Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the chicken tractor...or what you can do with $150 and a bunch of scrap wood.

A few good hens: 3 Barred Plymoth Rock, 1 Rhode Island Red, and one sassy little red number with white tail feathers:
I've been meaning to post about how this whole backyard chicken operation is going.   About two weeks ago my neighbor Lindsay procured us five free laying hens from a family who was moving and couldn't keep them anymore.  That whole event was kind of sad because they were the kids' pets (lots of tears when they dropped the chickens off, even more tears when Cash proceeded to chase them all, terrified and squawking, around the yard until I could round them up into our shed). We didn't really have a place to put them at first, so they lived in a ramshackle plywood lean-to, until we completed the Chick-Chalet.
 Now, this is not a masterpiece of finish carpentry, to be sure. The fact that we have only $150 into it (which I assure you, is very cheap by Nome standards), and that we came by most of the materials by scavenging, makes this a fairly cost-effective little operation, and also gives it that, ahem, rustic feel.  We decided to go with the mobile "chicken tractor" idea.  If you are interested in other chicken tractor designs, I highly recommend checking out this website--which is full of awesome information about running small scale poultry operations in limited spaces. Why a mobile chicken coop?  Well-- it is nice because your chicks always have some fresh grass to peck on, they clean up grubs and bugs from your yard, and if you move the coop every 1-2 days you never get that super-concentrated, nasty chicken stink going on.  Each time we move this coop we just rake up the dead grass and chicken droppings and in the compost it goes.  The "yard" grows back and then by the end of the chicken coop rotation you start over again.
 Some features of our chicken tractor: A drop down door in the front near the bottom to allow for easy chicken herding (courtesy of Cassius) and also feeding.

A state-of-the-art, triangular design with metal roof cap to keep the upstairs roosting and nesting areas dry. An open chicken wire bottom, so our hens can root and scratch in the fresh Bering Sea breeze.
 and on the other side, the top where the roosting and nesting areas are, features two big doors that open for easy cleaning and egg gathering.
 Here is one of our hens giving me the stink eye for disturbing her egg-laying.  As you were, chicken. 
So... there you have it.  My life-long dream of a small flock of backyard chickens checked off the bucket list.  And 4-5 fresh eggs a day... as Borat would say, "very nice!" And miss Sadie Mai, well, she loves the chickens.  If you even mention the word chicken in casual conversation she goes off with a series of "bok-bok'bok" sounds until a chicken-feeding field trip results.


  1. Love this post! I just passed it on to a friend who is about to get a bunch of chicks herself. Thanks for the info and great photos. Good work on the tractor!

  2. we have a chicken tractor too!! i'm so jealous of 1) your 4-5 eggs a day! we have 57 chickens but zero eggs (LOL).


    2) sadie saying bok bok bok! sooooooo cute!