When I first got my allotment,in fact, one of the deciding factors in signing up to begin with, was chickens. I could finally keep chickens! We’d had hens when I was a kid and I had always yearned after keeping them again, the idea of chicken cuddles and fresh eggs was a great motivator. And so I set to: Building a chicken coop from scratch, making sure that it was as secure as I could make it and making it all from reclaimed (ie. free!) materials.
I started with an old rabbit hutch I already had, which was only being used as a potting bench, and added a base section from a crate. I painted and prepped and finally it was suitable for some bantam hens. But they still needed a run.
So I gathered all of my materials and slowly, over several months cobbled together a run out of old fence panels, bits of pallet, mesh panels from someone else’s old chicken run and a whole lot of making it up as I went along!
Eventually it was done! The roof was on, the wire was dug into the ground to a foot deep, I had feeders and drinkers and locks and I was ready! I had researched breeds and breeders in my area and come up with someone I was happy to buy from and all that was really left was to go and choose my girls.
So, Peggy, Pepper, Natasha and Richard* were installed in their coop… And I hated it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful coop,with everything their chicken hearts could desire but I was stressing out all the time. Were they ok? Was it secure? Was Peggy (who was absolutely miniscule) stuck somewhere? I couldn’t spend nearly enough time with them even though the allotment is so close to home and I was a nervous wreck. So I moved them home to my lawn.
(* Richard is also a girl, thus named because my uncle offered to buy me one of my hens as an early Christmas present if I named it after him. She’s affectionately known as Riri now.)
A modified plastic storage box and an old rabbit run found in a skip were sufficient to house them temporarily while I worked on converting a section of my (really rather small) back garden and existing shed into a chicken palace! I had sketches and everything! (Mostly to try and convince my mother that it was a great plan and I hadn’t lost it again!)
The plan now was to house the quail (who were already living at the house) together with the chickens in the shed with a run built around it. This would involve some major work in that the shed was in the wrong place and would need moving. I have good friends is all I can say on that one!
So from shed, potting area and raised bed it transformed magically into this (with a couple of new fence panels and a new gate along the way!):
I love being able to sit in the run with them. They’re slowly getting used to me and I’m trying to handle them frequently but in small doses. Whenever I have a coffee break I can pop and sit with them for a few minutes and watch them scratching around, it’s wonderful!
There are one or two bits still to finish, I have a window to install in the shed for one and the quail sections aren’t even started yet but the girls are happy and safe and I can stop stressing safe in the knowledge that I can simply stick my head out the window and check on them whenever I want to!