This winter proved to be much colder and longer lasting than recent years. Just when we were making headway with the building of a coop (to house our fast growing chicks) a blast of freezing temps stayed around for days and kept our painting project in a “we’ll get to it when it warms up” mode. I’m guessing if we lived in a more northern location we would trick out our barn with heating so that projects would not be interrupted by extreme temperatures. No matter, the coop got built, painted and put in place just in time for our youngest birds to keep from ducking in order to walk upright in their first housing setup!Juaquin designed and built the coop and we both worked on getting it painted when temps were above 50 degrees during January and February.Our Christmas Eve chicks were growing quickly and we knew that more room was needed for them to run around. We took lots of coop ideas and suggestions and came up with a way to house the chicks in a confined area but in the stall where our second group of chickens were housed. We did not introduce the babies to the older chickens for a month. The newbie chicks could stay secure in the lower ‘nursery’ where they have their own water, food, roosting spots and heat lamp while the older chickens were secure each night in the stall. It proved to be a good set up! Within a week these chicks naturally took to roosting on a wooden rod and a pallet we re-purposed from packing material.By mid March the chicks have grown considerably and we gradually let them have ‘play time’ in the stall before securing them back in the nursery. We never left them unattended as to avoid unwanted pecking from our adults. Watching them run around, size each other up, practice balancing on higher roosting bars and just learning to be chickens is quite fun to watch!We spruced up the stall/coop a bit with an old English bike Juaquin got for me when we were last stationed in England. Some of you may recognize it from when we set it out in front of our bakery, The Cupcake Cottage, in Fort Worth. I love this bike and even trained the babies (our latest batch of chicks) to run and look for food in their nursery when I ring the bike-bell. Now if I could just train ALL of them to poop in one designated spot when I whistle. hummm…Overall, the new coop has worked out well. However, we have decided to make a few modifications to it in the near future. The two levels of nesting boxes can be removed easily and we have decided to take them down and secure them near another wall in the stall. Our newest chickens have been sleeping up on the roosting bars (which is a great thing) but they are also snuggling inside the nesting boxes to bed down for the night. This is not a desirable habit as I am the one that goes and clears out the poo each morning. We will likely create something to block the nests at night until the newbies sleep on the bars only. I also plan to make some curtains for the nesting boxes. We attended a chicken workshop this past Saturday and visited a coop where the nesting boxes had curtains to allow laying hens a little more privacy. (and) Who doesn’t need a bit more peace and quiet while laying an egg? *wink*This is hardly the last you will see or hear of our hobby chickens. They are far more work and worry than I ever imagined but I, and the Mr., love it!