Coop Tour 2014 Map & Info

We invite you to go on a tour of Chicken Coops in the backyards of Cleveland Heights residents. The tour is on Saturday, June 15th and is in two sections: Tour Route A runs from 1-3pm and Tour Route B runs from 3-5pm. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the tour!

Please check out the Interactive Coop Tour Map (Edit:Tour is over so link has been removed) 

While there will be a map posted at each stop, we are not provided printed maps at tour stops this year. So either bookmark a link to the map your smartphone or click here for a printable PDF map.

Sample a backyard egg at the BottleHouse Brewery after the tour!

Collect stickers from 4 different Coops and receive $2 off the Croque Madame Combo, featuring a Cleveland Heights backyard egg! Stickers can also be redeemed for a chance to win a chicken-themed gift basket or backyard eggs. The raffle will be at 6pm inside the BottleHouse Brewery. You must be there at that time to win a prize.

Share your photos of the tour!

While you’re on the tour, please use your smart phone to upload photos to! We can’t wait to see all the wonderful pictures you take.

Gifts for the Chickeneer in YOUR life

Like the obvious? How about a t-shirt?






Or jewelry?




Something for the home?





or something more unusual?





Or do you really just want something for your chickens?




What are you hoping to unwrap for the holidays? Have you found that perfect gift for the Chickeneer in your life? Post any great ideas below and add to the list!

Baking with backyard eggs – What the heck’s a “large”?

Those first few eggs are precious! You probably hoarded them and showcased them proudly sunny-side up for breakfast or delicately sliced them hardboiled to show off those bright orange yolks. But, eventually, the numbers increase and those more plentiful eggs get tucked into homemade cookies and cakes.. But maybe not always with the expected results.. Shouldn’t you get BETTER results with homegrown fresh eggs? What’s going on here?

SIZE! Most recipes call for “large eggs” but backyard eggs can vary widely in size based on things like breed and age of each individual hen. And (as I found out the hard way) they can wreck havoc with your baking recipes -the more eggs the recipe calls for the more the size can throw you off. Luckily, it’s not that hard to grade your own eggs and convert to “standard measurements”. Your flan will thank you!

First, you can weigh your own eggs to determine their US equivalent:

Jumbo eggs weigh more than 2.5 oz
XL eggs weigh 2.25 – 2.5 oz
Large eggs weigh 2 – 2.25 oz
Medium eggs weigh 1.75 – 2 oz
Small eggs weigh 1.5 – 1.75 oz
Pee-wee eggs weigh 1.25 – 1.5 oz

And if your ladies turn out to be churning out something other than the standard “large”, you can estimate the number of YOUR eggs you’ll need to fulfill your “standard” recipe with this handy table from the Rodale Food Center:


Creative ideas for using those empty feed sacks cluttering up your garage

I’ve had chickens for about 2 years now, which means I have a stack of about a dozen feed sacks hanging out in my garage.

They’re huge, heavy- duty, waterproof, often colorful, and I can’t quite bring myself to just throw them out. So.. I’ve been scouring the internet for creative uses for this growing pile, and thought I’d share.

Here’s what I’ve come up with, so far:

Grocery totes – This is my favorite idea. Cute, useful, but requires rudimentary sewing skills. Plus they’re trendy -I’ve seen them for sale online or even at some farmers’ markets -though, not any around here (home business opportunity, anyone?). There are tutorials all over the internet (I like this one from Community Chickens.)

Grow Bag for herbs or tomatoes – Just like those fancy ones you’ve seen on TV. Fill with compost, or potting soil, fold and staple the open end shut, then slash a small “X” in the front to plant your seedling. It’s strong enough to nail the folded end to a two-by-four and hang vertically from a wall or fence. Just cut a hole for watering.

20130927-120737.jpg(Picture posted at by DawnSuiter)

Gift Wrap – Especially when gifting to those who truly appreciate the pure, wild beauty of a chicken!

Placemat – Cut them open (into a single layer) and use them to cover the table during messy art or baking projects.

Text Book Covers – Protect those school textbooks -either white side out or chicken-side out (depending in how cool your kids are). You fold and assemble them just like you would if using brown paper.

Waterproof mailer – Cut the bag to whatever size you need, turn it white side out and use packing tape to turn it into a custom-sized waterproof mailing envelope or package wrapping. You can use permanent marker to write the address.

Anyone have any other ideas? Please comment!

The Rant of an Impatient First Time Chicken Owner

AKA: Lay an egg d@$% it!

I know I am supposed to be patient.

I know they can take up to 6 months to for a chicken lay their first egg.

I know that they’re supposed to get red combs and start squatting before they even think about laying an egg.

But I can’t help myself! Everyday (ok let’s be honest here) Multiple times a day I check the next boxes for the possibility of an egg. I scrutinize the wood chips to see if it has moved at all – indicating someone checking them out. I’ve even sprinkled diatomaceous earth in the nest boxes so I can see if it gets disturbed even in the slightest. Sigh, nothing!

I analyze the girls’ combs regularly. Who has the biggest wattles? Whose comb might be turning red? Is it darker then yesterday? Wait, this one looks lighter than before – how is that possible? How can they be getting darker every day and yet still manage to be pink? Grumble, mumble!

The girls swarm me when I break out the scratch grains. “A treat! Gimme, gimme, gimme! I’ll do anything, just hand over the cracked corn, lady! You want me to lay a what… an egg? What the heck is that?” I toss out the “chicken crack” and they scurry after it – but not a single squat.

I give up and go inside to the laptop. Then I see a post online, “here’s a photo of my first egg” from another new chicken keeper. So I run back outside and check the nest box another time, you know – just in case. (Because, you know, my chickens could be some weird mutants that lay eggs before their combs are fully red. You never know, really! I swear….) Those girls are 18 weeks, plenty old enough to lay an egg – so get cracken’ ladies!

I know, I’ll fire up the grill and throw on some store bought chicken. I’ll tell them that’s what happens to birds that don’t earn their keep!

I just want my eggs, d@#$ it! (It’s gonna be a long wait… I think I’ll go look at some egg baskets online to pass the time.)

How old were your chickens when they started to lay eggs?

Chicken Roosts

When we went to design our chicken coop, we knew we would have to install roost bars for the chickens to perch upon while they sleep at night. I left ample amount of space in the design for them but I didn’t know the recommended details for proper roosts. I had questions like:

  • How high should they be off the ground?
  • How far apart should they be?
  • Should I use a tree branch, a dowel, a 2×2, or a 2×4 piece of lumber?
  • What’s the correct diameter of a roost?
  • How much roost space per bird?

So I did some online research and found so much variation on the answers to the above questions that it can made me crazy. My final decision was to use 2x2s with rounded off corners. I put them at 2’ & 3’ above the coop floor and 14” apart from the wall and each other.

Roosting Bars
Roosting Bars

The chickens are using them and I don’t hear any complaints and don’t see any sores on their feet. So they must find them acceptable and I guess that’s the most important thing.

What do you think makes the best roost? I’d love to hear more opinions and even read some research on it if it’s available.

Chicken Breeds

We decided that we were getting chickens a good 8 months before we actually picked up the chicks. This gave me a lot of time to figure out which breeds of chickens I wanted.

At first, I was overwhelmed by just how many breeds there were. A quick search on Google pulled up hundreds of breeds and tons of information. How was I supposed to wade through all that chicken data? But as I read about the birds I had to choose from, I learned there were some basic qualities of each breed to look for that would help the decision process. Some of those categories are: egg color, feather color, temperament, size of bird, size of egg, broodiness, egg production, and rate of maturity. While I’m sure there are more criteria than that for picking out breeds of chickens, those seem to be the main reasons.

We’re only allowed to have 4 birds in my community so I had to narrow all this down somehow. Being new to this, I used what I could glean from information online and photos I could see. So I made my top two priorities in choosing breeds based on color; color of egg and color of bird.

I wanted a colorful basket of eggs from my chickens, so this was my first credential while choosing a breed. When you look at a chicken catalog, often the birds are sorted into groups by the color of the egg they lay; the main groups being brown, dark brown, blue & white. While there are other colors such as cream, pink & olive for example, they are rare and often lumped into the color group they closest resemble.

I quickly decided that I wanted blue, brown, and dark brown eggs from my chickens. There isn’t much choice when it comes to blue toned eggs, which made that choice easy: Easter Egger. They are sort of a mutt breed of chickens that always incorporates a blue egg gene from a much more expensive breed, the Ameraucana. Each hatchery has their own way of breeding these birds and there is a huge range of how they look. So it would be a mystery of what that bird would actually look like until we brought her home from the hatchery.

The dark brown selection was a bit harder. There are at least a dozen breeds that lay darker colored eggs and even then there is variation within the breed itself. Just because you bought a breed that lays chocolate colored eggs doesn’t mean that your particular hen will lay the egg that is show cased as the perfect egg for the breed. Better get two breeds, I thought, just to be sure I get some darker colored eggs. Welsummers lay dark terracotta colored eggs, sometimes with speckles. Speckles?!! I must have one of those. Then I looked at the Marans, which are supposed to lay some of the darkest eggs in the world of chickens. There are also many different colors of Marans as well. The Blue Splash variant was so pretty – I had to have one of those as well.

So now I had three breeds picked out, there was only one left to choose and it was from the biggest egg color category: Brown. I was trying to choose a range of egg colors that my future birds produced and one of the things I found interesting is that the color group of brown runs the gamut of pale cream to pink to medium brown.  And to top that off, most of the breeds have a huge range in the actual color of “brown” eggs they produce. This was quite the conundrum, so I thought better to just pick a bird for the feather color. I fell in love with the color pattern of the Gold Laced Wyandotte. With feathers such a lovely shade of yellow, each one delicately outlined with a black edge to set it off from the adjacent feathers. Just lovely! Mark it sold!

I placed my order for the selected birds in fall and then poured over photos of what they might look like when I picked them up in the spring from the hatchery. Late March I brought them home and doted over them like a mother hen (pun intended). Slowly I realized that some of my birds didn’t enjoy my company as much as the others. See, what was important to me when I had the actual chicks in my hands was temperament; a quality that I had overlooked very much while picking out breeds. And while I had expected the lovely Gold Laced Wyandotte or the Easter Egger, who would eventually lay those pretty blue eggs, to be my favorite bird. It was the Marans that became the beloved hen. She is quite the tolerant bird and lets me pet her and hold her on occasion.

One of the breeds that I looked over with prejudice was the Golden Buff. I didn’t want to get one because everyone had them. I wanted something different. But what I failed to realize was that they are popular for a reason and it’s not just because they consistently lay an egg every day. Golden buffs are extremely friendly. I didn’t realize just how friendly until the recent Coop Tour when many owners could just reach down and pick up a hen (and not chase them halfway across the yard). So next time I pick out a pet chicken, you can bet that temperament will be on the top of my list. Maybe it will be a Golden Buff, or an Australorp, or a Delaware, or oooo look at that pretty one over there (here I go again)…

What was you reasons for picking your birds?

*Please note that I love my birds and their personalities. They eat out of my hand and come back to the chicken coop when I call them in for the night. Sometimes I wish that at least one of them was more of a lap chicken…