We are not natural carpenters here Chez Bumblebee. So when we set out to build the chicken run for the Palazzo di Pollo (Italian for Chicken Palace), we were making it up as we went along. I provided the genius grand design. Harry provided the muscle and skill with the post hole diggers. We both contributed fingers that were pounded and bruised by the end of our building project.

We are now ready to unveil the Palazzo di Pollo.

Drum roll, please…

Tah dah!

Just to be very clear, and in the interest of full disclosure, we did not build the actual chicken coop. That is a children’s playhouse build by some local Amish craftsmen. We built that ugly, crooked, wacky screened in porch that the chickens access via two little ramps and an open window. And, yes, it took us about three days spread over three weekends to do it.

Chicken wire encloses the whole run. The wire is dug about 12″ into the ground to deter burrowing predators. We have made efforts to put chicken wire over any opening. Of course, the chickens are closed into their Palazzo at night. Except during their free-range time, when we throw caution to the wind for a couple of hours, the girls should be safe.

Throughout the whole building process my son Ben kept asking me, “Do you really think they’re going to go through that little window?”

“Of course! Chickens love ramps, bridges and acrobatics,” I responded, fingers crossed behind my back. “I’ll probably teach them all sorts of tricks before long.”

Despite my enthusiasm, I will say that the chickens are not, uh, well, they’re not very smart. They seem to have to learn to go up, through the window and down the ramp each and every day.

Also, this is only their third day in the Palazzo, but they seem to be indoor chickens. Unless they are free-ranging they seem to prefer the indoor comfort of the Palazzo. I suppose the pine bedding-lined nest box condos, the roosting bars, the 24-hour buffet, three-speed ventilation fan and dual panel heaters and all are just too much to pass up for scratching in a pen.

But if I go outside and call them, they come storming through the window—no doubt looking for the corn treats they get at the end of the day.

Yes, all this for three chickens—so far.

We have two other chickens that have moved to the Eglu. You may remember them—Minnie Ruth and Olive (previously Olivia). Well, today they revealed a huge surprise.

As I was out walking I heard two very distinct “cock-a-doodle-doos!” I may not know a lot about chickens but I know enough to be sure that a hen does not make that kind of noise. That is a very distinctive rooster noise.

As I started thinking about it, we may actually have TWO roosters. They do seem to have been doing a lot of sparring since we moved them into the Eglu on Saturday where I can spend more time observing them.

Only time will tell if they are nice roosters. But one thing is certain, I do not need two roosters to tend to my three hens. One—and maybe both—will need to find a new home.

I did not get pet chickens only to be afraid to walk into the chicken coop. Right now, the chickens let me pick them up and pet them. They may not actively jump into my lap, but they are quite tame and friendly, eating from my hand and following me around.

Well, enough about chickens. With all this activity, I have been giving some thought to what I’ll be writing about this winter when the garden goes a bit quiet. I have some thoughts I will share in the next day or two.


In answer to a couple of emails—YES! We will be getting more chickens in the spring. As a novice, it is one step at a time though.

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  • Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Well wonder the chickens don’t want to be outside. When living in a palace it would be difficult to drag outside. It all sounds marvelous. No doubt they will get used to going in and out, up and down. Lucky ladies.
    I hear roosters make good chicken and dummplings.

    Call me sentimental, but I couldn’t possibly eat one of my chickens. Not even a mean rooster!


  • Vertie says:

    What no DVR, high-speed Internet, Netflix subscription? You really are making them rough it, aren’t you?

  • It is just too cute for words, Robin. Even with the hens in the photo it’s hard to get the scale of the Palazzo – maybe 8 feet at the peak with a 4 and1/2 foot tall front door?

    Luckily one of the local nurseries has chickens running around – I’ll head over there if your posts make me need to hear some live clucking.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    The outside dimensions are 8′ x 14′. But inside is probably 9′ 7′, not including a small loft we’re using for storage. I have room to grow my little flock–probably in the spring.


  • MA says:

    Been waiting to see the palace! TaDah! Indeed. Mighty fine digs. Hope the cluckers are all very happy. the roosters as well. 0x

  • Most chickens don’t get a ventilation fan and heater panels, so I’m not surprised they are happy to stay indoors.

    It’s been a few days now and I think they’re finally getting the hang of the outdoor run. They’re gradually spending more time out there. And whenever I go outside and call them they come running, of course.


  • Gail says:

    Your chickens might have a better apartment then I had in college! So Oliver (formerly Olive who was formerly Olivia) and Mr. (formerly Minnie Ruth) are moving out!

    Actually, I used to live in a garden apartment in CA in my younger days that was about this size!


  • susan harris says:

    LOVE your chicken adventures – keep ’em coming!

  • That is as grand a chicken palace as I’ve ever seen! Perhaps, with all its ‘comforts of home’, it can become your hideaway, too, where you go to do some writing this winter?

    The thought crossed my mind more than once while working on this that I might like it for myself, yes.


  • Cindy says:

    I’m with Carol, forget the chickens, that would be MY hideaway!

  • TC says:

    Their coop looks nicer than my human one. Will y’all be painting the pen posts?

    My paternal grandmother had chickens. She performed something one time for me and my little brothers; I won’t go into details, but she knew what to do with an extra rooster.

    We talked about painting the posts but decided not to. They are treated wood. The outdoor painted–or rather stained–wood that we have requires a lot of maintenance. I have enough to take care of without having to paint the chicken run every year.


  • The coop looks fabulous! Good job. As for the roosters…that is my fear when I get my own chickens. We are not allowed to have roosters in the city. I would hate to have to find a new home for them after the kids get attached to them. But it happens!

  • Haley says:

    I sat up straight when I saw on my blog you had posted about the fancy house. I love it!!!

  • Lorie says:

    My daughter would be jealous of your chicken coop!

  • RuthieJ says:

    Wow, I’m impressed! That’s a great looking chicken abode!

    At one of my previous jobs (a home-based business) they also had chickens and one day when we got to work we found out from the owners that a mink had gotten into the chicken house–through the outside chicken run–and killed and dragged away several chickens the night before. It was pretty awful. So even though I’m not a chicken owner, my advice is to think about adding another layer of heavier wire–at least around the lowest portion of the chicken run. I don’t know if you have mink running wild in Virginia, but some of the other members of the weasel family might be able to get through regular chicken wire also.

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi, Robin, This post is a hoot (so to speak) and I can fully relate. I had two chickens in S.Rosa for quite some time. One was a very nice rooster who let me pick him up, named Chanticleer. And the other was his polka dot bantam girlfriend, Henny Penny. They sometimes slept in the guesthouse in kennels,so, uh, yeah. You do what you can to protect them, right? Yours are lucky and you will be delightfully entertained, I’m certain. Good luck with those boys!
    You’ll need it. 🙂

  • eliz says:

    Oh. My. God. That is amazing.

  • […] extensively about chickens lately, since my recent home project has been the construction of the Palazzo di Pollo. I have posted some of my favorite recipes, including my all-time favorite Italian cream cake. I […]

  • I am sooooo jealous! I’ve been dreaming of chickens all summer…I think I’ve almost got DH talked into building me a *small* coop in the spring. No doubt, my chickens will abandon ship if they saw your beautiful set up!

  • Kylee says:

    Oh great, Robin. I’ve wanted chickens for some time now, and hubby doesn’t. I’d just about given up on the idea and then I read this.

    I WANT CHICKENS!!!!!!!

  • rosemarie says:

    Lucky chickens! I wish my house was that cute!

  • Jay Jones says:

    I echo the comments above. It is very attractive. One side of me would like to duplicate it for our chickens. However, my conscience would not allow it. When building our coop I tried to use as much scrap lumber and surplus material as possible. I have become very sensitive to the impact of the resources we use and try to reduce in as many ways as possible. It is a hard battle to change behavior and one that I continue to fight in my own life.

    Very best wishes,

    Jay Jones [email protected]

  • Hi, Jay! You could actually build something like this with the surplus construction materials found at some of the resale stores we have here in Oklahoma. Builders often take leftovers that might have been thrown away after building a home or office bldg to a consignment store. While these materials are, more often than not, brand new, they have been saved from the landfills.

    Another option might be to offer to “clean up” construction sites in return for keeping any supplies that you’d like. We wouldn’t allow our builder to throw away scrap lumber and trim when we built…we’ve got tons of great FREE stuff from that process that would have found it’s way into the trash.

  • […] her, shall we say. They currently sleep together at night on the roost bar near the ceiling in the Palazzo di Pollo. He is quite the romancer, although Maude is playing […]

  • […] since our chickens arrived, we have been in the habit of letting them out of their Palazzo and fenced outdoor run to have a walkabout in the afternoons for a couple of […]

  • […] year, the Palazzo di Pollo and the auxiliary chicken coop, the Eglu, now reside in that area. And since I was dividing what […]