all cooped up

  • Jun 13, 2010

In a household of boys, nothing is better than a massive, creative, power tool wielding project. After admiring various chicken coops on the web they decided to steal the best ideas from all of them and add a few of their own. Without blueprints or plans they measured, leveled, drew diagrams, pounded shingles and cut corners and circles and angles.

My only contribution was running to Home Depot four thousand times, painting (and painting and painting) and adding the cutesy details.

I loved working beside them, listening to them joke and problem solve and holler with triumph when something worked. More than once Erik and the boys said to me– “Thanks for giving us such a cool project to work on.”

We moved the chicks into the coop about 7 weeks ago (no, they haven’t been living in my bathtub all this time) but didn’t get it quite finished until Memorial Day weekend.

First, you ring the bell– “Good morning chickens!”

Check the outdoor run first.

it makes it’s own noise with an old-fashioned shopkeepers bell ($9 Lonestar Hardware)

nobody’s there (all those photos of coop perfectly pristine coops on BackyardChickens? Someone took those before the hens moved in.)

hmm, are they under here?

maybe in the roost?



Every stereotype about chickens seems to ring true. They love each other and are always together. When we let them out of the coop they move in a cluster and cluck with concern when one moves out of sight– they really, really remind me of thirteen year old girls.

The farmer’s store has signs everywhere. “You must buy at least three chicks.” They’ll die if left alone. I’m finding all kinds of meaning in that concept.


We built a nesting box for each of them, but they like to crowd into one.


the nesting boxes from the outside


Sometime in August, we’ll open the upper door to collect eggs from the nesting boxes. The bottom doors are simply storage.

the chicken ladder. We were amazed that they instinctively knew how to use it.



Abby taking a stroll. Since these photos were taken we planted the honeysuckle against the fence. My thought was that the honeysuckle would combat the chicken smell– but they’ve been surprisingly unstinky. I think it’s the wood shavings in the roost.


Despite their ever-increasing size (can you believe they are not quite three months old?), the chickens are as gentle as chicks and happy to be held.


love, love, love

p.s. hopefully this balances enough information for people looking at chicken coop construction without boring the rest of you. Oh yes, the measurements are approx. 4′ wide, 11′ long and 7′ tall. Everything is from Home Depot except the bells and star which came from our cool local hardware shop. Here’s a nice dull front shot:


p.p.s. I have many more photos and much more to share about Betsy, but I think this post is long enough. Don’t you?

p.p.p.s. OK, just one more.
“I’m a chicken!”
June 12, 2010
June 14, 2010



  1. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Oh WOW!

    Too, too cute.

    And very manly construction, guys!

  2. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Holy cow (I mean chicken). That is just about the cutest thing I have seen!

  3. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Ok, thank you, thank you for posting about this. We collected some great ideas from this post. We’ve got a weathervane and a star for our coop and i’m glad to know that you added your cutsie details as well. Love it! So many coops are eye sores and yours isn’t one of them!

  4. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Terrific setup! Love the red coop. We’ve four illegal hens, and the neighbors love them. I can’t see being without chickens ever again.
    PS I’d *love* to see more posts. Your little girl is adorable.

  5. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Oh. My. Wow. Is there a chicken coop building contest y’all could enter?


  6. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Very impressive!

    Major props to the guys.


  7. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    That is the most amazing chicken coop I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few. We had a friend in CO with a chicken coop nicknamed ‘The Taj Mahal’. They wanted to make their chickens as comfortable as possible so they’d lay lots of eggs.

    (The best trick was a light in the winter to fool the chickens systems)

  8. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Oh wow – I am impressed, I had no idea how big a chicken coop would be. Truly a labor of love and family. LOVE it.

  9. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    I had chickens growing up and my favoirite thing to do would be to call them… “Chicky Chicky Chicky…” and have an apple in my hand. They would all come up and eat the apple from me. They knew when I said that what was coming. Your daughter should try it. Cute chicken house!!
    Debbie (Melinda Curtis’s Friend)

  10. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    You would think you lived in Tooele or something. Looks like farm country.

    LoVE Mary’s red gingham, the AmaZING coop and of course the chicks! And your analogies are spot on.

    You guys are awesome!!

  11. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    The quaintest chicken coop ever! And Miss Mary is adorable with the chicks.

  12. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Oh Michelle, it turned out just DARLING! I love it. Beautiful pictures too, as always. Oh and I never commented but LOVED your sons’ “boys camp” or whatever they called it. I was thinking one day should include movie making too since they are so good at that!

  13. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    Love this, Michelle. What great ideas. And photos. If I were a chicken, I would be thrilled and content to live at the L-ardt house.

  14. Reply


    June 14, 2010

    I love the photo where your daughter is hugging the chicken and also the one right below it.

  15. Reply


    June 15, 2010

    You are about to send me over the edge to purchasing chickens! Since your boys probably couldn’t come here to build me a coop, would they be able to sell me their plans? I love that coop!

  16. Reply


    June 15, 2010

    You are a cool chick.

  17. Reply

    Nells Bells

    November 23, 2013


  18. Reply

    Diana Eville

    December 31, 2013


  19. Reply


    January 29, 2014

    Oh this is the Heather Bullard Coop…I love it

  20. Reply

    Ishmael Graham-Yaeger

    April 8, 2014

    could you possibly send me the rest of the pictures you have of the coop and how many chickens can live in there?

    love the design working on a ranch/farm setup… i appreciate it…

  21. Reply


    March 12, 2015

    Hi Michelle!

    We are in the midst of building my chicken coop. The chicks are 1 week old and so my husband and kids have a few more weeks to get it done. I just love the color red you chose. Would you mind sharing the paint name? It is such a happy color and perfect for a hen house. Thanks so much! Jacquie

  22. Reply


    June 3, 2015

    I would love to know the name of the paint and color! And if you wouldn’t mind sharing the prints for the coop! You can email to me. I love this coop we are planning on building one this fall! And this looks perfect!! Thanks

    • Reply

      June 3, 2015

      I’m so sorry– we didn’t have any blueprints. We just made it up as we went. And I don’t remember the paint color but it was something like Barn Red.