Fixing Fowl Frustrations, the Chicken Run Compromise
Free range chickens have a lot of benefits for a homestead; bug control, healthy chickens, reduced feed costs, etc. However, there are some draw backs; chicken poop everywhere, chickens killing anything you plant they can get at, and chickens occasionally chasing you. At this point the chickens have even stripped parts of our lawn. This year we are planning on doing lots of planting around our house. In order to protect all the new plants we had to compromise a bit with the chickens, and build a chicken run.
A Special Day
First, though, I would like to celebrate my wonderful wife. It was Sarah’s birthday last week and so we took some time to celebrate. How do a couple of homesteaders celebrate a birthday? Why by going on a date to buy seeds of course. The seed store at Baker’s Creek is large and the selection is amazing! We had a great time hanging out together and making some plans for the garden this year.
While Sarah’s year has also not gone according to plan. She amazes me by never letting herself be defeated for long. Her positivity inspires everyone around her as she lights up our lives. She never gives up on her dreams and is always looking for new ways to make them happen. She is an amazing mother to our children, very carrying when it comes to the animals on our homestead, and obsessed with trying to keep us all healthy. Plus she is fun to be around and a great dancer.
She keeps me on my toes and I love every minute of our lives together.
Chicken Coop Translocation
The first thing that had to be addressed before we built our chicken run was the location of the run and the coop. Originally we had planned on making a run around the coop where it was. However, after some discussion, we decided that the run, and therefore the coop, needed to be next to the garden. With this arrangement garden scraps can be thrown directly to the chickens for food additionally compost and manure can easily be moved to the garden.
The only problem, the coop needed to be moved about 100 feet, uphill. The coop is a 6×12 structure and weighs a lot. To pull this off we needed some help.
Thankfully we have some amazing neighbors. One of them, Jim, has a tractor and is always super helpful. We called him up and asked if he could help us. He said sure but that it would need to wait till his guests left toward the end of the week. Well, two days later, Jim shows up with a few bored house guests. Since they were all sitting at home bored they decided to just come move the coop while the extra manpower was available.
So with Jim and associates, we popped the coop onto some logs I had cut to be fence posts, hooked the tractor up using tow straps, and slowly rolled the coop uphill. There was a scary moment or two where the coop almost tipped on the hill. But, the coop now rests at its new garden adjacent home. Sadly, I was not able to take any photos or videos of this happening (sorry guys!), it was quite the sight.
Constructing the Chicken Run
Now, all we had to do was build the run. Which should have been a weekend project. Sadly, when talking about a permanent fence, things can get complex. We have always planned on putting a small pond into the garden, to help with irrigation in the summer. Since the chicken run shares the garden fence on one side, it makes sense that the pond is dug before we build the chicken run. So, the chicken run had to wait a week or two while we figured out equipment rentals and other things.
With the ponds dug we were ready to get started! Except then we got sick, not terribly sick but enough that we didn’t want to risk working in the cold and wet and getting worse. That set us back another week. Then it was Christmas, which we had promised to spend with Sarah’s Mom out of town, and there went another week. So a month after moving the coop, the chicken run finally went up.
The run was simple enough to build. Dig a hole, put a post in, move down the line and repeat. Nothing all the special but a little time-consuming. For the posts, we mainly used trees we harvested off our own land, pines along the sides, and cedar, which is rot-resistant and will last longer, for the corners. The exception was the fence line we share with a cow field, for that section we went with treated 4×4 posts so that we won’t have to worry about the fence keeping the cows out for quite a while. The pine posts will probably start to rot in the next 5ish years and need to be replaced, but since they are free wood that is something I am willing to do.
The finishing touch to the chicken run was the gate. Sarah dislikes most of the gates on the homestead. So for the chicken coop, it was time for something a little better. I took the fencing and wedged it between some 2×2’s to frame it in. then I build a cross brace and reinforced the top and bottom for better strength. Finally, I set it in place between two more 4×4 posts. In the end, I think it turned out nicely.