Friday, 18 January 2013

How to build a chicken run in 157 easy steps

Look at the cunning in those eyes.
This week’s entry in the How to Live Sustainably series: How to build a chicken run in 157 easy steps. Note that everyone is different, and not every step might apply to your situation.

1.) Decide you want to keep chickens. Perhaps you want animals to provide you with companionship and entertainment until you get hungry. Perhaps you want to play tricks on animals that lack the wherewithal to be indignant, allowing you a certain freedom from guilt. Perhaps you want free protein for when the Eurozone collapses, oil prices skyrocket again, another Icelandic volcano erupts or the Zombie Apocalypse takes place.

2.) Decide what kind of chicken you want to have; there are docile and aggressive breeds, white and brown egg layers, and breeds that look like they stuck their beak in an electrical socket. Many of the more bizarre-looking breeds are purely for show, bred by people who enjoy that sort of thing. Others were bred for fighting, by people who apparently love the mess of chicken slaughter without having to bother with the inconvenience of eating fried chicken afterwards.

3.) Decide what kind of chicken run you need. Some people build a mobile run, basically a cage whose one end rests on the ground and whose other end rests on wheels, and which can be picked up and dragged. With a mobile run, you don’t need much space, for the chickens strip the small area and poo all over it in short order, but the next day you can roll their cage to a different patch of ground as the first patch recovers. The disadvantage, though, is that you need to move the run, and as it’s dark when I leave for work in the morning and dark when I get home, there’s no time to do so; I would kill myself wandering across the land in darkness even looking for a chicken run that didn’t keep moving around.

4.) Dig your trench. As we plan to have as many as six chickens, we want to have at least 50 square meters, so I had to dig a perimeter of 30 meters (5 x 10 x 2) half a metre deep to keep out foxes. Try to remember that there is now a giant trench on your property, and try to make sure no one sees you when you tumble to the ground. Remember: how you got all muddy is a long story, and no one can prove anything.

5.) Take scrap wood and begin hammering it together. Take careful measurements of all your wood, calculate the length and depth of each piece, and plan your coop accordingly, so that no piece of wood is wasted.

6.) Realise that much of the wood has rotted. Start over, but mixing scrap wood and lumber purchased from the hardware store, costing more than a year’s worth of eggs.

7.) Accidentally step on a nail and hop to the car on one foot to drive to the emergency room, assuring your daughter that you are fine and no one can prove anything.

8.) Invite someone who knows some carpentry to inspect your progress so far, and collect your dignity as they point and laugh at you.

9.) Go back to step 5 and start over.

10.) Bring your electric saw, electric drill and other power tools outside to piece the wood together into a workable coop, with hen boxes and door.

11.) Rush the tools inside as it starts to rain, frantically wiping them off so no water gets into the electronics.

12.) Wait until it stops raining. Bring tools outside again.

13.) Feel the first drops of Irish weather again; frantically gather up the power tools and run inside.

14. – 155.) Repeat steps 10 – 14, putting the coop together a few pieces of wood at a time over a period of several months.

156.) When coop is done, ask a very nice friend to help you pull a fence of chicken wire around the run, and fill in the gap on either side of the fence with stones, thus discouraging foxes and getting rid of the small boulders that are this country's most prolific garden crop.

157.) Write a blog post asking if anyone in County Kildare, Ireland has chickens they’d like to sell.


Ronald Langereis said...

Ha, Brian, you're becoming an expert on thinking up projects to keep a man busy and staying sane, never mind the odds. Without that big dose of humour of yours you would have floundered already, long ago.
Wishing you and yours all the best for the year and, if possible under Irish circumstances, a spat of sunshine, now and then.

TheHotFlashHomestead said...

I'm surprised a fox can dig half a meter down in the kind of soil you describe -- that is truly amazing! But knowing the tenacity of foxes I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything they are able to accomplish, when they have a mind to.

Anonymous said...

Chickens tried to kill me when I was four. Now, I know why I've stayed away from them for the past 64+ years.


Brian Kaller said...

Ronald, thank you! Your encouragement also helps.

HotFlash, I haven't seen them dig that far, but that's what people recommend.

Moose, even for a four-year-old those were some agressive birds.

sv koho said...

Yo Brian. sorry for the hiatus. Glad to see chickens are in your future.It's a battle but well worth it. We battle not only foxes but coyotes, raptors, dogs and even bears here in WY. I have a sturdy enclosure here which the neighbors call Guantanamo, 1.5" pipe and 1/4" mesh and I lock them up at night coupled with motion lights and a loaded rifle by my bed! I have animal pelts on the wall and after the first few are plugged, the foxes and coyotes get real wary. You can use electric fences which is what a lot of folks use here. Outfitters use them to keep grizzlies away from the horses and their hunting camps as well. Portable with solar power. Our chickens are free range in the summer but only when I am outside with a firearm handy. Once you kill a few, the predators look for easier pickings.