In researching coops, I got the idea of a “chicken tractor” on a smaller scale. This involves a portable chicken house that can be moved to a new place once the chickens have sufficiently grazed and soiled an area. I found a nice little wagon at Tractor Supply and convinced Herb he could build a coop on it. Bless his heart, he wasn’t near as excited about the prospect as I was—being the person who was actually going to do all the work! But the chickens were growing and HAD to get out of the stock tank that had replaced the plastic box. So Herb (with the help of our nephew Justin who was visiting) set to work and made me a beautiful coop on top of the wagon, complete with a double nesting box on the side with a door for getting to the eggs, a shuttered window and vents under the eaves which I screened with hardware cloth, a little chicken-sized door with a ramp for the chickens to go in and out, and a big Susan-sized door to reach into the coop for feeding and cleaning.
Since the girls were going to be living in a nomadic wagon like gypsies, I decided to give them gypsy names and paint the wagon to match. Back to Google again—and I had my chickens’ names: Carmen, Esmerelda, Pepita, Victoria (not really a gypsy, but the daughter of gypsy Pepita AND my niece’s name!), Kizzy and—my little joke—Gypsy Rose Lea! Here is my nephew Justin with his favorite chicken, Pepita.
One day when the coop was not quite ready, and the girls were still in the stock tank, I lifted the hardware cloth cover off of it to carry a load of dirty shavings out to the compost pile. Suddenly I heard a horrible squawk that sounded like a chicken being tortured. I raced back inside the barn, ready to defend my girls—but there was nothing there, and they were looking at me perfectly calmly. Then Carmen, my most beautiful girl with that hint of red in her feathers, stre-e-e-tched her neck up and croaked, “Er-oo!” It was a pretty poor excuse of a crow, but even an old city girl like me could hardly imagine it to be anything else! Oh, my gosh! Carmen wasn’t a chicken—she was a rooster! A rooster in drag! Unfortunately, after nearly two months, it was way too late to think of the imposter being anything but Carmen, so Carmen he is and will remain for the rest of his time at Zephyr Hill!