Chicken Re-coop

This week I will finish the chicken coop rebuild. I swear.

I am fully aware that I’ve been saying this since May. But I’m going to let you in on a secret you already know: life happens. Work, second job, the garden, my dogs, writing and – yes – an important bit of romance have all required my time and energy.

And the chickens have been doing just fine in their hutches in the workshop.

Still, the coop needs to get done. The chickens are getting big. They need to get outside and do free-ranging chicken type things. Also: I want my workshop back.

So between now and the completion of the rebuild, I’ve set up a transition coop that’s a win-win for all of us.

And I wish I’d thought of this set-up a way long time ago.

In my workshop, there is an old dog door that leads to a fenced-in backyard. My dogs have never used this door and spend almost no time in the backyard. So earlier this week, I used a chunk of my precious time and energy to build a simple box coop that is connected to the dog door, which lets the chickens go outdoors at their leisure. And completely opens up the space in my workshop by moving the poultry operation up again a single wall.

The box coop is built from whatever I had laying around: reclaimed 2x3s, sections of chicken wire, and large odd scraps of plywood. I cut everything to size with the circular saw and lap-jointed the 2×3 framing with dado blades on the table saw. The cordless drill, some fistfuls of screws and a staple gun brought it all together. I made it up as I went along.

The features of the transition coop are as follows:
* Hinged panels on the top for easy access when feeding, watering and cleaning.
* Large panels of chicken wire for ventilation.
* A raised platform at one end for food and water. Which the chickens promptly turned into a roost, knocking the food to the floor.
* A screened panel that can be slid and locked into place between the dog door and entrance to the coop. Allows the dog door to be open for air but keeps the chickens safe when confined to the coop.

What amazes me is how quickly the birds took to the new set-up. By the end of their first full day the chickens were going in and out, fully content in their newly-introduced freedom, as if this is the way it had always been. Chickens may be cautious and nervous animals, but their curiosity stands out as a more powerful force time and again. Once chickens figure out a new situation, it’s like nothing previous ever happened.

This new set-up is working so well, I’m tempted to skip building the new coop all together and keep the birds in my backyard.

Imagine: collecting eggs during the dead of Winter would simply involve walking from my kitchen into the workshop. No boots, no coat, no bundling up.

Did I mention I wish I’d thought of this set-up a way long time ago?

But back to the point…

This week I will finish the chicken coop rebuild. As originally discussed. I swear.

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