Tiny Dinosaurs (Six on Saturday #60–October 17, 2020)

Pollo and Kylling 2
Kylling and Pollo look for grubs in a rotten log.

For the past two years, Youngest Offspring has been arguing in favor of backyard chickens, and her long campaign has finally been successful. My garden project this summer was building a coop and run next to my greenhouse, and on September 24, three pullets from a local farm moved in.

1. The coop

Coop-front
The chicken “barn quilt” was painted by my wife. Access port for the nest box is visible at right.

Since we have never kept chickens before, it took us a long time to decide exactly what to do about a coop. We considered various prefabricated coops but eventually decided to build our own. I purchased plans for the Basic Coop from TheGardenCoop.com but modified them to make the coop slightly taller and 3′ x 4′ instead of 3′ x 3′. This made the materials somewhat more expensive, but should allow us to keep up to five birds.

Coop-back

2. The run

run

The run is about 10’ x 20’, half covered with transparent corrugated polycarbonate and half open to the elements. I built a rough perch from the trunk of a young black tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica) and threw in some rotten logs for scratching and grub hunting purposes.

3. Security

apron
anti-predator apron around the perimeter of the run.

We decided not to allow the chickens free range in the garden, because of the danger from predators. The birds are basically Youngest Offspring’s pets, so we want to protect them as well as we can. Raccoons are probably the biggest threat, but in our area other possible predators include foxes, coyotes, dogs, cats, skunks, opossums, hawks, and owls. There’s an outside chance of weasels or bobcats, or perhaps a mink following the creek up from the Eno River. Rat snakes probably aren’t a threat to adult chickens, so I’m not worried about excluding them—we’ll just remove any egg raiders we find.

At night, the chickens are confined to the coop, which will hopefully exclude nocturnal predators. For maximum ventilation without sacrificing security, the coop has a ceiling of heavy galvanized hardware cloth topped with corrugated polycarbonate. The large cleanout door and small door connecting to the coop are both secured with swivel hasps. I use carabiners to “lock” the hasps at night, because they’re easier to remove than padlocks but hopefully will be too difficult for dexterous little raccoon paws

The sides of the run are welded wire fence, and the part that doesn’t have a roof is covered with chicken wire to keep out hawks. Around the perimeter, we placed a horizontal apron of the same fencing material. When hidden beneath mulch it will hopefully slow down any dogs or other diurnal predators that try to dig under the fence.

So, fingers crossed. I hope we haven’t set up a buffet with free chicken dinners.

4-6. The girls

Hanchen
Hänchen

Pollo_and_Kylling
Pollo (left) and Kylling

Hänchen is supposed to be an Ameraucana, but the farm said it is possible she is an “Easter Egger” (Ameraucana hybrid). Pollo is a cuckoo Marans. Kylling is a Red Star. In November they will be joined by a barred Plymouth Rock and an Easter Egger. Youngest Offspring has reserved the names Frango and Kuritsa.

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six for this week and find links to the blogs of other participants.

7 thoughts on “Tiny Dinosaurs (Six on Saturday #60–October 17, 2020)

  1. When I lived in Georgia, back in the 1950s I had a number of bantams, and possums were the only problem. Looks like they will have to decide to hunt elsewhere if they visit your well-constructed coop. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hooray for hens! We would never be without. After close to 7 years in, our Chicken Mansion that Hubby built is holding up well. Congrats on a great structure and good protection for the girls. You will love the variety of egg colors from the breeds you’ve selected!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great construction and absolutely brilliant for the child in the family who will get great fun from it – as well as excellent eggs. We kept hens for years but stopped a few years back. I miss the quality of the eggs, especially the duck eggs, however it started something which has continued still. I used always throw a little hen food on the grass for the local birds and it attracted pheasants into the garden. I still put out food for them every day and it is wonderful to have a family of wild birds living with us. They are semi-tame – they don’t mind being near us but don’t come too close. Some would eat from the hand if I wished to do so but I’m not inclined to want to tame them.

    Liked by 1 person

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