I clamped my jaw shut for the fourth time that week as my husband told me yet again that I had to wait. I had already been waiting for three years for him to say yes to getting chickens, and now that we had some little chicks he was making me wait even longer while he prepared the chicken and duck house. This is the same man who waited 7 years to ask me out on a date.
My sister had surprised us with 20 chirping birds when spring came around. There were 12 chickens and 8 ducks. We had a building for them- a 12×8 garden shed with double barn doors. My plan was to throw some wood chips in and let them loose. My husband had a better plan, but it meant I would have to wait at least three more weeks. I hate waiting.
I am so glad that he did not let me have my way.
The chicken and duck house is far safer and will last longer because of what he did to it. It is also more functional and aesthetically pleasing. Because of his creativity, it is almost maintenance free and the only daily chore is letting them out!
Why do I struggle so much with waiting? My two year old does better with this word than me.
It should not be hard, because my husband has never disappointed me when he has asked me to wait. After all, I waited 7 years for him and have not been disappointed! Here are three tips for those of you who struggle with waiting:
- Be still. Don’t allow your mind to torment you.
- Be diligent. Do what you need to do while you wait for what you want. Prepare for the competed product in faith that it will get done!
- Focus on the good, and trust that the person will do what they said they will do. Hold them to it, but trust them and give them enough time to complete the task.
The final product? AMAZING! We have not lost a single bird, which is amazing considering that we live right in the middle of a predator infested forest. There are coyotes, foxes, hawks, weasels, snakes, turkey vultures, and bald eagles everywhere. It is easy to clean, and there are no daily chores except opening and shutting their door at dawn and dusk. I have had so many people tell me they want the setup I have.
- The floor is coated with a black sealant to keep the wood from rotting. If the wood starts to rot, mice will eat away at it and create entry points for predators. This also makes it a breeze to clean! I grab a rake and pull all of the old bedding out, then use a squeegee to get all of the moisture out. Since the sealant is rubber, all of the moisture comes right off!
- He added metal around the base and plywood up top. He caulked all of the seams and sealed the plywood to make sure that the moisture didn’t rot the wood.
- He built a wall right down the middle of the building between the two doors. If you open the left door, you will be in the coop section. If you open the right door, you will be in the storage area. That way, I never have to walk through poop to get to the boxes.
- He built three levels of boxes for laying and sealed them with the black sealant. The ducks nest in the lower box, while the chickens nest in the top two boxes. There is a hatch to open the top and bottom, and a sliding door to get to the eggs on the middle box.
- The watering system is made out of PVC pipe and holds TWELVE gallons of water when full. It is easy to clean out, and the poultry nipples make sure that the ducks do not make a complete mess of the water. I fill it up on the storage side of the coop, and the PVC pipe goes into the bird’s side where there are poultry nipples. I have left it for two weeks and still had water left in the bottom PVC. The ducks seem to like the top pipe, and the chickens use the bottom level more.
- The food system blew me away! He used a 50 gallon trash can on wheels and cut holes in three sides. He put a 90 degree PVC in each hole with an opening for the food to come in at the bottom. He added a small lip on each PVC opening to make sure that the birds didn’t waste any of the food. This cut our feeding bill into one fourth of what it was with the old feeder. We don’t have to worry about them pooping in their food, and to top it off, we only have to fill it up about once a month!
The yard is 20 feet long and 12 feet wide. He started by setting the posts, and then dug a 3 foot deep trench all the way around. He put a strong steel mesh down, and then filled the base of the trench with huge stones, bricks, and rubble we had lying around on our farm that needed to be cleaned up anyway.
The steel mesh was 4 feet tall, so he buried 3 feet and left one foot above ground. He secured the mesh at the top with a horizontal 2×4 all the way around. He framed the rest of the coop, added chicken wire and a strong steel fence all the way up to the top, and finished by covering the top with chicken wire. The best thing about the run is that we have stayed out late and left it open overnight several times. We have never lost a chicken or duck as long as they are locked in the run. I mean, this thing is like a fort!
- As if this wasn’t already enough, he added a chicken swing and built a small house to provide extra shade with a stand for their scratching block to keep it off of the ground and out of their poop.
- The door to the coop opens from the outside of the run. That way, I never have to walk through the chicken and duck poop when I am doing my chores.
- The only idea I had to contribute was to add a few planters that would provide a natural food source. We painted them and planted thyme and mint (both are perennial ground covers that keep gnats away, boost egg production, and are safe for ducks and chickens). We filled them with dirt leaving 4 inches of space from the top, planted the thyme and mint, and then stapled chicken wire across the top. This stops the chickens from tearing them up by their roots. They can eat any part of the plant that grows up close to the wire or spills over.
The finished product was far better than I ever could have imagined! If I hadn’t waited, I would not have this amazing building for my flock of birds. Now, I only have to let them out and lock them in each day, and I only have to clean the coop and fill their water once every two weeks! I only have to feed them once a month (much less now that we are letting them free range). I guess the moral of the story is to surround yourself with dependable people whose yes means yes, and then give them time to do what they said they would do. Don’t get into a rush and settle for less!