The Long-Awaited Coop d’Etat


Having at last reached my personal critical mass with the chicken situation, yesterday I hosted a “barnyard event” for the poultry population. This was only partially successful, but I’ll take what I can get and live to engage battle another day.

This entire chicken ordeal goes back to moving the chickens from Stringtown Rising and letting them out at the driveway. The chickens decided, why go any further? And they settled in right there to roost on and around the studio deck and parade their poo across my back porch.

I’ve been pondering options, but there’s been a lot going on around here in the past three months. Guess what’s broken right now? The furnace. That’s lovely in mid-February. The furnace repairman, aka my cousin, couldn’t fix it so easily this time. He’s getting me a part and will hopefully be able to get it fixed within a few days. He soothed me that it might not be an expensive part. By the way, tip: Heaters are on sale in mid-February, so if your furnace is out, do not completely despair! At least you can buy a cheap space heater. Back to the chickens.

There’s no chicken house here, and while I’d like to build a chicken house, I’m not in the position to do that just at the moment. I decided to try getting the chickens into the weird stall in the barn. It’s that one that is kind of rustic and funky and I have no clue what it was used for in the past. It’s opposite the three horse stalls. (See the barn tour of the stalls here.)

There are even some kind of odd ledges that would work well for roosts. There’s already some straw on the floor from when I had the sheep in there after we first moved. The chickens have taken to laying recently in some smallish cardboard boxes that I had on the back porch (trash from unpacking) so I put some of them in the stall, put out a couple big pans for feed, and a bucket (low enough for chickens) for water. I shut up the sheep and donkeys in another stall to get them out of the way.

Then I called a meeting with the chickens.

Like I had to call them. They’re always right there.

Morgan helped lead the feathered flunkies.

We were already losing the suspicious ones by the time we got to the barnyard.

Casper was not helping so he had to be shut up in the house temporarily. We got the ones still coming into the alleyway.

One hen hopped up into the stall, and we chased a few more in. Then I managed to grab hold of a few more and toss them in, but in the end, I didn’t get a very large crew. But! I got some of them! It was better than nothing!

I shut the barnyard gate on most of the rest of them. Most of them can fly over the fence, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

I shut the stall on the ones that went in (willingly or by force). I’ll have to mount a series of mini coop d’etats to try to get more in there. My goal isn’t to keep them stalled permanently, but to redirect their internal satellite with some temporary confinement. They got settled in around the house, and I was too distracted and overwhelmed at the time to deal with it immediately–allowing the problem to grow. I’ll have to work that much harder to reprogram them. Eventually, my plan is to build a chicken house in the front barnyard, so directing them there now will also work for later.

Back when I collected eggs for my first hatching, the “chicken lady” told me that when her chickens got rowdy and didn’t go where she wanted them to go, she’d lock up the offenders for three days where she wanted them to be to retrain them. Okay. I’ll try that.

Several of them are still stubbornly up at the house.

I told them, “You will never ever NEVER see another speck of chicken food anywhere but in the barn! STARVE if you want to!”

I suspect that eventually I will get the rest of them to move voluntarily once they accept that the food has moved. I won’t even be feeding Casper on the back porch for awhile. I’m going to have him come in the house to eat, then back out. Chickens love dog food, and I need them to see no hope whatsoever for food unless they stick to the barnyard.

It’s no surprise that the Crooked Little Hen is one of the holdouts at the house.

Crooked Little Hen: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never!”

Should I just set her a place at the table already?


  1. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Great plan Suzanne!!!! But you know…. if you set a place for a chicken in your house, make it a platter, in the middle of the table. …ok, don’t everyone get mad at me! I’m just kidding about eating the Crooked Little Hen, HONEST! She’s not supper material anyway and she’s just too darn cute.

    Mostly chickens do have kinda short memories, if you can stay strong and eventually get them all in that nice big warm stall for several days, or possibly a little longer, then keep the feed in there, they’ll fall into line I’m SURE. :chicken: :chicken: :chicken:

  2. Cheryl LeMay says:

    I’d go out at night and take them off whatever place they’re roosting on and take them to the barn. If you can get to them.

  3. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    From time to time several of my chickens decide they need to roost somewhere besides their coop. This usually happens after I let them free range for a few days in a row. We wait until they go to roost at night and do a chicken round up. My kids love it! They see who can get the most chickens back in the coop.

  4. doodlebugroad says:

    I know chickens are fearful of hawks and the “whistle” of a hawk petrifies them … consider a hawk statue on the porch or nearby. I know the plastic owls are plentiful – perhaps a plastic hawk?

    I’ve heard that chickens like to hang out under covered porches because they are well protected from hawk “fly-ins” … the shadow of a hawk swooping in.

  5. gail says:

    That stall look’s like a great place for a chicken house. As for flying over the fence, clip their wings. Just from past experience when moving chickens to a new home I would not let them out for about a week. Then I would let them range for about an hour before sunset they would naturally go into the new home. Increasing the release time until they have accepted the abode. Good Luck ! :dancingmonster:

  6. Remudamom says:

    It’ll work. Just move the others at night after they’ve roosted.

  7. Sheila Z says:

    Food is a powerful motivator. No food near the house should convince them…. eventually. Hope Coco is back soon to protect the barn from night time predators. I hate raccoons or at least I hate what they do to sleeping chickens.

  8. dklenke says:

    Moving the food closer to the barn each day should do the trick. Good luck.

  9. GA_in_GA says:

    I agree with moving them from their roosts at night. Much easier to capture them as they tend to be zombies once it is good and dark. Feeding only at the bard should help get them in the general vicinity.

    My chickens love the dried meal worms, which my daughter calls chicken crack. I can shake the plastic jar and they all come running. It is VERY persuasive to get them where I want them. Lowes & our local TSC have them. Might be worth trying. 😀

  10. outbackfarm says:

    I was going to say that you only should feed them where you want them to be. I have 2 separate flocks. Very well trained by the way. They know who’s in what flock too. The front tribe and the back tribe. I feed the front tribe first and they follow me back to their coop. That’s where they eat. And then the back tribe gets some feed in the little cold frame that I am getting them to fertilize and compost for me. Chickens are really easy to train. You will have them all in the barn soon enough if they know that’s where their food is from now on. That looks like a nice cozy place for chickens. They should be happy there. And they won’t go far from there now that they know that’s where the food is. Good luck getting the rest in! Your place looks great. And mine lay in old milk crates. Great nesters.

    And I am hoping to get out income tax back soon so I can donate to your studio. I am so excited for you! Looks like you are going to make it with time to spare!!!!

  11. girlsewnuts says:

    Suzanne –
    I just recently discovered your Chickens In the Road blog and I am now addicted. I have to tell you this is the most entertaining blog I’ve ever read. Thank you.

  12. Rah says:

    Coop d’etat!–an artful turn of phrase, and if puns are the lowest form of humor, I’m right down there with you. Heh heh.

  13. ZenTopia Acres says:

    Having moved more than a few chickens, I too strongly encourage moving them at night, then keep them confined and well fed for just a day or two in the new location. (It’s rather like introducing a new adult bird to the flock – if it’s daylight the established flock will peck the newcomer terribly. Slip the newcomer into the flock in the middle of the night and they all seem to wake up and think that this bird was always part of the flock.)

  14. Miss Judy says:

    I bet there was a lot of foul er I mean fowl cluckin’ going on today!

  15. Flowerpower says:

    Frankly, I think you should set a place for the Crooked little hen.
    Arent chickens afraid of snakes, hawks or owls? Time for a plastic visitor to come see you on your back porch maybe. When my hens started sitting and I didn’t want them to…we tied strips of material together(black is best) to make a long tail.Catch that girl on the nest and tie that black tail to her tail. She thinks a snake has her….and will run until she can’t. I know its not very nice but its hilarious! She will try to tuck it under her in the nest box but once she sees it again she is off and running. Don’t expect her to lay for a while. By the way…been sick and while I am not here everything goes bust. :happyflower:

Add Your Thoughts