Dad and I were talking about the chicken coop that we really needed to build yesterday while we were out running around. Suddenly it dawned on me. We had all the materials we needed to build the coop and the run, and it wouldn’t take much work, either. I had run across a portable structure while researching something else that would work well for what we are doing. And it wouldn’t take the work a full-scaled wood chicken coop would, which neither Dad nor I wanted to get into right now. We started work on this coop when we got home at 5pm. We were done by 8pm. That was pretty fast!
We knew where we wanted to put the run at least for the time being, the 12 foot zone next to the greenhouse that is overgrown at the moment with raspberries (wild ones, very unproductive) and bindweed. We also knew that as many chickens as we have, we will want to move them periodically or they will turn their runs into a desert. It’s a compromise between ease of building, ease of moving, and some protection from predators.
We grabbed the abandoned pig tractor, which was made up of four 3 foot by 16 foot pig panels, and took the panels up to the greenhouse. The pigs are in temporary quarters awaiting butchering next week. We bowed each panel by bracing the ends against hardwood stakes driven at least a foot into the ground. Overlapping the edges by a couple of inches and wiring the panels in place gained us an 11 foot by 6 foot coop.
Once the panels were in place we grabbed a big piece of white plastic sheeting Dad had bought for some purpose. It was about 10 foot by 20 feet, and didn’t quite cover the whole length of the coop. In time we will trim the excess off the one side and use it to cover the end. We will be adding wooden end walls to the coop before winter.
The chickens had been poorly contained by a run of 2 foot high fencing, so we took part of that down and used it to cover the ends of the coop. On the far end, where we built the run today, we put a length of it across the bottom, and then another length above that, almost completely covering the end. Across the front we opted for one length to allow us easy access for putting chickens, feed, and water into the coop. Finally, we closed any gaps with pieces of bird netting. That stuff is all but invisible at dusk, I’ll have you know!
Once we had it as tight as we could make it, since it was now all but dark, we went and started grabbing chickens. Half of them were roosting in the large shrub in their run, and they kept hopping from branch to branch above our heads. We wound up getting most of them, taking an ice-cream break, and coming back for the rest. But, by bedtime, all the birds were secure. Did I mention it was 88 yesterday, and very humid? We were as tired as the chickens!