Farm Farm

Everybody’s in the Dog House

When the goats went up to the breeders in early December it was decided that they would stay there through our Christmas vacation. That way she would, hopefully, have enough time to see if they came back into heat to be sure if they had successfully mated. With Melina we were certain because she went into heat a few days after arriving and did not come back into heat. Cissy decided to wait until right before Christmas, so we’re just hoping for the best with her. Goats are typically pretty easy to breed.

My chickens and goats have happily cohabitated together since we got them. However, when I was showing my chicken sitter, Tonya, around before we left to remind her of the things that needed to be done (she has done this before for me several times and is a very busy dog walker in our neighborhood), she seemed a little nervous about some chickens being in the small ‘breeder’ coop and some being in the big coop. How would she know if everyone was in the right coop at night? How could she properly do a head count every night? While this seemed easy to me every day, I could understand anybody else having some trepidation around it. So, as the chickens in the breeder coop were now full grown and getting a little crowded in there, I made a decision just a few days before I left for Wyoming to “merge the tribes” to make Tonya’s job easier.

Now chickens by nature like routine. When the sun starts to set they go home to roost for the night. Our neighbor’s will sometimes call us in the summer saying that our chickens have wandered into their yard, but we tell them not to worry; they will come home when the sun starts setting, and they do. They also will normally go to the same house, even if there are several coops on your property. However, I have had chickens visit other coops for the night, or form friendships with a particular chicken or different clan and change their coop permanently. So, in the hope of making Tonya’s job easier I decided it was time to merge the girls into the big coop. They had been free-ranging in the yard together for a few weeks, so were by then familiar with each other. Chickens need time to get to know one another. Don’t ever throw two adult chickens that don’t know each other together — they would probably fight pretty badly and hurt each other.

That afternoon when they were all out free-ranging around the yard I went and locked the door to their ramp so they couldn’t get in. Now chickens aren’t all that bright, so I knew they wouldn’t say to themselves, “Hey, our door is locked but the door to that other coop is open so let’s go in there.” Sure enough, come nightfall they were all sleeping outside the locked fenced entrance to their coop. I had to, one by one, pick them up and carry them to the new coop. The next night most of the girls went to the new coop, but their a few that I had to hand-carry in the dark to the new coop again. By the 3rd night they were all adjusted to their new home and Tonya had a much easier job of it.

However, when I returned from our Christmas vacation in Wyoming, I picked the goats up two days later and they now had nowhere to live! Kicked out of their own home! I had been planning on looking into a larger facility for them all, but as usual, time gets away from me. I did, however, have this lovely enormous dog house (41″ W x 45″ L x 52″ H) that I had bought for them as a run-in shed probably a year ago that as been sitting in my driveway ever since. I even bought playhouse windows that open and close that I will install come summer so it will have plenty of ventilation when it’s hot out. For now they need the warmth so the windows weren’t an issue. Getting the dog house up to the fenced in area took the strength of my two neighbors, Jim and me, but we got it moved into place up against the fencing. I cut a hole out of the fence for the entry door and staple gunned the fencing down to the front of the house. It’s not perfect, but it’s not permanent either.

To keep the goats out of the chicken coop (although Melina was so fat that she could barely fit through the door before she left), I had to build up the molding around the doorway to prevent them from squeezing in to the house and getting at the chicken food, which makes them wheeze and gives them the runs.

The goats fiercely protested their banishment from their house for the first few days. Refused to step foot inside of the dog house and no matter what time of day or night I went outside if they heard me they would start screaming at me at the injustice of it all. After a few days though they discovered that it was quite roomy, had a nice bed of straw and hay in it to keep them warm and dry and there were no chickens to use them as perches. Privacy at last.

However, the chickens also decided that this was a pretty nice place to be, and that it was particularly nice for laying eggs in. So now every day I have to squeeze my fat ass through the dog house door and feel around for eggs. Luckily them seem to lay them in the corners so it’s not all that difficult to find them, as long as I don’t get stuck in the doorway like Winnie the Pooh.

And every day I find eggs in the corners of the dog house.

Now while some chickens do lay their eggs where they should — in the coop nesting boxes, I remembered that I had bought this nesting box material for the new chicken/goat house I’m planning on adding so thought I would put some of that in the nesting boxes to see if that might entice them to lay all of their eggs in there. It’s been pretty successful, but I’m still finding eggs in the dog house every day.

Today I went out to discover that somebody (named Melina I suspect) had literally pulled the molding off of the chicken door (I had nailed it in with pretty big nails) and there she was in the chicken coop!

Just try doing some work with curious goats in the way…while Melina’s trying to eat the screws and butt the screwdriver out of the way Cissy was chewing on my rear pants pocket.

I used screws this time. We’ll see if it works.

Oh, and just so we can start comparing the growth of the goat’s already large girth, I’ll share these photos with you taken today.

And here’s Cissy, who’s never been quite as chunky as Melina is.

Now they’ve got 4 1/2 more months to go in their pregnancies. Goats most often give birth to twins. It will be interesting to see how large they get! I’ll keep you updated on that as the months go on.

The fun never ends here on the farm. There’s always something to make me laugh, or somebody that needs their head scratched, or something that needs fixing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


  1. wait… You didn’t tell me the chickens were laying in the dog house! That’s hysterical! I hope they have finally taken to roosting on the poles and have given up on roosting on the side/top of the nesting boxes now that the goats aren’t sleeping in their house any more…for the most part… Maybe when you get your new coop built the goats can have the chateau pouillet. Gawd, they are so bitchy!!!


  1. […] you may have read in my last farm post “Everybody’s In The Dog House“, my goats have been booted from their home by the chickens and are now living in a (very) […]

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