For example, today I put in my automatic chicken coop door. Because I'm high tech like that. Actually, I hate getting up in the morning. I don't sleep until noon or anything, but it's usually 8:30 or 9 before I get up. Chickens don't really jive with that. When they were younger they didn't mind so much, but once the roosters started to crow and harass the ladies, they want to get out into the yard ASAP in the AM. For the past month or so I've sweet talked my super awesome hubby into letting them out when he goes to work in the morning, but he is obviously resentful of anything that messes with his routine in the morning... and the chicken thing is my thing.
And he is out of town this week, so instead of getting up early in his stead to let out the chickens (or rather, feeling guilty for NOT getting up to let them out...) I finally got around to installing the automatic door. It came in the mail a few weeks ago, but I was intimidated by the large contraption. It's also significant that I did this ALL by myself (I sound like my 2 year old), from cutting out the hole with the big scary sawzall to framing the opening for the door setup. And it looks good. At least, it looks better than the old door, which I boarded up (and which still looks pretty bad...).
I also decided that, since I had to pull my nest boxes out to install the door, I might as well get around to getting them set up for actual nesting. Now that my oldest chickens are just about 4 months old I could get an egg any day now (here's hoping, anyway!) and it would be awesome if they started laying where they're supposed to. But that would have been hard before today, since I had the next box closed off with a board I had screwed on a while back to keep them from roosting in it. I know that you're supposed to put your nest boxes lower than your roosts so they don't want to roost in them, but I did (mostly, I do have one low roost) make them high enough... however, my chickens have decided to completely ignore my roosts. At the time when I had to cover the nest boxes there were 5 or 6 who would cram into one while the rest still piled on the floor. Then they started roosting on the open shelves (I left them open for them to climb/roost on...). Then on the edge of the second level. Then, while I was gone a few weeks ago, all the Ameraucaunas and a few of the Rocks started roosting in the rafters. It freaked out my friend who was watching them, because she went to count chickens one night and there were 5 or 6 missing... she started to worry some had gone missing somehow when one jumped down and scared the poop out of her:) And recently the 6 week old Red Stars have started roosting on the TOP OF THE WINDOW where it's framed- a two by four, but there isn't much room for them. A few of them (the red stars) do sometimes roost on the higher of the two roosts. And my two roosters and my three bantams still sleep in a pile on the floor. My fully grown, sexually mature, huge roosters. I get the bantams, but the roosters are starting to baffle me.
Anyway, I set up a board that swings up and down (I'll post pictures- it's hard to explain) so I can block off the nest boxes at night and open them during the day. The board that covers the top row of boxes also doubles as a roost, so they can jump up there more easily. I do have to say that, when I planned to make as much use as possible of the vertical space in my coop I was worried that they wouldn't use all the space and that some of it would go to waste- so far that hasn't been the case. The flightier chickens- the red stars and the Ameraucanas- like the second level, while the heavier breeds and the bantams like to stay on the ground. The Rocks seem to like both. In fact, it has all worked out so well I've been trying to think how I could use even more vertical space without making it too inconvenient for me to get into. My point being that I'm hopeful that the same chickens who like the upper part of the coop will like the higher boxes, while the others will use the lower ones. We'll see.
And I'll be posting my opinion of the automatic chicken coop door after I've seen how well it works. So far I'm impressed.