As you may remember, I sold 10 of my 14 chickens this past week, leaving me with my four favorites. I must say, I like the move down to 4 chickens. It's much more of a fun hobby, rather than a utilitarian chicken operation.
However, the big coop that the 4 chickens were in moves out on Saturday (sold on craigslist), so I needed to find a temporary home for the 4 chickens. This will give me time to gather my resources at home, and build a nice coop, without feeling like I'm rushed. Plus, not being rushed will mean I won't spend as much money.
This is the eventual coop I want to make. Something totally movable, by 2-4 people, and not anchoring us to this place. I might make it more rectangular. We'll see.
This is a possible design too, but I do like the first one.
While both those designs are nice, I needed something in the interim. Preferring not to spend money on them, I examined my resources, while also considering the fact that it is winter and the hens need to stay secure, warm, and dry.
So, I took my cold frame...
And two of my potato beds (which were possibly getting moved this year anyway due to being too in the shade and producing crazily tall potato plants)...
And voila. A chicken coop. See, the cold frame was not tall enough inside on its own. So, I put it on TOP of the garden beds, which had been mostly dug out and emptied of dirt. I put boards on one side and attached chicken wire on the other. The boards are securely in, but I can remove them to access the water bucket. I covered the ground thickly with coffee chaff. The door "roof" can open up in warmer days, or days where it is not going to rain. But, on rainy days, I made it so it closes all but about 3-4 inches. That gives the hens enough ventilation, but keeps them toasty warm and dry.
As for the girls? They LOVE IT. The have been incredibly active and happy. In the old coop, they stayed dry, my not dry enough. My poor salmons would walk around with damp neck feathers looking like dreadlocks. I will likely need to replace the chaff more frequently, since they do dig through it to the dirt below, but that's fine. I don't mind doing that.
Here they are, dry and happily pecking away at breakfast.
So. It may not be the prettiest thing ever, but it perfectly does the trick. And my feathered friends are super happy. A better one will be built, but now I can take my time. I may even wait until spring and warmer weather! There is no rush with this set-up, and the hens get a lot more light than they used to (since their old coop/pen was covered with a tarp, keeping it pretty shaded). Happier girls.
And, the cost to me was $0. You can't beat that.