17 June 2014

Chicken Fortress


After our sweet neighbor surprised the girls with three adorable chicks (I'd given approval and promptly forgot I'd said "yes"), I knew we weren't going to build a chicken coop.  We were going to build a chicken fortress.
Stoney coming to inspect our work.
Last year, an entire flock of chickens and two geese were devoured by a selfish, greedy fox within a matter of days.  Really though, I couldn't blame her.  I knew she had kits nearby and was probably just stocking up the pantry.  Still, I really wish she would have stuck with squirrels and rabbits.
Kate doing us the honor of predator testing the hardware cloth.
First things first: fencing.  We decided to move the coop into a spacious dog run since it already had some protection from a chain link fence.  I spent an hour or so every day cinching hardware cloth onto the chain link and tacking up 2x4s to support it.  Hardware cloth costs and arm and a leg but is one of the few products that actually deters predators (they can't reach their greedy hands through the holes, nor any sharp teeth).  Plus, there's a sturdy tree in the middle so with a fencing apron and thick rooms beneath the ground and rocks stacked along the edge, I think it will discourage any diggers.  That was just the beginning.
Getting started on the coop.
Jack helped construct a small but comfortable chicken coop for the hens and rooster (I'm hoping Claire's barred rock is the only boy, if at all...), complete with a nesting box, ramp and easy access doors.  As far as I can tell, they seem to be enjoying it (and I haven't even hung a perch yet!).
Evie showing her girl, Little Rose or Rosie around.
Jack and I worked for several hours the night before we went camping to finish up the final structural details of the coop and run while the girls delightedly played with the happy chickens.  At first I thought it'd be too small for a flock but after seeing their three little bodies inside, there's probably room for fifty fat hens.
Fencing on the sides and top too.  Nobody's getting in or out.  Unless we accidentally forget to shut the door.
The entire run is encased in hardware cloth and fencing and cost a lot more than any rational person probably would on a run and coop for three chickens but after watching the girls play with their poultry, I'm reminded why it was worth the effort.
Bring it, Mrs. Fox.  I'll be waiting (and hoping I don't have to eat my words later).


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