Boy, did I marry a good sport or what?
My husband, Kevin, has always been supportive (albeit a tad skeptical at times but always supportive) of all my frugal/homemaking/homesteading endeavors, but when I mentioned a couple years ago that I think it'd be so nice to have our own little flock of backyard chickens, he put on the brakes. For a period of his childhood, his family had several chickens. Turns out, he kind of told himself at the time that when he grew up, he would never get chickens. To him, they were messy and not worth the trouble. I can just see in my mind's eye my husband as a cute, spunky kid, cleaning up chicken poop and making a secret vow that things would be different when he was grown-up, feeling some sort of justice in that knowledge. I think it's kind of a cute thought. That thought also makes me feel a little guilty since I talked him into breaking that vow.
But don't worry -- we made a deal. If he built our chicken tractor (basically a mobile house and run), I would do all the chicken chores (which is cool with me -- that was my plan all along). Oh, and I have to play an entire video game by myself (my husband just happens to be a video game artist by day and a video game enthusiast 24/7). It's probably going to be Portal 2 or one of the Uncharted games.
Anyway, our little chicks have turned into awkward teenagers and it's about time for them to upgrade to their bigger home outside. The chicken tractor turned out marvelously, so I thought I'd share how it went.
We looked at a bunch of different ideas for a chicken coop online and decided that we wanted to go with a mobile coop and run instead of a permanent coop. We looked at various designs and plans, even some prefabricated coops and runs, but we just kept coming back to the chicken tractor (complete with detailed building plans) in Ashley English's Keeping Chickens.
So one weeknight Kevin and the boys headed to the Home Depot with the supply list, and the building began the following Saturday. The supply list is great because it tells you, down the last little washer and screw, exactly what you need and what it is used for in the project. We found everything at our local hardware stores (Kevin went to Home Depot one day, I went to Lowe's another to pick up a few more items).
I'm no builder. I mean, I feel proud when I put something from IKEA together. So, glancing at the plans didn't really mean much to me. However, as Kevin read and worked through the instructions, he kept commenting on how they were easy to follow. Our son, Max, was also inspired by the plans and made his own set to follow.
Here are a few snapshots of the building process, spread over a couple Saturdays...
This is the interior of the hen house, complete with a perch for roosting and a nesting box. Also, that's me making a cameo in the top-right corner, working on the mini-greenhouses I mentioned a couple posts ago (I SO hope they work...).
Almost finished -- just needs some paint and roofing.
Kevin decided on spray paint for this project -- and in my favorite color, no less! A couple days later, he did the roof with some leftover shingles we had (that we bought a few years ago after a wind storm ripped a few of ours off).
It was ready for the chickens!
We put the girls in their new place and almost immediately they started looking around and scratching in the grass.
And the pecking order squabbles began shortly thereafter. So silly.
I couldn't be more pleased with the way the chicken tractor turned out. The plans alone are worth buying the book for, especially since some plans for similar tractors cost more than the whole book! (That said, the book is totally worth getting whether you make the tractor or not -- it's such a wonderful guide.) I love the mobile housing for our little flock because the chickens will also fertilize the lawn. It's been a lot of fun watching them busily scratch and search through the grass already and I think they're going to be a great addition to our backyard! Now we just have to wait a few months to start collecting those eggs.
Looks like I've got some video gaming to do now.
- This post is linked up with Homestead Barn Hop. Check it out -- lots of great ideas!--