Updated: Apr 16, 2019
Henry & the ladies have a new abode!
When I purchased Hearts Haven in 2016, I held romantic visions of free ranging chickens scratching and fertilising the earth, intermingling and socialising with Pudding Cat, the sheep and cows and spending their days wandering under the warm midday sun. Nearly 3 years later and reality bit me hard; chickens only want to scratch up your perfectly mulched gardens, they delight in feasting on your newly planted vegetable seedlings that you lovingly grew from seed, they like to play hide and seek with their eggs, choosing to nest in the longest vegetation they can find knowing that you will spend hours searching for them and usually to no avail and they poop primarily on your footpaths preferring to poop exactly where you walk!
I initially built them a gorgeous mobile home on a trailer, intending to move them around from paddock to paddock, but where ever I moved them to, they dutifully wandered all the way back to the house paddock to do the above mentioned antics and to lay their eggs in the neighbours paddocks!
So I fenced a paddock intending to keep them in...and they flew over!
So I clipped their wings...and they still flew over or found a gap!
So I tried a temporary mobile run...and they still escaped and it truly was ugly and gave me no joy...these chickens were stressing me and wasting my time (cleaning up poop, mulch, hunting eggs, moving housing etc)...i was getting angry! Yes, angry at chickens!
This was wrong! I needed to bring the happiness back into my life in regards to me and my chickens. I decided first and foremost that it needed to bring me joy, which ultimately led me to devising and drawing up plans of a permanent coop. Yes, I can hear you say "a permanent housing structure?" yes, it had to happen. I wanted to create a beautiful and pleasing to the eye permanent chicken run/coop/housing structure.
I am not a builder by trade, but I have watched tradesmen and have attempted to build things in the past, so after looking online and Pinterest and realising that I didn't have the budget to buy something pre-made I decided to make it myself and place the run in my house paddock towards the front of the property. It is north/east located and protected from the weather by large native trees and is in a bit of a non used area. Its far enough away but close enough to collect eggs and watch them if I am tending to the gardens.
I visualised a 10 metre x 4 metre enclosure with my mobile hen house either inside or outside. Just a basic rectangle which had chicken wire high enough to stop them flying over and maybe somehow making it look a little pretty. I was given a few rolls of chicken wire, I had an old screen door which I picked up from a tip shop, I had hammer, screws, spade, stapler, level, drill and everything that I thought I needed to build it other than the timber, so I headed off to Bunnings for my timber supplies and had them cut into lengths which would fit in my van.
Locate where you are going to place the structure. And dig a deep hole to place your first corner post. My posts were 2400mm long and I buried them around 500mm in the ground. I used a digging bar as I don't have a post drill, and I didn't cement them in either. I rammed the dirt back up against the post.
Locate where the other corner will go and maybe use a string line to get a straight line to follow.
Place the other posts where needed. I placed mine at 2 metre intervals
Once the basic space is made with the posts I placed horizonal timbers to each post to stabilise it and also to give the chicken wire something to attach to.
Locate where you are going to place a door. I used a screen door which I found at the local tip shop for $5. I knew I was holding on to it for a reason! I simply screwed it to the post and it seems to work ok. There is nothing fancy with what I do, just make it happen.
Next I measured from the horizontal mid railing upward to place another horizontal top railing for more stability and to secure the chicken wire. I did not want my chickens flying the coop! Because the ground has a slight slope I also used a spirit level and my good old "eyetrometre" (use your eye and if it looks ok its ok!)
Before you close it all up if you are putting a mobile home or existing hen house inside your run, put it inside now, otherwise it will be left outside!
Now this is where it was tricky for me as I am not a trailer backer-upper, so it took a lot of manoeuvring and back and forthing to get that fine looking trailer hen house into position, but I did it, yes, all by myself...maybe I can now call myself an "A OK trailer backer-upper". I also, housed all my chickens into the trailer and moved the trailer, transporting them in it and into their new position...I only had one escapee but that was because the door fell off it while I was moving it and she took off, believing she was safer on the ground that in the moving trailer with a door flying off, (wise chicken is that Nancy!).
Wire it up, Secure any gaps. I simply stapled the wire to the posts and rails and twisted the edges of the wire together using a nail, it worked for me.
Dig the wire into the ground to stop the chickens escaping by digging their way to China. I dug the wire into the ground on the outside and then placed rocks around the edges on the inside. Once it was all wired up and secured, I let the chooks out allowing them some chill out time to resettle their travel legs and get use to their new surroundings. During this time I was wheelbarrowing mulch to create a garden bed surrounding their coop. I will plant something in there in Autumn.
Garden edge done...tick
Door latch done...tick
Nancy caught and placed inside...tick
Take lots of Instagram pics...tick
Yes, I found my Joy with my Henry and Hen crew once again, everyone is happy x