Brooklyn Hipster Chicks – The Urban Coop
Posted July 19, 2011on:
I’d like to take a small poll. How many of you read the word “coop” above as “co-op,” the unique-to-NYC type of apartment ownership that comes with a high monthly maintenance fee and board approval? That’s what many of my Facebook friends assumed when I posted the following status message: COOP WATCH: The coop has shipped! Ironically, I used to own a co-op in Brooklyn and never used the hyphen. Back then, my non-New Yorker friends assumed I meant “coop” as in chickens. Sigh. One can never win.
Back to the Brooklyn Coop, which in this case does mean chickens (as you may have guessed if you read the first installment of Brooklyn Hipster Chicks). Chickens need a house to live in, and deciding on a solution for our yard was no easy task. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, style is a major consideration whenever making a purchase. For me, form is as important as (if not more important than) function. If I’m going to buy something, it might as well reflect my personal aesthetic.
This presented a major problem for me in the way of chicken coops. I had started looking into the issue a few months before the chickens actually came to live with us to see what was available. A friend with a farming background suggested the “Omelet” modern house, but it was just a little too bright and plastic for my taste.
I googled “modern chicken coop” and saw items that were either too modern, or way too large.
But then a few weeks later, the same friend sent me another suggestion: the Nogg. I was smitten.
The Nogg, a new product out of the UK, is a modern hen house made of cedar and shaped like a giant wooden egg (See photo above). Coworkers gathered around my desk as we cooed over the photos online showing little Rhode Island Reds marching down the ramp out of the egg. Finally, a henhouse for someone with style!
The Nogg would look perfect in our yard, I thought, nestled near the blueberry bush. I posted it to my Facebook page with the word “want” written next to it. A chicken-owning friend in Massachusetts (who lives on a real farm) commented on its impracticality. “As a chicken owner,” she wrote, “I’m not so sure. They need lots of fresh air and light to be productive, so the egg design is not that great.” Hmph. Not the feedback I had hoped for.
The Nogg was ultimately ruled out once I saw the price tag: £2,000! (Almost $4,000 in a shitty economy.) While I am willing to pay for design, I am not about to let my wallet get quite so raped. Plus, we didn’t actually have any chickens, so there wasn’t a rush.
Until we did have them, at which point the heat was on. They arrived in a dog crate with a makeshift perch, and it was immediately clear that this would not do. They had almost no space to move around and no protection from rain. As a quick fix solution, we constructed a chicken run that attached to the dog crate. Wobbly and pathetic, it was one of the ugliest things I had ever seen.
We only briefly considered building our own coop. Given what we constructed on our own, it was fairly obvious that we did not have the skills to build something attractive.
And so we hit Google, searching for “prefab chicken coop.” the results were not very promising, and also not very attractive. Within hours, my expectations lowered, I realized we would be paying a lot for something that would look right at home in a back yard in Louisiana.
We discovered websites we never knew existed, like MyPetChicken.com and ChickenCoopSource.com, and learned that PetCo actually sells chicken coops online.
And we also learned that just about every coop available online was sold out or on backorder. We began to feel simultaneously better about ourselves and annoyed, realizing that we actually weren’t weirdoes for having backyard chickens and at the same time wishing they weren’t so damn popular!
After consulting our farm friend as well as some chicken-owning neighbors, we settled on a cute pastel coup that seemed palatable. And it was in stock!
Or so we thought. Days after trying to track the shipment online, a new status message appeared: BACKORDERED.
Back to the drawing board. By now, the chickens has learned to break free from their ghetto coup and hang in the yard, choosing the tiger lilies as their preferred egg-laying locale (foliage = private times).
We couldn’t wait for the coop. And so we found something similar on Amazon.com, a similar style for $100 more (ug) that was ready to ship.
Seven days later, it arrived, and we assembled it on a rainy Saturday. The directions, which were Ikea-esque but even worse, were a challenge, but we got it together. And it only took the chickens a few days to adjust to their new home, and they quickly learned to lay eggs in their nesting box.
In the end, not what I had dreamed of. But in reality, not bad for a Brooklyn coop.
Total Egg Count: 53
Robin Lester Kenton lives in Stuyvesant Heights with her husband, deaf Chihuahua, two kittens, and two chickens. She is documenting her urban farming adventure at Frontier Psychiatrist and at generaltsoandpotpie.tumblr.com. Read the previous installments of this series here.