you more traffic. :o) If you don't want me to do it -- just say so.


    1. Beth, So far my year-old Austalorps are laying well; they are as reliable as their cousins, the Orpingtons.

      Thank you for sharing my post on the "chicken love" is what the world needs most.

  9. I didn't realize there was a Hen Hop.2 version, lol. I love the way you designed your coop and run areas with protections from heat and wildlife in mind, I found it funny how your hubby (like mine) doesn't share the vision and enthusiasm for 'improvements', and I found it validating that other coop-keepers are attentive to their coop-keeping (like me) so as to make it FEEL like a playhouse! I am never satisfied for long, needing to re-decorate/re-vamp the set-up out there!
    I LOVE your welcome sign with the eggs in straw...
    Thanks so much for sharing.


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