Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Geat Chicken Coop Re-location - Part Two

Again, why re-tell when my Husband has already written it all out.....

I took a couple days off to recooperate (these jokes are getting old) from the relocation project.

In that time SWMBO put a base coat of paint on the coop. During this time the chickens kept on growing so I decided to relocate the chickens to the coop regardless of its position/orientation.

The chickens were loaded into milk crates and carried them out 4 at a time to the coop, then I put a piece of wood (actually a headboard from a crib) across the ground level exits. The chickens seemed happy. Wasted the better part of an afternoon keeping an eye on them.

That night I transported them all back into the house for the night. This wasn't going to work well.

Next day I put chicken wire up on the windows and then relocated the chickens again. Covered most of the floor with dry lawn cuttings. They seemed happy, so I took out my hammer and put chicken wire up across all other potential escape routes, trapping them in. Now I could go an d do other stuff.

The chickens were in shock from the hammering, but life is full of tough times.

I hopped into the monster truck (astro van) and carefully backed it down the edge of the creekbank. Squeezing in there is always pretty tight, and I am afraid of the bank giving way under the weight of the van. I scraped along the edge of the chokecherry, and finally was wedged in close enough to get a load strap on the coop.

With the load strap on the coop, I needed to get some skis under it. We have some benches around our firepit that are made up of some oversized boards (2X12's??) from the early mesolithic period. I took a couple of them and put them under the shed. I needed the shed to both spin and slide into position, so things were looking kind of tricky. What I did was to put the boards in position such that one corner of the shed was lower than the rest of the structure. as the shed slid off the boards, that corner would dig into the soil. My hope was that the corner digging into the soft soil would build up enough resistance to the dragging motion that the shed would spin.

I peeked in the coop window and the chickens looked like they had just about recovered from my hammering and were doing OK. That was great.

Jumped into the van and eased her forward. The load strap went taught, the shed lurched forward and slid to the end of the boards, dug in to the sod, and dug a divot, then suddenly grabbed, switched direction, and spun around. When I got out of the van things were eerily quiet.

As the dust cleared, I peeked in the window of the coop, and all the chickens were huddled in a corner. I think they had thought the ride was kinda fun, like going to an amusement park.

Since everything was fine, I detached the van from the shed and carefully retraced my path along the creek. Luckily I didn't go down the bank or anything. I brought the nose of the van to the coop. A tap of the gas pedal and the van pushed the coop the rest of the way into position.

The chickens clucked and flapped their wings like they were having the time of their lives.

Now it was time to level things off. With a long steel bar and use of levers, I lifted the front of the shed and slipped in a wood block. Then I went around the back and repeated the process. Back to the front, back to the back. Putting the blocks right in the centre of the shed made it like a teeter-totter.

I think the chickens really liked it. It was like a day at the park.

Once I got the shed up high enough, I teetered it one way and slipped a cinderblock (CMU) under the corners at one end, then put some wood blocks in under the other end until I had built it up high enough that it was sitting level. YAY! Enough work for one day.

After all that work, I decided the chicks loved their new house enough to live there full-time. Somehow the water and feed had spilled in the day. Those messy chickens!! I opened the back door to clean up and put in new food and water, and the door was really hard to open. Anyway, with all the running around the chickens were doing all day they probably bumped it or something. I got the new food & water in and left things be for the night.

The Coop was up on one block at the front, and a couple pieces of wood at the back, but every guide on chickening I had read said the coop should be 12-18 inches off the ground. I figured I had better raise it up. Last night after work, I took the jack from the back of the Astro-van, and started cranking.

I think the chickens liked it best when I had one end up 2 cinderblocks high with the other end still on the ground. It was like a slide at the park!

Anyway, once I had 2 cinderblocks under each corner I realized that the roof was getting too high to build an enclosure over, so I would have to stop jacking. The coop is now in position, level, and secure. It still has no windows and no "chicken door" and no laying boxes, but it is in place, and the chickens think its lots of fun. Once I had the shed up on the cinderblocks, the back door opened properly again, so I must have fixed whatever the chickens broke when I raised up the shed and levelled it properly.

Our next steps are building the nest boxes, putting a second coat of paint on the exterior, and building an enclosure

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