I have built an extension on our chicken coop and I’m pretty stoked with how well it came out.
When we first moved here the people kept a lot of budgies and other pretty birds in an aviary in the garden. When we got here the birds were gone but the cage was still there. So we decided it would be an awesome place for chickens, but we only wanted four chickens and the aviary was rather large. So using our very limited skills and resources we reduced it by a third and cobbled together a new side to the aviary to contain our four new chickens. Well – it did keep them in for a good six years.
In those six years our flock has expanded to fifteen birds as one of the original four wasn’t a chicken – well in the egg laying sense of the word. But Chicken (what happens when you ask a two year old to name an animal) is a lovely natured rooster and looks after all his girls. Although from time to time we have had to find new homes for several young lads.
As time went by and our chicken population grew, the overcrowding issue (although think celebrities in a mansion overcrowding, not kiwis in a London flat overcrowding) made itself apparent with a couple of pecking order issues which resulted in a chicken currently residing in my bathroom until the heat in the coop dies down!
Well I couldn’t keep Peaches in the bathroom forever no matter how sweet natured she is. I needed to build a chicken coop extension. So I got out there with our more extensive tool collection and much improved building ability and took on the task.
The space next to the coop was the wood shed where we stored wood and bits and bobs that may come in useful later on. There were loads of planks of different sizes and shapes and most had nails sticking out of them. The first task was to haul all that lot out so I could steal half of the space and also to see if there was any wood I could use. There were loads of useful bits.
So once I cleared and cleaned the space, I took down the wall that we made all those years ago – which wasn’t at all difficult and I’m surprised it was still standing at all. The moment I turned my back the chickens all escaped out the gaping great hole in the side of their home!
Using the wood from the old wall and some new old pieces from the pile I created a new wall frame. It came together really well. There were all these old fence pieces that were all the same length and just happened to be exactly the right height, which was amazing. I wanted to create a sort of two thirds wall, one third mesh extension so they could have somewhere to shelter from the rare east winds that, when they come can be a bit harsh.
Once the frame was built I took Hubby the Un-Gardener with me to the hardware store to do my heavy lifting and I bought a couple of sheets of plywood. The cool thing was that those fence pieces were exactly the same height as the plywood so the frame was a perfect fit. What you may or may not have realised by now is I’m not all that good at planning and measuring. I sort of cobble things together, making it up as I go. Which is why I am so surprised at how well this was all coming together.
With the new area all enclosed – except for the mesh – we still have to do that. I then moved on to fixing all the holes the rodents had created in an attempt to steal the chicken food. One of the holes was on the door step plate so I put down some wire mesh and nailed plywood over the top and I was quite proud of it until I realised I could no longer shut the door. So I took the door off its hinges and relocated it further along. Now it works perfectly and they have even more room.
Then came the fun part. I got to make some cool stuff I’d seen on Pinterest. I’d seen some nesting boxes made out of buckets with the lids on, but cut out, held in a wooden frame. So I thought I’d give it a whirl. I poked through the pile of wood to find suitable bits, and not being one to following instructions I spent some time figuring it out and only had to pull it apart once to redo a bit that wasn’t right. And before you know it I had something that resembled the picture! I only made a three bucket nesting system, as I only had three buckets, but now that I know what I am doing I intend to build more.
I was on a roll. There was a length of downpipe in the wood pile so while we were at the hardware store I picked up an elbow bend that wasn’t quite 90 degrees. I couldn’t seem to find any end caps but coffee jar lids did the job perfectly. I cut one length of downpipe about half a metre and another length based on the height that a child can reach. On the short one I cut the top middle section out and then I stuck it all together. I had to get Hubby the Un-Gardener to help me screw it to the wall as it was a two person job. Once it was finished we filled it with chicken food and let the gravity fill the exposed chamber at the bottom, so the chickens now have an amazing self-service café where they can eat whenever they want. Hubby the Un-Gardener hopes that chickens aren’t like goldfish and keep eating even when they are full!
I still have to put up the roost poles, so I need to nip back to the hardware store as none of our off cuts are long enough.
Come again soon – I’ll show you the chickens on the roosts.
Sarah the Gardener : o )
I would also like to say out loud and in public: Happy Birthday Hubby the Un-Gardener : o )