Coming Home to Roost


“It is just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.”

– Frank Lloyd Wright


As many of you who attended this month’s 32nd National Arts and Crafts Conference here in Asheville know too well, traveling means making arrangements for your pets. That, of course, can range from finding the best boarding facility to hiring a reliable and responsible person to either stay at your house or stop by twice a day to check on them.


Leigh Ann and I have had our share of near disasters. One time we hired one of her technicians to pet-sit, but came home to find a beer can inside Leigh Ann’s walk-in closet and white rings all over our Stickley dining room table. Last year the next pet sitter got arrested on Friday of the conference and never bothered to call us. None of the horses or cats got fed, and Daisy and Jasper were locked up inside the house for three days.


By Sunday night, not a pretty sight.



This year we added four chickens to our barn collection, and discovered on Friday of the conference that to a coyote “free range” means “free lunch.” We came home on Sunday night to find only two very shaken chickens – Snow White and Pearl – who were convinced they were soon to meet the same feathery fate.



So, on a rainy Tuesday I began converting a lean-to on the back of Leigh Ann’s garden shed into a chicken coop inside our large, fenced back yard. The yard is shared by our three outdoor cats plus Daisy and Jasper, all of whom had met Snow White and Pearl down at the horse barn. One of our cats immediately started stalking the new arrivals, until Snow White stood on her large, sharp talons, stretched out her wings as a warning, and stared him down.


End of problem.



The project was pretty easy, as I just had to fill in the three open walls with 2×4 studs, then cover them with cedar siding. We had not yet hauled our former exterior doors to Habitat for Humanity (no, my basement remodeling project is not yet done), so Leigh Ann suggested that I install them on the east end of the chicken coop.



In the end, it all turned out pretty well, for a chicken coop. Pearl and Snow White are more relaxed now, although they have not yet resumed laying eggs, so I’m back to cold cereal for breakfast.



Leigh Ann will probably get two additional hens, but no more roosters. George, our beautiful, but now deceased rooster, had made it a point to start crowing at 5:30am each day, just in case the coyotes hadn’t yet noticed the arrival of our chickens.


Some things it just doesn’t pay to advertise.


I’m back at work now on the basement remodeling project, staining new trim and finishing out the windows, hopeful that Snow White and Pearl will be with us for a while.


Until next week,

May all your chickens come home to roost.