Our favorite chic coops
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Fat Chick coop
With the sun streaming in through stained-glass windows, the happy hens of Fat Chick Folly contemplate the creation of the perfect egg in beautiful solitude.
These pampered pets are the inhabitants of an over-the-top coop nestled amid a gorgeous backyard garden and bamboo forest at the Santa Barbara home of Lynn Montgomery and Richard Kriegler.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
Comfort for poultry and people
The coop offers more daily luxuries than fresh, organic eggs. Besides straw-cushioned nest boxes for the hens, it includes cushy family digs for viewing and communing with the chickens. The screened-off viewing area is lit with bamboo-covered lights and has cushioned seating and colorful rugs.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
Pretty and productive
Lynn's chickens produce beautiful eggs: orbs of goodness that become omelets, frittatas, and soufflés. The Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Red chickens lay brown eggs. The Ameraucana hen lays blue-green eggs and goes by the name Sam I Am, a nod to the Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
Fowl and family
Richard, an artist and designer, built the dual-purpose coop with spaces for fowl and family separated by a screen door. Lynn's sister, Denise Montgomery, created the garden design surrounding the coop, and daughter Hannah, 12, kicks back with the chickens to read or observe their escapades.
"Just watching chickens is healthy," says Lynn, who writes children's books. She was so inspired by her chickens that she titled her next book Fat Chick.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
"We had never raised chickens before," says Gloria Cavallero of Santa Barbara. "My grandparents had chickens and I remember them fondly, so when our then-11-year-old son, William, wanted chickens, it was hard to say no." William got his wish in the form of eight cheeping chicks. The brood included a United Nations of chick types: Sicilian Buttercup, developed in Sicily; Barred Rock, also called Plymouth Rock and developed in New England in the 19th century; Ameraucana, a South American breed; and Welsummer, a breed developed in Holland.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
The day the chicks grew large enough to hop out of a box was the day they were moved into the coop. "In the spirit of ecology, our coop was reused from an old tool shed that had been on the property since the 1940s," Gloria says.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
The family located the 10×6-foot coop at the end of their property. "We cut openings in the shed to provide cross ventilation and lined it with a small-gauge chicken wire," Gloria says. They also added nesting boxes and old rack shelving for roosting. The coop has an outdoor run area for the chickens to wander about and to scratch up bugs as snacks.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
More than eggs
The chicks started laying eggs when they reached about 5 to 7 months, but the family got so much more than eggs. They acquired engaging, affectionate pets. "They each have their own personality," Gloria says. "If we're sitting in the garden, Sici, the Sicilian Buttercup, is the first to come and sit in our laps."Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
Although backyard poultry is a growing trend, Penny Bianchi of Santa Barbara kept chickens long before they were chic. "I've raised chickens for 20 years," she says. The petite chickens in the Bianchi brood are bred to be small. Miniature chickens, called bantams, come in many breeds. Penny raises diminutive Mille Fleur bantams, which start out as fuzzy yellow-and-brown chicks and grow into elegant birds with white-tipped russet feathers that also boot their tiny feet. Penny collects eggs but also allows her hens to raise broods of chicks. "We recently re-homed four roosters that hatched here," she says.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
Penny, an interior designer, incorporated a sense of whimsy into her backyard poultry paradise. The rectangular Villa des Poules coop "was built by an artisan who had lived in Bali," Penny says, and it features colorful hand-painted flourishes and a Balinese rooster atop the coop.
The coop sits within a wire enclosure that allows the chickens to scratch in contentment and safety. "We have lots of predators -- coyotes, bobcats, raccoons," Penny says. "We extended the fencing 18 inches into the ground so that no animal could dig its way in." Additionally, she added a layer of wire under the sawdust-covered ground to discourage ground squirrels from burrowing into the enclosure.Date Published: May 20, 2013Date Updated: December 2, 2013
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