Allotment · Chickens · Quail

The Chicken Coop Saga

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. 

Rabbit hutch to chicken coop
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. 

Finished Rabbit hutch to chicken coop
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!

Allotment Chicken Run
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. 

Peggy, Natasha, Pepper and Riri
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.) 

Temporary storage box chicken coop
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!)

New chicken run concept artNew chicken coop concept art
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!

 Back garden blue shed 

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!):

Back garden blue shed raised bed
Now, the hard part was over (so I naively thought!) I just needed to make a mesh wall to separate the run from the garden, cover the run with netting and convert the shed into a chicken coop… Simple!

Back garden chicken run blue shedShed Interior chicken coop
Again, let me just mention how very good my friends are to me! Eventually it was all done and th girls moved in. My lawn is now slowly recovering and they’re happy exploring their new home. 

Chicken roost barCoffee with the chickens on the raised bed

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!

Perching chickensBelfast sink chicken dust bath

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! Safe back garden chicken run

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