Building a Chicken Run

Dragging the chicken tractor around on wobbly wheels lost its appeal. The tractor was heavy and when the chickens scratch and dig, they undermine it so it sits in a hole making it nearly impossible to move without herculean effort. It was time to reconsider the chicken’s habitat.

Around two sides of the garage and about ten feet away is a chain link fence. It would only take a short piece of fence and a gate to create a chicken run. Oh yeah, and reams of netting over the top to keep the girls from flying out and undesirable critters from getting in.

The gate and short piece of fence were easily installed. The netting was a totally different story. At Lowe’s, the most affordable netting was for deer, so I purchased a large roll. After scratching my head for a while trying to come up with the best plan of action, I collected all the things I thought I would need for the job- ladder, drill, drill bits and driver, screws, staple gun, extra staples, strips of wood, wire and scissors. Yes- many of the men I know are jealous of my tool collection.

First I unrolled the netting along the ground around the run. I quickly learned that deer netting gets caught on the smallest twig, root, vine, splinters on the sides of the garage, ladder rungs, even the buttons on my shirt. It became the number one frustrating aspect of creating the chicken run.

I thought the best way to secure the netting to the garage would be to staple the netting to strips of wood, drill holes through the wood strips and screw them into the garage wall up under the eaves. Or so I thought.

The stapling went well, as did setting up the ladder. I pulled up the first piece of wood, catching the netting on a rough spot of my shoe. In shaking the netting off my shoe, it became hung up on the ladder and wouldn’t disconnect. Down the ladder I went to untangle the mess. I finally made it up the ladder and with the wood wrestled into place, I attempted to screw the wood into the garage wall.

After a few jaw clenching, shoulder wrenching attempts to make the screw obey my will to melt into the garage wall, I realized it was a futile effort and came back down the ladder to get the drill bit. Having only one drill made the job even more infuriating since I had already pre-drilled the holes in the wood strips and could only reach two of the holes at a time while up on the ladder to drill holes in the garage. I had to take the screw driver out of the drill, insert the bit, drill the two holes and re-insert the driver to put in the two screws. You can see where this is leading, right?

Eons later after much cussing, climbing up and down the ladder to drill, screw and untangle, I was ready to move to the chain link portion of the onerous task. This part, I thought, should be a cake walk. My dreams were dashed as the netting caught on little rough bits of metal on the chain link and the places along the top of the fence that are folded over and the solder has popped off that grab and keep the netting like gnarled fingers. I was soon red-faced with anger.

Finally the job was finished and the tools put away. The final touch was a chicken coop made from a used shipping crate. I opted to leave the inside of the crate with an open floor plan because the chickens tended to lay their eggs in one spot anyway. I cut a small hole in the front for the girls to enter and a wide, large hole in the top half of the back of the crate for easy egg retrieval and clean-out. To complete the coop, I added two old cabinet doors with hinges and screen door hooks on the front and back doors so the coop could be closed up in cold weather.

Finally Marsha and Shelly were moved into their new digs. I opened the door to the chicken tractor and herded them over to the new run. They seemed overjoyed to have room to spread their wings and fly. Seeing their joy made all that frustration worth while.

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