Twinsane’s Weblog

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Garden clearing for the chickens.

Posted by --- on Tuesday 11 November, 2008

Today I’ve spent most of the day clearing the garden and planning how to adapt the playhouse into a chicken coop. The area the chickens will be in is about 6m x 2m (17′ x 6′); 2m x 1.2m (6’x4′) of this will be the coop. It has taken a while to come up with a plan for the coop. I want to be able to access all areas easily for cleaning but I want to make it more difficult for the rats to have access too. The shed we used before was lifted off the ground by about 15cm. The rats chewed through the floor and when we dismantled the rotten shed we found extensive tunneling covering about 7 meters long, this doesn’t include where they go off under the slabs.

My idea for inside the new coop is something along the lines of this:

coop_floor1 My apologies. The picture is very small. Basically the house already has a door which will be at the back. The right side will be against the neighbours fence, the left side, which has a window, against the existing path facing north-east. I will make a communal nestbox as seen in this week’s country smallholding magazine on the back below and existing window. This will have one opening for the birds to access from inside. There will be a perch running across the 2m front with plastic trays for catching droppings. I want to make a side sliding opening for the birds on the front which is also another idea taken from the magazine.

The whole house will be on legs about 50cm off the ground. I will mesh the sides and the back with chicken wire so that the birds will have access to underneath the coop for dustbaths etc. My problem is how to make it easy to clean out. As it the door is only around 1m high, it will be difficult to go into the coop. I want to somehow make a panel open but with appropriate perch space and nest box, that only leaves one feasable side which is the front. I think I will need to cut out a large panel so that I can make the front drop down for easy cleaning. I am open for suggestions as, to be honest, I am struggling a bit here.

Outside, we will be cutting down the silverbirch which is right in the middle of the proposed run. It’s with a little emotion as this tree is the same age as the twins. There is another in the front garden. Leaving the one in the run creates lots of problems related to roofing the run etc so the best solution is to take it out. We will cut it to around 1.2m and attach another peice of wood to form a T shape. This will then have food for the chickens suspended from it.

Today, all I’ve managed to do is:

  • clear the existing site
  • FIll in all the rat excavations
  • level where the coop will go
  • lift the existing path that will overlap the chicken area (easier said than done!)
  • place slabs where the legs will sit
  • follow DFS around clearing stuff he puts in piles (nope, he hasn’t been to work today or yesterday)
  • Make a garden fire and begin burning the old shed (so I stink of fire)
  • make the legs for the base
  • attach the legs and supportwork
  • woodtreat the legs
  • attach some chicken wire to back

It doesn’t seem much when you write a list but it’s taken all of my day and I’m tired now. I would like to be able to regrass the area before I put birds on it. I’ve read somewhere that a mix of ryegrass and clover is good but can’t find it in small amounts. Also, as with getting eggs or chicks, I think it’s the wrong time of year.  I have emailed several people about welsummer eggs but only one person has answered favourably. In fact I emailed a few on ebay that have either recently sold eggs or are selling them now. I want to be able to collect them if I can to reduce any breakages. One person did not seem impressed and replied in capitals that it was postage only. It makes you then wonder why they don’t want anyone to see where the eggs originate, or is that me and my suspicious mind? Anyway, I’ve now got a supplier whom I am eager to use mainly because of the nice email and am on the hunt for grass seed.

Last night I cleared the greenhouse which had turned into a storage area again. I want to use the space underneath my bench as a brooding area/growing area for chicks to grow before going outside.  I managed to find the old brood lamp which needs a bulb and ordered one of these incubators on sunday. I thought the seller may have emailed to say thanks for the order with info about dispatching but as with most people on there now, I suppose I’ll hear nothing and be watching for a parcel for a week.

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