So, a couple of weeks back, we decided the birds had to go outside. They were too big for the box we were using for a brooder, and they'd gotten a bit crazy and begun attacking me when I went to change their food and water. My Aussie boy startled them once while I was trying to avoid beaks to grab the water bowl, and mass panic ensued. One smart girl managed to, well, fly the coop, so to speak. What fun trying to catch her before she either made it out the door, or became dog chow. Not. Thought I was going to have a heart attack.
But the coop wasn't anywhere near ready. What to do? What to do?
Enter a plastic dog crate.Ta da! We'd been using it for my granddog, but needs must when the Devil drives. Second of Three and I went out and took an extra fence section to close off what was going to become the chickens' run. A few tweaks and we had it secure enough to keep the birds in, and predators out. Then we took the crate apart (it won't go through the door) and set it up inside the run. A couple of handfuls of pine shavings, and the fun part started: getting six flighty and rather pissed off teen-aged hens outside. One at a time.
But, hey, we managed. The girls settled down once we had a firm hold on them, and in three trips the two of us got six chickens out and settled into their new, temporary home. We figured out the other day that they've been in at least eight places since they were born.
Here's Second of Three checking the girls out. They spent several hours inside, probably afraid we'd catch them and move them again. Once I put out the food and water, though, they started to get out and explore a bit. They were particularly excited to start eating clover growing inside and outside the run (which used to be the dog's). We put Sk8monkey's old car hood up to block some of the sun.
The chicken right at the front is lighter red than the other two, and seems to be a little older than the others. She's pretty much the leader. I call her Miss Bossy Britches, but she's actually Georgia. (I just noticed the dates on the pictures, which are off by a month. Need to reset the camera!)
Three of the girls checking out the new location for their food and water. The two red ones are Lucy and Ethel, and the white one is either Gretchen, Pauline or Myrtle. I can't tell the three white ones apart. I might have to make them name tags. The funny thing is, I can't tell Lucy and Ethel apart, either. Maybe there will be more differences when they get older.
This thing with the dog crate went on for about two weeks, waiting on my brother to get the coop ready. Once he'd decided on how he was going to build it, and we got anything he didn't have, it went pretty quick. My brother (Bro1) is quite a builder, and he took on the challenge of researching coop styles and requirements with a vengeance. We built big so I can add six more chicks next year.
We had to move the framed coop on my other brother's trailer, it was too heavy to carry up the hill from my parents' house. This is the back of the coop. On the right is where the nesting boxes will go. The open space in the roof has been filled in with translucent plastic panels (my girls have a skylight, yo). I bought a piece of vinyl flooring to line the floor, which will make cleanup a lot easier. The area below the coop is for the girls to get out of the sun; their food and water will be under there, and there's room for them to have a dust bath spot.
This is the front. On the bottom left will be a second cleanout door. The primed area on the right is the door for the chickens to get in and out. The large framed area on the side is the main cleanout door. It's made from a window I found in a dumpster in Virginia a few years ago.
Finally! Framing has begun. Bro1 and Second of Three worked really hard on getting the coop put together in good time, and making sure it's as predator-proof as we can get it. We do have snakes, raccoons, possums, foxes, hawks and owls to worry about, not to mention neighborhood dogs and cats.
You can see how bricks were laid around as a foundation. There's also chicken wire wrapped around the bricks, which extends out about a foot. The roof has been started, with the skylight area primed. All that needs to be built now is a small area to hold the watering system, and the automatic feeder. My work will be cut to almost nil by these two handy gadgets.
At the left front, you can see Number One. He wandered out to supervise the work. Past the coop is the old dog lot, with Second of Three doing something, probably checking food and water. One good thing about having the birds outside is that I don't have to toss out near as much dirty food and water now.
All in all, I'm really pleased with the coop and the run. I didn't have much money to spend, so it's built out of scraps and a little bit of bought stuff. My sisters (all three of them, oddly) contributed bricks to line the coop foundation and the bottom of the run. Sis3 and her boyfriend had the chicken wire we used in several places, including the top of the run. No hawks are getting to my girls!
Goodness, this is getting into novella territory, time to sign off for now.