This story is for all the single ladies! Meet Amber Miller, a chicken keeper that dreamed of having a beautiful coop for her hens and created Freckled Feather Homestead in Carroll County, Maryland. We spoke with Miller about her homestead as we have serious coop envy.
A fun, yet obscure fact about homesteading is the true meaning of the term, homestead. In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, which opened government-owned land to small family farmers. Any head of the family, of at least 21 years old, was allowed 160 acres to try their hand at farming for five years.
It turns out that the Millers are embracing a practice that has been in place since 1862!
"This was a dream of mine for quite some time. I visioned gardens, chickens, and goats when we built our home almost 5 years ago. The gardens were the first project on the Homestead. Then, finally, the day had come! My husband said we could start the coop."
- Coop: 4 foot deep X 6 foot wide
- Run: 4 foot wide X 16 foot long
- 2 cupolas and a weather vane Miller's father made
- 3 easy-access nesting boxes on the left side of the coop
- Large handmade tree perch
- Pulley coop to run trap door
- French coop doors
- Flower and herb window box
"We have a great variety. I am an egg color enthusiast eager to get a rainbow basket. We also wanted some very productive layers and good brooders. I think a good assortment is key."
Research pays off
"A dear friend sent me a picture of a gorgeous white chicken coop. probably, a year prior to the actual build. I fell head over heels. It was the prettiest coop I had ever seen. Humongous too! I picked a few features I loved from that photo and went to work on a piece of sketch paper."
The perch in the run is one of the features that Miller is proudest, an idea that popped into her head one night she had trouble sleeping. Miller took her kids hiking the next day to search for branches. They stripped the bark off, sanded, and cut the branches. Lots of time and work went into that perch.
Miller's goal was to keep the majority of the run as open as possible. She wanted to protect the birds from the elements but still get lots of airflow and sunshine into the run. They free range 90 percent of the time and are only in the run when someone is not home or the family is on vacation.
Fun Fact: Did you know that chickens will absorb vitamin D from the sun? In turn, their eggs will supply us with vitamin D rich eggs.
When asked what Miller loved the most about being a chicken keeper she immediately talked about her children. Miller said there was nothing like the joy that her chickens bring to her children. Like all chicken keepers (myself included), knowing we are eating the most nutritious and freshest eggs possible is also a high priority for her family.
I think we can all relate to this as well,
"This may seem silly but one thing I absolutely love is finding a new layer. It is like Christmas morning! I get over the top excited."
The coop designs we typically write about vary from designs like the Miller's coop and custom chicken coops you can find on forums for backyard chicken keepers. Some folks use garden sheds, storage sheds, a-frame structures, and even dog kennels. We have a chicken tractor or mobile chicken coop as our hen house! When we saw this backyard chicken coop you can see why we had coop envy! From the nest boxes to the chicken run, we loved every feature.
Know someone who would like to add chickens to their flock? Tell us in the comments below!