Sunday, August 10, 2014


The coop is complete, and full of chickens.

We were the highest bidders at the 4H/ FFA livestock auction on the GRAND CHAMPION layer pen!  It was an exciting day.  Not only did we get some beautiful Rhode Island Red hens, had fun at the auction, but we got to support 4H and some young livestock producers.  My wife was in 4H when she was young (she raised steer) and has a lot of very fond memories of it, so it was really gratifying for us to be on the other end of the auction and be able to buy some animals from kids.
If you have never been to a livestock auction, and in particular a 4H/ FFA auction, you are missing out of such an important part of the community.
The auction was a lot of fun- it was a great and supportive crowd full of local business people supporting the kids and the organizations, the auctioneer was excellent and the spotters were super engaged.  It is wonderful to see the kids with their animals, and the fair and auction represents a culmination of months of work.  All, when asked what they were going to do with their money, said "it was going toward savings".  It makes you feel good about the world.
We were only looking for two hens (based on space and the number of eggs we eat), but we ended up buying a pen of three, now we have to decide what to do with the third.  We asked about donating it back to the auction, but that was forbidden.  So I think we are just going to have three hens.  Perhaps expanding the run, too.

So, are these backyard chickens and example of sustainability?

These chickens will provide us with local eggs, and we can control how they are kept and fed, which is nice, but fiscally, this endeavor is not sustainable. I have enjoyed designing and building the coop, and the opportunity to support 4H has been great.  Between the cost of the annual permit, building materials, the Grand Champion layers, it will take us roughly a decade to save money on eggs!  We don't even eat many eggs.  However, we have met our goals on this one.
Proudly displaying our framed chicken permit in the coop.  It has only been recently (2007) that backyard chickens have been allowed in Missoula, and like most things in Missoula, the passage of an ordinance to allow up to six hens was controversial.  Like roundabouts and most things that are proposed, opponents actually said, that if passed, this would kill many children (I am not making this up).  Like the roundabouts, and backyard chickens, they passed. My wife was part of the city council then (and now), and a strong supporter of this ordinance when it was adopted.  So, when I say the permit is proudly displayed, I am proud as a chicken owner, but really proud of my wife's work on council for so many things, including this ordinance.

Here are some pictures with some more coop details:
 On top of the run is a green roof where I planted strawberries.
 Miles (our wired-haired Chihuahua) does not know what to make of the new residents.
 A couple of the roosts.

Yes, I embellished the rafter tails by cutting eggs...
it only made sense after cutting a hen-shaped vent.


  1. Great chicken coop. So many details that made this a unique structure, but the living roof and the chicken-shaped vent? Just fantastic. Congratulations on an impressive project.

  2. Wow. Wonderful. And interesting points about the long-term sustainability. Still, an interesting experiment and a great excuse for building! That coop--oh, a wee green roof!--is amazing. Great details. Billings passed a chicken ordinance a couple years ago--and like roundabouts--it was very contentious. But, so far so good, it seems. Its something Matt and I have considered, but cannot seem to take the plunge on. But, its never seemed particularly sustainable for us either. Plus, while I love birds, but I don't like eggs! :)

    1. Thank you so much! It is a good excuse to build a coop and they are very entertaining. We have been enjoying having them in the garden, and we certainly enjoy the eggs!

  3. Oh, I'm so happy to see the chickens my son raised have moved into paradise! What a wonderful home you have made for those lucky pullets.
    Thank you for supporting 4-H!

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thank you Andre, and Maria for raising such delightful hens! We are really enjoying them. We were so happy to support 4H, and we hope we can get others to do that as well.