Coop Move

A friend of a friend is trying to sell their rowhouse (it’s lovely, but unfortunately a bit snug for their growing family), and sadly, only one of the viewers who has come to see their house so far had considered the palatial chicken coop and run in their postage-stamp backyard a desirable amenity. So, a bit sadly, they adopted out their four hens, and were left staring at an empty coop. A very large, very well built behemoth, partially wedged under their deck, with a hardware cloth bottom buried under four years of *ahem* well-amended compost. What to do? They could have taken it apart and left it in their alley to be parted out for scrap metal and wood (which probably would have happened quite quickly), or find someone willing to come help deconstruct it and reuse the pieces for their intended purpose, sheltering pampered poultry. We were those people, thanks to a lead from the friend who helped us build the chicken tractor that had previously housed our gals. It’s a great little coop (both of them are, actually, and the tractor will be especially useful to acclimate new birds when adding to our flock, although it may be destined as a bunny hutch someday) and we’re happy to have them! It was no little task.

We stopped by, with a growler of homebrew to assess the situation. I had only seen the coop briefly before in the dark, and had thought it might be simple enough to break down and reassemble… though it did seem a shame to undo all that work (this thing is solid) only to have to put it back together again on the other end… but the gate was small, and the coop was wide- there’s no way it was going to fit through intact, or even in several large pieces. After briefly considering the daunting possibility of lifting it over the fence, the men decide, with glinty gusto, that the best attack is to detach a section of fence behind the coop-run (which was a later addition to the main coop, and was built with the wood fence serving as it’s backside and rear frame braces. We could then cut apart the roof(through plywood and asphalt shingles) between the original section and the addition, and tilt one section at a time through the opening in the fence, and then put the fence back together. A good trick. The actual execution was more difficult than it sounded that evening, and required substantially more homebrew, gruntwork, helpful hands, and a bit of high-tension boom-hoisting than we had encompassed in our initial planning session, but we earned our sore muscles and cold beers that day.

The main coop is now in place, and the girls love their new digs. We still have to move the shipping-pallet woodshed (formerly to be a coop, now superseded by The Chicken Palace of Luxury and better suited to firewood drying than hen housing. It took quite a few friends and log rollers to get it where it is now, and will certainly require the same to move it across the yard close to the back steps (for easier wood toting, and because that’s one of the few open spaces in the yard). This will of course be further complicated by the fact that in my haste to fence in the girls from predators, I already dug a trench, pounded fenceposts, buried 24″ hardware cloth a foot deep in said trench with the remaining foot affixed to the fenceposts, and backfilled the trench with bricks and rocks at the base to deter digging, and for good measure, dirt, crocuses and daffodils. Once the woodshed is out of the way, we can reattach the run (after framing out the back-side that was formerly affixed to the fence as it will now be somewhat free-standing… still with its back to a fence, but not one that’s particularly structural). THEN I can finish the hardware cloth, chicken wire, and mesh enclosure, so that I can let the birds out into a bigger run during the day but keep them off of whatever is left of the henpecked “lawn” aka woodchip mudpit,while reseeding the backyard with clover, rye, and other tasty and soil-enriching groundcovers.  Once that’s taken root a bit, we’ll give them free reign again on the hopefully lush chicken-salad bar.

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