With the poly tunnel complete (though we are not claiming a win until we have our first storm), we turned our attention to chicken housing.
The previous owners kept their chickens in part of one of the barns - whilst it is well appointed and roomy, there is no enclosure for the chooks to roam outside. We didn't really want them scratching up the garden or (heaven forbid) the veg patch (have enough trouble with Dexter) so we decided to create a new chicken home. We have a small orchard which we figured would provide shelter from the elements and plenty of grass and scrub for our ladies to scratch about in. The unused chicken house will serve as an isolation pen for incoming livestock.
So we needed a chicken house and fencing. After the the poly tunnel, how hard could that be?
Step 1: Assemble Chicken House
We cheated and, because I fell in love with the design, probably spent too much. The house is big enough for 12 (though we'll start off with less) and is, in my defence, very solid. Ably assisted by our resident Building Control Inspector (Dexter), Dave had the house constructed in no time... yep.. this is definitely easier than the poly tunnel.
Step 2: Put in Fence Posts
With prior training from our friend Neil, posts with pointy ends and a mahoosive 'stomper', we just needed to measure the area out and knock 'em in. Most went in pretty straight...this is going suspiciously well..
Step 3: Make a gate and hang it
Dave is now an experienced gate maker (we class 'experience' as having done it once), he built a similar frame as the one for the poly tunnel, affixed chicken wire instead of poly, chiselled out placements for the hinges on the rounded posts and voilà - perfick!
Step 4: Dig out the turf round the perimeter
No point just building a high fence, Mr. Fox can dig. To combat any tunnelling efforts (either in by the fox or out by the chickens) we dug and rolled back the turf so that we could bury the bottom part of the fence. There's no skill involved for this - just hard work.. particularly when it started raining (hard).
Step ....apologies.. slight interruption...
We went to meet Fred (named in honour of my much missed father-in-law). Fred is a German Shepherd and will be joining Team Church at the end of May. Everyone say 'awww cute'.. OK, enough, back to it.
Step 5: Affix the chicken wire
Now excuse my French but this was an absolute ball ache - whilst the poles were pretty much straight, the land does slope so trying to keep the mesh taught and hammer in tiny U nails rather than one's fingers (whilst preventing the mesh from sagging) challenged our humour somewhat. We also had to take the gate off again in order to wrap the mesh round the poles. It was all starting to look a bit crap until we rolled the turf back over the mesh 'skirt' and by magic (most of) the bagginess dissipated.
We are fence building geniuses!
Step.. Do Not Pass Go, return to Step 3
Epic fail - in the process of keeping the mesh a tight as possible we had some pole movement:
Step 6: Admire handy work
Gate fixings duly realigned (bodged) and we are Chicken ready!
Tomorrow our Building Control Inspector is off to visit a working sheepdog trainer to be assessed for his aptitude for the work ..yes.. aptitude rather than attitude - Dex has an abundance of that. We aren't planning on keeping sheep but we do want Dex to behave himself around our animals and not to pose a threat to neighbouring livestock. As Dex comes from agility/show stock rather than working he may not be suited to the work - the instinct is certainly strong though.
I shall take this opportunity to mow the grass and enjoy the rare pleasure of not being rounded up in the process.