Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

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Chicken Coop Redux

As many of my readers may know, I adore chickens and have had several grace my garden over the years.

Note the past tense.

While I love them dearly, I’ve finally realized they’re best enjoyed in other people’s gardens.  I can’t bear to keep them cooped up (no pun intended) in a chicken run, so I would end up letting them free range to their heart’s content in my fairly small garden.GreenBarYes, they’re as picturesque as can be, but these charming garden ornaments can turn a healthy Japanese Forest grass into a shredded mound of green in 15 seconds flat.

And I couldn’t escape the irony every time I’d catch them scratching and pecking (ie: destroying) my long border of Echeveria imbricata (yes, also known as Hens & Chicks).

For even more reasons why they’re a distant memory, read here.

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So after finding a home for our girls on a farm in the Santa Cruz mountains (where they could run free and destroy to their hearts content) the chicken coop that my husband built just sat there empty.GreenBar

A few years ago we visited the amazing Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Springs, New York and loved the neat and tidy way they displayed their extra nursery pots.GreenBarSo, using the above photo as inspiration and vowing to re-purpose every scrap of wood, my husband flipped the coop upside down, removed a few walls and doors, and transformed our unused chicken coop into a plant and pot storage center!GreenBarGreenBar
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Finally my pots are organized in one place and my seedlings and transplants have a home of their own!  Now, if I could only get the squirrels to leave them alone….GreenBar

20 Responses to Chicken Coop Redux

  1. Your hubby is a marvel of a woodworker, isn’t he? Such a great solution — all the charm of a coop without the actual hassle of keeping chickens.

  2. My grandparents had chickens so I empathize with you. They literally had no back yard … just scratching grounds. I have no doubt that my grandmother would have bowled a cabbage if she’d known it kept her chickens happily occupied.

    • Hi Diane – yep, that’s what my garden was turning into – scratching grounds! And doesn’t ‘bowling with chickens’ sound fun? I wish I’d thought of that before they wiped out my own garden.

  3. Silly me. I thought your aviary had been your chicken coop! Apparently I didn’t look closely in the past…Now I want an aviary. I loves me some birds.

    • Thanks, Kris. I certainly will – and visa versa, too! If anyone has any ideas about how to keep those pesky squirrels from trashing pots please let us know!!

  4. I so appreciate this article as my wife “the greatest cook on earth” keeps bring up our need for a chicken coop. However, if you have fresh eggs to get rid off, call her she makes a mean soufflé!

  5. I am open to any magic that anyone has for squirrels, that includes driving them out to the Santa Cruz Mountains. I love the facility for your pots; I am a huge believer in repurposing.

    • Ah – if only I had the time to drive all of our squirrels out to the Santa Cruz Mountains. I think mine must be the worst in the area – destroying plants for the sheer joy of it. Grrrr!!!

  6. Love how it turned out! An organized place for pots would be the perfect addition to my yet to be built potting bench. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • You’re welcome, Felicia! My pots sat crammed in a corner for years so its really nice to have a place where they won’t gather fallen leaves, critters’ nests, etc. 🙂

  7. Thank goodness you wrote this as I was just entertaining the idea of getting chickens. Since my baby tears are the prettiest they’ve ever been I am going to give up on this idea though I’m still entertaining my life long dream of owning a goat!

  8. Hello, I am so glad to read an article that is honest and to the point. I have been working for a farm and feed store for 15 years. We sell pullets to hobby farmers. We have a by law here that states no backyard chickens. Many people think that having a few chickens in a small confined backyard is a great way to be close to nature, teach there children lessons about life with benefits of fresh eggs every day. Well this is all true except the novelty would wear off pretty darn quickly when clean up and all the things you mentioned become reality. Thank you for the wonderful piece on the truths about having backyard chickens.

    • You’re so welcome. I’m the first to state that I just love chickens, and can’t wait to have a little larger property so I can have them again and where neighbors won’t complain about the noise they make. But you’re right – they’re not for everyone. However, I know many people with gardens much smaller than mine who have chickens and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I guess to each their own. I’m a landscape designer, so my garden is a calling card of sorts, and having to worry if clients are going to step on one of the many ‘bombs’ lying dormant or not, or whether a garden border has been obliterated to smithereens was a daily stress I just didn’t need! It took me a long time to find a good home for them (which, as you know, isn’t easy) but was so fortunate to find a woman who has a large farm who welcomed them with open arms. In fact, each morning she’d go bowling with a cabbage head, rolling it so the hens would have fun chasing and pecking it all day.