We love our chickens. We love their personality. We love their silly antics that put us in stitches. And we love their eggs, of course. There's nothing like an Easter egg hunt nearly every day – especially since we've discovered our hens pickiness about their nesting areas.
My husband went to a lot of trouble designing and building our passive solar chicken coop. The coop is 8-by-12 and, based on all the literature we've read, can house roughly 24 heavy breed hens. There are two rows of nesting boxes, allowing ample room for the girls to lay their eggs. But, do you think they like to do that? Nope!
We use the area under our deck for storage and the hens use it for dust bathing and as shade. They also created for themselves two nesting areas for eggs. It was convenient to go gather the eggs since we just had to go down the stairs and viola! Then my husband decided to rearrange some things and smooth out the dirt. That wasn't good enough anymore for the girls! They moved their nest. After a day or so, I found a hidden stash next to our compost area. The hunt was over for a few days! Until ... my husband weed whacked the area and their nest was exposed.
I wasn't happy with the constant changing up of nesting areas and annoyed that they had perfectly good nesting space in the coop and refused to use it. I've read about and seen pictures of coop curtains since I started researching chickens a few years ago. They were cute and some even fancier than the curtains in some homes, but I wasn't sure how practical they were. But, I knew that the musical nest game had to end and so I grabbed some red polka dot flannel on sale at the fabric store and went to work. (Or rather, my mother-in-law took the project since she thought the idea was way cool!)
As I mowed the lawn, she and my son plotted and planned and cut and sewed the curtains. We hung them up and I was sure that the hens were going to rebel once again and we'd be forever searching for their eggs. But, you know what? They love them! They create the privacy they crave and now the hens lay the eggs where they are supposed to. It makes egg gathering a breeze and my children love to help. My 2-year-old daughter tells me it's her job to go to the “toop” to gather the eggs.
How about you? Do you have curtains for your hens? I think my next project will be making a sign to hang outside the coop door that says “Wicked chickens lay deviled eggs.” In the meantime, I'll soon be sharing our trials and tribulations with having a free range flock as well as some photographs of the chicken coop. Until then, happy homesteading!