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New Digs for the Girls

The New Digs


Antony Begins Construction

Our chickens have taken a bit too much liberty in the term “free range” lately. All summer, I have battled with them. They have dug numerous holes in the yard, in the most in convenient places, for taking their daily dust baths. I never did get to harvest any of the swiss chard from the garden, but the chickens certainly enjoyed eating it all. My efforts to fence off areas of the garden and greenhouse were unsuccessful, as the chickens found their way over, around, or through whatever I put in place. When the hens began eating my tomatoes off the vine, as they ripen in the greenhouse, I knew it was time to find a permanent solution.

Progress


The Coop Takes Shape

While our wwoofers were here, they offered to build a portable chicken house, which we could put in the field away from the garden. The coop would serve the purpose of getting the hens to roam the fields, instead of my garden, and to fertilize the pastures. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but never had the time to begin the project. With willing workers on board, we began designing our new coop. 

Feeding Station
Nesting Boxes

We decided upon a low profile with nesting boxes at one end, feeding station at the other, and roosting bars in between.  

Test Drive

Wire mesh spans the length of the house, allowing chicken manure to fall to the ground 
underneath. Skids on the bottom make it easy to pull with our small lawn tractor. We wanted maximum light inside the structure, so we used clear roofing as the siding on one length of the coop. We also used it as the roofing over the nesting boxes. We designed the boxes so that you can lift their roof from the outside and reach in to collect the eggs. Antony worked hard the better part of his last week here, almost totally finishing the project. My husband finished it up, and gave it a test drive before adding the roof. 

Free Range-on Pasture

We now have the portable chicken coop in a pasture with electric poultry netting around it, in hopes to encourage the girls to stay close to home. A few stubborn hens, insist that this is not their new home, and every morning, I have to carry three hens back to the field. Overall, it seems to be a happy solution for all. I think the hens rather like their new digs.

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