The Featherneck Country Club! (Or, chicken coop: expectations vs. reality)

When we moved to the homestead I had visions of many things: a prolific garden, gentle milking goats, and composting toilets (just kidding).
But I was mostly excited about getting chickens. We would have fresh, brown eggs and beautiful, feathered friends to entertain us when all the good TV is in its off-season. Our dog and the chickens would get along, and even have cute little moments where, ya know, he doesn’t try to eat them. We would have a beautiful chicken coop filled with happy, healthy hens.
We have milking goats, but they’re more interested in eating my hat than anything. We don’t have eggs yet (that’s ok), but we have discovered we’ve probably got a rooster. He’s cool, but hasn’t crowed yet. (Update: he’s a rooster! He was a late bloomer, like Robin Williams in Hook.) We definitely have a dog who is obsessed with eating chicken poop (and all other animal poop). The chickens are more entertaining than this season of The New Girl. All in all, it’s been an awesome, frustrating, fun mess.
And while we have happy, healthy hens, we definitely don’t have that beautiful chicken coop.
I envisioned something like this – the Nantucket Coop from this site (where I go to envy things I don’t have), fully wired with electricity and, like, a chicken massage parlor and oyster shell/grit bar.

Nantucket Coop

But if I’ve learned anything from this homesteading experience so far, it’s that things don’t go as expected.

(Oh: and I’ve also learned that living in a rural area with no zoning codes or HOAs is FREAKING AWESOME.)

Because our “coop” looks more like a ramshackle converted shed (because that’s what it is). We call it the Featherneck Country Club. (Actually, I just made that up.)

It’s a resort-style country club with many amenities. Like a secured entry that deters would-be coop raiders and the band of rapscallions (aka stray dogs) that come around now and again, looking for trouble. We have a part-time security chicken, as well as plenty of shade adjacent to chicken-friendly flooring that’s perfect for a good afternoon scratch-n-peck.

I know. You can feel the class wafting over you.

(FYI: we just bought an automatic chicken door that we’ll install soon.)

Featherneck Country Club

Allow me to tell you more about the amenities at the Featherneck Country Club.

For the most important chickens, we feature a gated community with a pool, a lounge area, and a very attentive pool boy.

The Pool Boy

To ensure the chickens’ safety, we have equipped the area surrounding the Featherneck Country Club with a foolproof security system that keeps would-be sky predators at bay. (Unlike my dog and most Real Housewives, apparently hawks don’t like shiny things.)

Bonus: we’ve finally found a use for our old Nickleback and Eve 6 CDs.

security system.jpg

And because I am dedicated to providing a safe place for my patrons and their friends to have a good time, we have this combination party decoration/shiny security “disco ball” (yes, I bought that and made my husband hang it to further deter hawks) to ensure a safe environment in which to “get your cluck on.”

party safe.jpg

And finally, because my hard work to set this up apparently means nothing to you, dear chickens, you can simply make use of the vast expanse of bug-filled land outside your bunker. Because that’s the point of all this, anyway, right?

land.jpg

So…what do you think of the Featherneck Country Club? (Somebody tell me I’m still a normal  human person. Please.)

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29 Responses

  1. Ha ha ha. I so relate. I too have a chicken mess. But a well established, highly prolific one, and the chickens seem happy. You will get your eggs!

  2. Still normal and exhibiting your wickedly perverse sense of humor. I love it. Who needs that snootty nose in the air Nantucket stuff anyways?

  3. I want to be a chicken and come party at the Club! Looks like an amazing place to hang…love the disco ball and hanging CDs. You are the coolest chicken mom ever!

  4. You are freaking hilarious. I love the disco ball. The whole setup reminds me of when we hung Ziploc baggies of water all over my patio because we heard it kept flies away (didn’t work.) I hope you have better luck with your repelling efforts.

  5. Oh Liz, I love when you share photos and talk about the reality of taking baby steps. We have chickens, meat rabbits, and a sweet rescue goat that we hope to breed and milk some day. When I tell people that we have the animals, they get the same look in their eye that I used to get when I was still dreaming of this lifestyle and I secretly hope they don’t say “can I come over and see them?”
    Our homesteading budget is small (formerly our monthly “restaurant” allocation) and while I would love a beautiful set-up like The Chicken Chick, the reality is that my chickens lay in an old up-cycled dog house inside a large up-cycled dog pen that we added panels to in order to give them enough space to keep them safe while we are at work. It’s not pretty, but it works for us and we use what we have access to. If it had to be perfect to start out with, we would have never started so we just jumped right in and are doing the best we can. Like you, learning as we go.
    We will get there someday, with the beautiful set-up that looks like it came out of a magazine, but for now we are enjoying where we are and what we have been blessed with!

  6. Hillarious! But so true! If only things worked out like the pictures in Mother Earth News. I’m hoping to get a chicken coop soon but if my memory serves me right I’ll need to be ready for the racoons who will also be interested in my future feathered friends. Have you had trouble with racoons?
    Keep the posts coming.

  7. I love it! It reminds me so much of my chicken adventures. From the big dreams to the less-than-perfect reality. I will say, that chickens are one of the most entertaining “pets” I’ve ever had. My dogs are also fascinated by chicken poop :-/

  8. Love it!!! I’ve got some serious jealousy going on for your chicken “country club”. My husband promised me chickens when we moved in January. It is now October and all we have is half of a chicken coop. 🙁

  9. Make it work! Literally that is what you are doing. You don’t need to buy stuff, that’s awesome you are repurposing all the goodies from past parties, decades and more. Love this!

  10. Holy heck…this is hilarious and since I only buy my eggs from a lady with yard chickens just like you..well I 100 percent support you and think you are normal (ish) 🙂 Good Luck..it looks really awesome.

  11. Liz, I love reading updates and seeing pictures of the homestead. You make me laugh because this looks like something I would so do! I’m not laughing at you though. Thanks for your honesty and keep sharing updates with us!

  12. Love it! You are so hilarious! As a future homesteader myself (as soon as I can get out from under my Urban Burden (aka- the House I cannot sell)), I love following your adventures.
    Question- you mentioned the Cave Pup and his interactions with your chickens. Does he really try to eat them, or just play really violently? Are there any tips/tricks to keep him out of their business? My dogs are certified rabbit, bird, and mole killers, so I can only imagine what they would do with a brood of chickens….

  13. Hilarious! And totally normal. Our chicken tractor is sided with gen-u-wine above ground pool siding, complete with the fake wood grain pattern. I think they like their little log cabin 🙂

  14. Where do we sign up for the Featherneck Country Club and Resort? How much are the Annual Fees and Membership Dues?
    PS I so had to click on mypetchicken.com. As if?!

  15. So I grew up in the country, I’m talking country-country (and for reference I was born in 1980): two tv channels (no cable until college), dirt road (wasn’t paved until high school), had to plow out us and our neighbors one year (b/c our roads were labeled tertiary in neccessity), reusing what you have to create what you want .. .. Your homestead so reminds me of home!!!
    And your “Featherneck Country Club” reminds me of the song “Redneck Yacht Club” :o) The CDs and Disco Ball are hilarious .. Just keepin’ it real out in the boondocks !!!!

  16. I love this! You are living my dream! My husband and I have 7 chickens – 4 old enough to lay and 3 about to be old enough to lay which we still call the babies. We live in a suburban neighborhood in Houston and our HOA says “no livestock or chickens) but we have bribed all of or neighbors with eggs and garden veggies so we’re good for now. Being a city girl, I never thought I would have chickens, and although my husband, who grew up on a farm, does all the hard work for them, I love having them and each of them has their very own personality. I’m working on training them, but as the hubby reminds me… they can’t be trained… I have 3 that will squat down & let me pick them up when I put my hand out to them, so I think I can train them! I wish we had a coop like yours. Ours is home made two story loft type of arrangement and gives them each a place to lay their eggs, perch when they want, and even a little door we can open into the garden to eat out the grass or bugs between plantings. They squwack when they want to be let out and run around the yard. Every night when we get home from work we spend the remaining daylight out in the yard with the chickens and the dog (who is no longer interested in the chickens) and talk about the day. Sorry to ramble on… just happy to have stumbled upon your blog today and then to see the chicken coop! I will be following your blog!

  17. I agree with you all: awesome and refreshingly normal. Normal, BECAUSE you allow yourself to take it step-by-step, rely on creative uses of ‘stuff’ by up-, or even down-cycling and because you share your experiences honestly, no glossing over. I think many of ‘us’ suffer from constant internal pressure to be perfect and having it all figured out. We NEED friends that show us it is awesome to be normal :D.
    Hub and I do the paleo thing as good as we can in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and would love to be more self-sufficient. Growing tomatoes and pretty nice smelling climbing jasmines is sadly all the farming we can do here. Tried many other things but it is hot here in the summer (46-55 Celsius). Our two cats are efficient bug and lizard hunters but I think keeping chickens and goats are frowned upon in the diplomatic quarters these days, especially after the former Moroccan ambassador’s ‘exotic’ beautiful chickens kept ‘flying’ over his walls (and I heard) wander off towards first security line of US embassy grounds. They were probably decommissioned…
    Alas, will keep reading about your lovely journey instead and stick with growing tomatoes.

  18. I’m so glad I found your blog! Been listening to your podcasts for a while,and I find myself always hoping to hear more details about your homesteading adventures. Our went Paleo a year ago (AIP for my 1 yr old son’s eczema – completely healed now. My neck pain=inflammation diminished too), and we have slowly become homesteaders on our 5 acre property. Started with a garden and pet goats for brush clearing. 8 years, 72 fruit trees, 5 goats, 5 sheep, 28 chickens, 3 AGH pigs, and one llama later… we are homesteaders. So refreshing to find your posts because the reality of life in the country is you make do with what you have, and we have quite a few “up-cycled” pens/living quarters for our animals. I sometimes wonder if suburbanite friends who come out to our “petting zoo” look down on our creations, but they’re functional and there is never enough money or time to make it “pretty”. Thanks for all you do for your readers. I look forward to your posts (and hope you figure out how to grow veggies because I suck at it).

    1. Wow, you are well ahead of us! We are beginner-beginner-beginners! Although we’ve been doing it long enough to know that you’re 100% right about there never being enough time to make things pretty. Ain’t it the truth!
      I’m jealous of all your fruit trees – we’ve found the fruit trees that are already here really difficult to take care of; the fruit gets totally attacked by who-knows-what before it’s even harvestable! We’ll see.
      Sounds like you might like the new monthly Modern Farm Girls podcast that we just started doing! You should be able to find it in iTunes. If you listen, you’ll probably be thinking how much MORE you know than I!
      Glad to have you here, Casey!

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