Why, Yes…Our Backyard Chickens Do Have Names
I shouldn’t find it funny, really…that one of the most common questions people ask about our chickens is “Do they have names?”. Although having chickens as pets is trendy in some circles, it’s still not the norm…so given that most peoples’ context for chickens is what they’re having for dinner, it’s not that odd of a question. But yes, each of our 7 backyard chickens has a name…and their own distinct personality too.
No, we don’t cuddle with them, but we do pet them…and do consider them as part of our extended family….and with their daily gift of eggs, a productive part of our extended family! Although not as common, we’re also often asked if we plan on eating our chickens…the answer to that is, no – just their eggs. There’s just something a bit unsettling about eating something that you’ve named and spent a good bit time with. Wasn’t that at the heart of Wilbur’s story in Charlotte’s Web.
Introducing Our Ladies
Anyway, to ward off any additional name questions during our friends’ future visits to Scott Family Farm, I built a sign with each of their names to hang on their coop. Besides having some functional value, I think it also turned out really nice…adding a layer of homespun charm. Before I explain how I built the sign (below…if you’re interested), I think it only right for me to first introduce our ladies to you:
- Henny – A Barred Rock and our last remaining hen from our original 5, Henny was once paired with another Barred Rock named Penny…from the Henny Penny/Chicken Little folk tale. But poor Penny was killed by a possum during an early attempt at allowing our flock to free range. Despite the fact that Henny is one of our smaller hens, she’s the flock’s true Mother Hen…calm and a bit broody at times, but demonstrating where she stands in the pecking order whenever needed.
- Ginger – A Golden Comet (a sex-link hybrid between a Rhode Island Red rooster and Rhode Island White hen), Ginger is the first to greet us whenever we visit the coop. She is very social and is also always the first to the treat bucket.
- Merabeth – Another Golden Comet, Merabeth was effectively named by the farmer we bought her from when he suggested that we name her after Littlest One (either he was hard of hearing or I garbled my words…probably a little of both). Anyway, Merabeth is our most docile hen…letting us hold and pet her for as long we’d like.
- Polly – We felt like we needed to give Henny a friend after Penny’s unfortunate demise…so we got another Barred Rock and named her Polly…going off the “P” in Penny. Larger than Henny, Polly is a bit more skittish and if she’s not in the mood to be held she’ll flap the tar out of you.
- Mayzie – At the time we bought Merabeth, Polly, and Mayzie…Brown, our oldest daughter, was in a Dr. Seuss production playing the role of Mayzie…a beautiful, yet self-absorbed red bird. Being the reddest of our 3 Golden Comets we decided it was the perfect name for Mayzie.
- Marigold & Hazel – The last 2 additions to our flock were both Easter Eggers. We got Marigold & Hazel in a trade for “Lyle”…a white Silkie rooster – who was originally named “Lilly” because she/he/it was supposed to be hen…but wasn’t. We specifically wanted an Easter Egger because they lay green eggs…and bonus, our friends were gracious enough to give us 2! They are the most skittish of our flock…but I think that has more to do with the fact that they were not around humans as much when they were young than it does their breed.
- You may have noticed that I skipped the first name on the sign…Rosie Mae. Well that’s because she’s not a chicken at all, but our Mini-Rex bunny…who lives next door to the chickens in the left third of the coop…divided by chicken wire.
[If you want to get to get to know are ladies better, check out the video below that I produced after I originally published this post.]
How I Made the On the Farm Name Sign to Introduce Our Backyard Chickens
Making our On the Farm sign introducing our feathered friends (+1 bunny) was actually quite easy…and because I already had all the materials from previous projects, it cost me absolutely nothing.
What I Used:
- Miter saw
- Old tongue & groove flooring…weathered
- Britt’s Cricut machine to make the stencils for the writing on the sign.
- Painter’s tape
- Exterior black paint
- Thompson’s WaterSeal…clear multi-surface water proofer
- Small brass cup hooks painted black with Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch flat black indoor/outdoor spray paint
- 4 #8 eye screws
- Screw driver (to help tighten the hooks and eye screws)
- Wood glue
- Black nylon webbing…like what’s used for backpack straps
- Black chain left over from an exterior light fixture
What I Did:
- Made the name boards:
- Using my miter saw, I cut a single board to size for each name of our lovely ladies (approximately 28”).
- After spray painting the brass cup hooks black (since brass screams “new”) with Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch flat black indoor/outdoor spray paint, I measured and installed 2 hooks equidistant to the left and right on the top of each board (and I chose the “tongue” side to be the top so that water wouldn’t get caught in the “groove” if that side had been on top)…and then 2 hooks directly below to the left and the right on the bottom/“groove” of each board…so each board had 4 hooks total. Where it didn’t feel like the hooks gripped tightly enough, I added a blob of wood glue before screwing them in. (I probably should have done this with all of them, but I was already a third of the way through before I got to the first “loose” one…and my fingers were tired.)
- Finally, I twisted the top hooks so that they would open towards the back and the bottom hooks so that they were sideways. That way when I connected the signs everything would line up correctly.
- Made the name boards:
- Using Britt’s Cricut machine we created a stencil for each of the hen’s names (and the words for the “head board”).
- Note, the Cricut font we used is Alphalicious. You can find it here. We “shadowed” the letters, tweaked the sizes at times to our liking, and for letters like “B” and “S” we flipped them so that the “fatter” end was on the bottom vs. top…just looked better to us.
- I adhered a name stencil on each of the individual name boards with painter’s tape…then using the same black exterior paint we’ve used for the doors and shutters of our home, I painted over the “negative” stencils…leaving the name painted on the sign.
- After the names dried, I removed the stencils and sanded everything down to make it look a bit more weathered…like the wood.
- Lastly, since the sign would be outside, I sprayed a thin coat of Thompson’s WaterSeal to on all sides of each board…hoping it would extend the life of everything a bit longer.
- Constructed the “head board”:
- I cut 2 boards 2” longer for the “head board”…from which all the other name boards would hang…one to the next.
- Using wood glue, I first glued the 2 boards together…tongue & groove style. Since everything else was going to hang from these boards, I added additional support by connecting the boards with a staple gun and some nylon webbing that I had left over from a previous project.
- I then painted the On the Farm stencil…and finished things off as I did the name boards. (I actually did all this painting and finishing at the same time I did the name boards.)
- Lastly, after one failed attempt at using the same smaller painted brass cup hooks to hang the name boards to the “head board”, and then it to the coop, I ended up using larger zinc eye screws (#8) on the “head board”…and then I connected the black chain to the top eye screws.
- Constructed the “head board”:
That’s it…my sign was complete. Then all I did was hammer in a large nail just below the mule deer antlers in the center of our coop…hung the “head board”and then connected each of the name boards in the order in which we added the hens to our flock. Again, I really like how it turned out and think it helped complete things. What do you think?
What have you done to personalize your chickens and/or coop? I’d love to hear and then share it with all the other chicken-loving ground redeemers.
Lastly (shameless plug here)…if you’re like me and you want to let the rest of the world know that you raise chickens, check out our brand-spankin’ new tees over at The RYG Store. Okay…I’m done.
Take care all,
- My Top 5 Chicken Coop Designs
- Our Chicken Coop Design (Part 1 of 2…err 3)
- Our Chicken Coop Design – Front Elevation (Part 2 of 3)
- Our Chicken Coop Design (Part 3 of 3)
- The Real Truth about Backyard Chickens
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Oh! I just love getting to “know” your little ladies! And that sign is too cute… the perfect addition to that amazing coop!
Thanks Mz. Brandi! You and your Mr. Mister need to come over for brunch one Saturday AM and enjoy the “fruits of our little ladies labor”…literally and figuratively. Cheers, D.
Hey Doug, love the sign! So cute. Can you give me a round about number of how much it costs to build a chicken house about the size of yours? We are wanting to get started on a chicken house for us soon …just trying to “budget” it along with our many other projects. Thanks! Miss ya’ll, Jackie
Thanks Jackquie’! I’ll reach out to you directly on the costing of things. I hope you and the family are well! Take care, D.
I absolutely loved this post. I want to make my own name board at our farm for all the different animals. I think it would be awesome to have for my sheep and goats too. I also think I would adapt it somehow to include the amount of feed each animal or pen gets so if we have an emergency, a friend or one of our grown children could step in and feed for us. thanks for the inspirations!
Janet…awesome! Thanks so much for your post. I think that’s a great idea…to add the amount of feed for each animal…making it even more functional, while personalizing your pet farm animals! We have thought about adding icons to beside the names of our hens indicating a bit more about that…e.g., bunny ears or a carrot for Rosie Mae and then a colored egg indicating what color egg each hen lays. Thanks again for your comments and encouraging words…much appreciated. Take care, D.
How have I missed your blog? I love it! New fan here, in fact I’m your first bloglovin’ follower :0)
Fresh Eggs Daily
Lisa…thanks so much for your kind words my fellow chicken-loving friend! I just saw your blog…and love it too. I just subscribed…and just waiting on my email subscription confirmation. I look forward to reading your post and learning from a real pro! Take care, D.
Hello Doug, I Love your chicken name sign. I’m a newbie with chickens, bought 4 in the spring time and have fallen in love with them. They aren’t laying yet, I’m patiently waiting…
I live west of Atlanta in Bremen, Ga. Where are you guys located?
Sheila: Thanks for your kind words re: our sign…and it sounds like you’re hooked on your chickens like we are ours! And don’t worry…they will eventually start laying eggs and when they do you’re in for a healthy & delicious treat. Take care, D. (…oh…and we live just north of Atlanta…)
I stumbled upon your website because I was looking for “black cup hooks” and you mentioned that you simply spray painted some brass hooks with black paint. If it worked for you then it will work for me especially since I can’at find any reasonably priced black cup hooks!
I’ve wanted chickens for a long time but we have a problem with predators. We have mountain lions and even our cats can’t go outside. We are a suburb of Houston, TX. I’ll just have to remember playing with my Grandma’s chickens!
Yea, I looked and looked for black cup hooks and could never find them either…so I just made my own…which was very easy. I hope you found it easy as well. And yes…we love our chickens…but if you have a problem with predators, it may be best that you do just think back to Grandmas’s! Take care, D.
I love the sign! Our girls are named and loved as well. Our cat,
Rusty, is totally entertained watching them and our miniature
Schnauzer thinks they are hers, since she helped us raise them
as biddies. Your article made me think of our first coop for our
Chicks that we built. It was an A-frame coop, painted red and
since I could not resist a play on words, I painted a sign naming
their coop The Chic-cha-let, after the Chic-fil-a enterprise !
Not that we would EVER consider eating our pets! They are great
egg layers(barred rocks &
Thanks so much Leigh! We love our ladies…and the sign not only let’s everyone know their names but demonstrates that they are important to us as well. Thanks for your comment…it’s always nice to find fellow chicken-lover friends! Take care, D. (By the way…it looks like your comment got cut off…I’d love to know what other kinds of chickens you have…barred rocks and…?)
Oops! Sorry about the cut off! We have barred rocks &
Production reds…8 girls to be exact. They have brought
great humor, eggs, & entertainment to our lives. We also
share our excess eggs by donating them to a local food
bank when possible as well!
Awesome…thanks for the continuation of your comment Leigh. Our flock looks fairly similar…2 Barred Rocks…3 Red Sexlinks (Comets)…and then 1 black/gray Easter Egger and 1 red/cream Easter Egger. 7 in all. Great pets on a number of levels. Thanks again for your comment and I hope you and yours have a great weekend. Take care, D.
Hello, Your chicken coop is just beautiful. I want one just like yours. Also, very nice idea of the sign with the names of your chickens.
Thanks Patrick…for your kind words…all the way from France! We love our coop…and our feathered friends…enough so that we thought they were deserving of the proper introduction our sign provides. I look forward to hearing about your chicken coop chateau! Take care, D.
What a great idea…will have a try it. Thanks!
Thanks Linda! Would love to see what you come up with! – Take care, D.
Beautiful! Can you tell me how to find information to make a chicken coop like that and the cost?
Thanks so much Sharon! We like it…and I think my girls do too! As for info on the chicken coop…couple things: 1. if you scroll down to the end of the post you’ll see a number of “related posts”. Check those out and I think you’ll find what you’re looking for. And 2. stay tuned, in the next several weeks I’ll be publishing an ebook of sorts with a printable version of the posts on the design of our coop to make it easier to print off and see in one place. As for the cost…it’s tough to say…but it was quite a bit. That said, I don’t want to discourage anyone from moving towards chicken ownership by thinking they have to spend as much as I did on mine. I also did a good amount of the work myself…so that wouldn’t be factored into any # I’d be able to give you. However, if you want to know more, simply reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can pick up the conversation there. I trust you understand. Thanks again for your encouraging words and for chiming into the discussion. Thanks, D.
I love your sign, and we are making one very similar. I would love a little bit more info on the stabalizing of the antlers, if you don’t mind! I have a pair of antlers that my husband shot & think (like your coop) it would be a cool/personal touch to go over the name sign! Could you tell me how it stays up there, if it is just sitting on a nail?
Thanks so much! Your coop is absolutely gorgeous!
Hey Julia, First of all…thanks for reaching out AND for your encouraging words about our coop and chicken name sign! Unfortunately, we’ve had a “death in the family” and have gotten rid of 2 bullies. So some of those names have come down. Fortunately, we have 3 new chicks whose names will be added…I just have to get out the paint and stencils!!
As for the antlers, well…it’s actually quite simple. They are just screwed in with a single screw. The way that the antlers/skull are cut I simply placed them where I wanted them to go and screwed it in. If your antlers don’t have as much skull (and I know some of you won’t like reading that), then I’d suggest that you simply get a small block of wood and place it under the antlers before you screw it in. Your wood may need to be cut into a wedge to get the angle you’re looking for.
Hope this helps…and thanks again for reaching out. Feel free to do so anytime. Cheers, D.
Hi! I love your sign and I want to make my own (smaller) version for my upcoming flock. I was wondering how you created the stencils, as I am at a loss for how to do that. i have terrible writing/painting so I don’t want to freehand it. Thanks!
Agreed Sophie…trying to freehand them would be a challenge…at least it would be for me. Fortunately Britt has a Cricut machine (http://us.cricut.com/home/) that she used to create stencils for me to use for each of our hens’ names. If you don’t have a Cricut, you could also use stencils that you can find at most craft stores, like Michael’s (http://www.michaels.com/). It will just take more time putting together all the letters to spell the names. I hope this helps. Reach out if you have any other questions. Take care, D.
I’m not sure which I like more, the coop, the sign or the fact you name your chicks. So adorable. Have a wonderful weekend!
Thanks Andrea…I like them all too! We love our coop..and I think our ladies do too. I really enjoyed making the sign with our girls and we really like how it turned out. And naming our feathered friends is something we really enjoy…always trying to have a story behind each one of them. Thanks again for chiming in Andrea…and I hope you have a great weekend too! – Take care, D.
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Is it possible for rabbits and chickens to live in the same area without separation? I’m wanting to combine ours and haven’t been able to find information on the viability of this.
Angel…thanks for reaching out with your question…and for checking out our coop/hutch combo on RYGblog! Much appreciated. As for having your chickens and bunnies cohabitate, we had the same question when we built our coop. We couldn’t find any information on the subject either, so as you can tell from our design, even though they are in the same structure, we have them separated by a chicken wire “wall”. Although separated, they seem to enjoy being neighbors.
That said, since then I have done a bit of research…and although we haven’t mixed our furry and feathered friends, it appears that it can be done; however, not without some risk…primarily if you have an aggressive rabbit…or I guess an aggressive hen. Here’s a link that you might find helpful: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/186971/can-chickens-and-rabbits-live-together-in-the-same-coop.
Thanks again…and please reach out if you have any questions…or if you do mix your bunnies and hens, let the rest of us know how it goes!
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I was wondering what font this is in? Many thanks
Hallianne…thanks so much for reaching out with your question. And it’s a good one…something I should have shared on the post itself…and will now. It’s Alphalicious. You can find it on the http://www.cricut.com website or on Amazon here – http://amzn.to/1WUyphU.
I believe we “shadowed” all the letters…and tweaked things a bit…slightly changing the sizes of the letters…and for some, like the “B” and the “S” we flipped them so that the “fatter” end was on the bottom vs. the top. Make sense? Just looked a bit better to us.
I hope this helps…and thanks again for chiming in with your question. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Take care, D.
Hi! Is this type of chicken coop available to be purchased and delivered?
Hey Michelle…no, unfortunately our chicken coop is not one that can be purchased and delivered as a kit. I designed and built it myself…along with the help of my handier friends! If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, hopefully the information I provided…although not in a step-by-step way…will help you on your way. If you’re not, there are a number of chicken coops that can be purchased/delivered…although typically a good bit smaller than mine and still requiring a good deal of assembly though. My friend Lisa Steele from Fresh-Eggs-Daily (http://www.fresheggsdaily.com/) recommends coops built by the Urban Coop Company (http://urbancoopcompany.com/). Perhaps you’ll find something there that would meet your chicken-coop-needs. Thanks for reaching out Michelle…and take care, D.
I love your coop. It is beautiful. I would love to have fresh eggs. I have a question about cleaning your coop. How often do you clean the shavings out and what do you do with the waste?
Mary…I’m so sorry that I’m just now replying to your question. First of all…thanks for your kind words about our coop. Our whole chicken coop area has become a favorite part of our backyard. And yes…we LOVE having farm fresh eggs…and hope that you and your family will too someday!
As for how often we clean often we clean out our shavings. We use the deep litter method…so we actually fluff them up every couple of weeks (increasing the airflow helps things dry out more quickly…and hence, keep the smells down). We then add shavings every month or so. Although other folks may clean out their shavings completely from the coop more often, we probably do it every 3 or 4 months. We’ve found that as long as things stay dry we don’t have to any more often than that.
Then…as for where we put the waste, fortunately we have an area in the far corner of our yard where we simply pile it up as compost. We’ve found that there really aren’t any bad smells coming from that area.
Hope this helps. Please reach out with any other questions and I’ll try to get to them more quickly.
Really love your sign. I printed out the directions, but I have one question. How wide are the boards? First time chickens will start in the spring.
Hey Jerry…thanks! We like our sign too – it just adds a touch of personality and texture to the space.
To answer your question…each name sign/panel is 24″ wide…and the “On the Farm” header sign is just a bit wider. That said, I decided on the width based on the space it was hanging vs. how wide I needed it for the names. If it was much smaller I felt it would look too dinky where it’s hung.
Thanks for your comment/question Jerry…and please reach back out if you have any questions. Take care, D.
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Hello. My family has bought a horse farm south of Atlanta and this year chickens and a garden will be added. Any hints on cost or tips to make a coop like this would be greatly appreciated! We are a city family embracing the country life! Reclaiming our sanity and family for sure.
Hey Nicole, Thanks so much for reaching out! I’m jealous of your horse farm!!!! Some day! And so glad there’s another city family doing their best to embrace a country life!
If you haven’t seen it already, I’ve pulled a number of our chicken-raising posts together into an eBook. And at the very back I pulled together any of the posts that had to do with the design of our chicken coop. You’ll find tips peppered throughout. Here’s the link where you can get your very own copy: https://redeemyourground.com/chicken-ebook-is-here/
And here’s the link to the 1st of a 3 part series I did on our chicken coop design. Although you’ll find it in the eBook above, you might also find the comments below helpful…as people asked questions and I answered them as best I could. Make sure to click on the other 2 related posts in the series (you’ll find links at the bottom)…as there are some potentially helpful comments on those links as well.
As for the cost of our coop, that’s really tough to say…as I’ve said in some of my comments. We used a good bit of scrap wood from previous projects…and the cost of lumber fluctuates quite a bit. At the same time we also built the shed…which you may or may not need. Besides that, when we built our coop we had no idea we’d ever be blogging about it! But I’d a rough guestimate would be about $3K. Not cheap…I know. But it’s a big’ole coop…and we wanted to make it as nice as possible…thinking that would not only be good for our feathered friends, but make it more enjoyable for us to be around it/them…i.e., more sustainable. Make sense?
Please reach back out if you have any other questions.
Thanks again Nicole and take care, D.
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