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Building the Coop D’Grace :: Building an Urban Chicken Coop

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In the last year, anyone who’s anyone in the blogosphere has covered the topic of urban chickenry (not a dance move). 

So when Jayson from @NewHomesSection sent this post as one part of a pair of essays on the state of things, I said Whooo!  Trifecta!  Ahhhhh . . . ha! not really, but here’s my chance to post too on building an urban chicken coop and enjoy!  Thanks out to friends Jayson, @bobborson and @Paul_Anater for blazing the way.  ~jb

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With all of the hammering, clanking, nail gunning (and occasional swearing) going on next door, it seemed that my neighbor was “up to something.” I couldn’t resist swinging by to see if he was finally adding on that family room he’s had his mind’s eye focused on for the past few years. Instead, I found him slaving over a barn in miniature. Assuming he wasn’t planning on breeding tiny horses, I realized that my neighbor—like much of the rest of the neighborhood—had caught chicken fever.

If you haven’t heard about the skyrocketing interest in keeping chickens, you’re certainly not alone. And if you never imagined that there’d be chickens clucking, cawing and pecking in your neighbor’s backyard… well, you’re probably not alone on that one either. National public radio ran a story last year on the rising numbers of city dwellers (and suburbanites) that are now keeping chickens, and the “would-be backyard farmers” that they mention are growing their ranks across the country.

The why of it isn’t too hard to understand—most hens are easy-going as far as pets go, and the eggs they lay won’t get recalled the day after you have a huge omelet for breakfast. And the same economic factors that are pushing people to put in vegetable gardens instead of flower beds make keeping a food-producing pet seem to suddenly make a whole lot of sense. For me, I’m not ready to take the plunge into part-time poultry raising, but the idea is seeming a whole lot less far-fetched than it did the first time I ran across it.

But back to my next door neighbor, and what I find to be the most interesting aspect of this rampant rush to keep birds: his coop wasn’t some chicken wire and plank monstrosity. Oh no. For my quite capable and oft-time skilled carpenter neighbor, only an exact, detailed and ornate version of a classic red barn would do.

As he excitedly pointed out to me the working barn door and motorized windows, I realized that for him, this project is just as much about building as it is about eggs. Lest you think he’s alone in this, there are a number of websites where people share and swap coop designs, and some of them are works of contractor art. After all, if you can’t buy a new home, and can’t remodel your existing home, why let that keep you from the joys of construction and design?

I guess, what with the economy and his sporadic employment, my neighbor has to hold off on that home addition. But to keep his skills flexible, and his creativity fresh, he can certainly afford putting time and a small amount of money into building a dream house… even if it’s just for the birds.

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Note from the hosts:  Thanks again to Jayson for such a great set of posts.  Productive day all.  Again.  ~jb

Image Source: backyardchickens.com

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