Cheryl & Her Chickens
Cheryl and her beautiful coop full of chickens are our next feature on www.chickfliccoop.com
Cheryl loves the outdoors, animals and small farm life. She describes herself in this way, “Before I retired in 2010 I decided I wanted to do a lot of interesting things in my retirement years. I am very adventurous and not the type to sit around eating chocolates and watching soap operas. So, I took fly fishing lessons and took a course at the local Ag Center and became a beekeeper. I started three raised bed vegetable gardens and after visiting a friend from church who has backyard chickens, I read and learned about raising chickens and decided, I can do that.”
First, Cheryl needed a coop and pen to keep her chickens safe in. She goes on to explain, “So, the question we had for the last 16 years about what to do with the little cabin in the corner of the property was solved. Make it a chicken coop!” It was decided, Cheryl would include backyard chickens in her retirement life.
First, let us show and describe her coop. It is practical and spacious but not too big. It is in two parts as shown in the photo below.
The first is her pen area that is wood framed with strong screen allowing the breeze to move through but offers protection from predators on all sides and top. Cheryl has sand on top of the soil and a little straw mixed in. Her hens find their drinkers and food bowls out here. Cheryl states, “Layer feed is always available to them, with occasional treats like fruits, greens everyday and mealworms. Oyster shells are always available for extra calcium.” These hens are living the good life.
The other part of her chicken’s home is the small preexisting structure that she converted into a safe coop with some added touches that give it charm and appeal. She has double doors that open over steps with one of the doors holding a smaller automatic door and ramp for her hens providing plenty of ventilation. Two windows on either side of the double doors and a third along the back wall offer ample light into the this beautiful coop. Showing Cheryl’s fun loving passion to decorate, each window proudly displays a flower box at its base.
The coop door and windows are open for ventilation. The pen is very secure against “most” predators. Cheryl explained, “I walked down to check on the “girls” one day and they seemed totally normal. I went into the coop to collect eggs and stretched out from the door to the corner of the coop was a black snake approximately four feet long with an egg in his mouth!” We took a breath in shock and anticipation to hear what Cheryl did next in this slimy, slithering story. Cheryl continued, “That corner was a favorite spot (photo below) for one of the hens to lay her eggs. The snake saw me and released the egg and before I knew it, I bent down and had the huge snake in my hand! Then I thought, now what do I do?” Cheryl laughed as she retold this story and of course we asked quickly, “Did the snake bite you, when you picked it up?”
Cheryl replied, “No I set it back down in the corner before it could bite me and went straight to the barn for my axe.” We will let your imagination finish the story of the epic battle between a coop mother and the large snake. Before we move on we can confidently state that Cheryl is very protective of her flock.
Now back to the coop. It is fun and inviting in appearance for visitors. She enjoys showing off her chickens and their home. The coop has room for her to move inside as well as an ample space for roost and nesting areas.
Once inside the door you quickly notice the bright red and yellow she painted the walls.
One thing we noticed in our visit was Cheryl’s roosting area. She built two rods for her girls to perch on and a large box area to catch the droppings before they hit the floor that is about waist level showing she values her back. Smart!
The coops floor is covered with pine shavings (not cedar) and is immaculate. Cheryl confesses, “I like the coop to be clean so somedays I find myself on my hands and knees cleaning up the droppings.” I remembered that Cheryl stated that she wears the same pair of boots into the coop and doesn’t wear them anywhere else which is a great biosecurity practice. But with this floor as clean as it is I might have been alright walking in here wearing flip flops! Cheryl went on to say, “I sometimes let the box below the roost area accumulate droppings but not for too long because I know the ammonia fumes that rise out of it are bad for my birds.”
This was our opportunity to demonstrate how CHICK Flic® binds ammonia into ammonium sulfate which is harmless and odorless. Cheryl did the sniff test where pure ammonia is dropped into CHICK Flic® and also another product that claims ammonia control for a comparison. In this case Cheryl said she used Sweet PDZ. She was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the ammonia odor went away in CHICK Flic® and equally surprised how the product she used in the past had no effect over the ammonia smell. You may ask why use clear ammonia? You see pure, clear ammonia as the ultimate test for a product that claims ammonia control. If CHICK Flic® can bind pure ammonia then it is an easy task for it to eliminate ammonia that slowly and continuously rises out of the droppings as bacterial enzymes break them down in the coop. See this article for effects of ammonia on chickens.
Back to the coop. Cheryl shows her creativity and humor with how she has decorated her coop outside and in. We noticed as we walked up to the door of her pen a sign stating “Egg Hunt This Way”.
She also has several fun signs on her walls which she purchased from artist, Susan Wymola. A few of the chicken sayings on them Cheryl suggested to the artist who gladly painted and sent them to her.
Now for the chickens!
Cheryl got the baby chicks from Little Birdie Hatchery in Wake Forest, NC in August of 2013. She currently has 13 hens and 2 pullets. The two pullets were hatched Sept. 2014, from fertilized eggs she put under her “broody” Buff Orpington.
Her flock includes Buff Orpington, Partridge Rock, Barred Rock, Ameracauna, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island Red, Black Australorp and Leghorn mix.
Cheryl decided to give them names from the Bible. More specifically after women in the Bible so she calls them “The Biblical Girls”. See the video for a bit of explanation.
Cheryl’s chickens are named Mary, Elizabeth, Eve, Esther, Delilah, Rhoda, Anna, Priscilla, Ruth, Naomi, Rachael, Leah, Sara, Judith and Martha!
In holding Cheryl’s chickens we found them to be calm and quite friendly around us. Cheryl handled her hens when they were chicks and pullets so most of them will allow you to hold them and relax in your arms.
In closing it was wonderful to visit Cheryl’s small and beautiful farm. She and her chickens are certainly enjoying her retirement and each other. CHICK Flic® would like to thank Cheryl for letting us visit her farm and chickens. Feel free to comment or ask question on this article or on our Facebook page “Chick Flic”.
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