Posted by tony on Jun 5, 2008

What have chickens got to do with box making? I hear you ask.

Well, my youngest son has got it into his head that if Mum says he can’t have a dog or cat for a pet then let’s at least get a pet that will give something back.

Many years ago when self sufficiency was all the rage (mid 70’s and ‘Tom & Barbara Good) I was hooked by it and have recently been telling Alexander about my various exploits and my first move to Norfolk with some friends.

I managed to buy a run down cottage with a large garden which took all my money and most of my time. I kept chickens, ducks, rabbits and my faithful old pooch Lindy, sadly missed and never replaced, she couldn’t be anyway.

To come back to the present, what we need now is a big box for the chickens to live in, hence the connection. I have to admit to wanting to cheat and save time by just buying a house for them but after a little research and huge intakes of breath through the teeth (remember the time you spoke to the garage mechanic when your car needed fixing) I knuckled down and got out the sketchpad for a little designing. One thing I discovered is that chickens seem to be the latest “must have” fashion accessory and believe it or not I came across lime green and purple plastic monstrosities that were selling for anything up to £800

As we have told him that 3 chickens will be more than enough to look after, it didn’t have to be of shed proportions. So together we sat down and designed his house and run. It is of typical ark construction made with 50mmx50mm and tongue and groove cladding, all left over from when I built the potting shed for the wife. I always say no piece of timber is too small to be of use and this proved to be the case here as the top of the arc needed parts less than 100mm wide. The hinges for the access flaps were recovered from an old pine display unit that I have just refurbished for a client, they were a little bent but nothing that couldn’t be cured in the vice with a few clumps from the old hammer. All in all I have only spent time so it has been a good project. The expense comes when the birds are purchased.

I worked for a couple of years in the poultry trade, back when birds were housed in cages, some still are unfortunately, so I am well aware of the horrors of battery farming. Not wishing to divert too much from the subject but I hope you will believe me when I say that all of us who worked on those farms spent a lot of time and energy on the welfare of the birds and a lot of the drama in the media was directed towards the horror sites which was a very small minority on the whole. I am glad it is now finished but if you want cheap eggs….. I shall now climb down from my soap box. There’s a thought.. make a soap box.

The next part is the run. I know it sounds very romantic to have chickens wandering around the garden and yes they eat lots of insects and creepy crawlies but they will also devour just about anything that is green and we would like to have the vegetables on our plates next to the chicken not inside the chicken. Woops!!  horror story, no no I am not going to eat his pets they are for the eggs not the table. Besides which Mum will be even less keen if they ate all her flowers as well. I remember a goat we once kept that managed to get into the next door neighbours garden and ate all his onions. We milked her the next morning, as usual but had to throw it away as it tasted, you guessed it, of very strong onion.

Back to the run. A very simple construction of 3 triangular shaped sections covered with chicken wire and simply attached to the chicken house

with a couple of quick release clips to assist in easy moving. This will be part of Alexanders routine husbandry to give them a fresh patch of grass every day. It remains to be seen when the novelty wears off but I am hopeful he will stick at it.

 Awaiting Livestock

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