It doesn’t pay to be cheap when it comes to chicken coops. That’s a lesson we’ve learnt. Our hen house lasted less than a year before it started falling apart, with its flimsy wood and overall poor construction. Before it fell to pieces in one foul (fowl) blow a new house had to be found. The bonus in this situation is that I could look for one that would fit a few more chickens in it.
I still didn’t want to spend too much money but I didn’t want another crap shack. I found a guy on Trade Me who builds chicken coops and other things so I got him to build me his standard hen house with a little extra head room for roosting space. It is built out of thick plywood, which is more sturdy, easier to clean and less likely to harbour mites than the old house. Not that I’ve experienced the hideousness of mites yet, but the tongue-and-groove of the old house is said to be a nice environment for them with the hiding spaces it provides. The new house has eight nesting boxes, which is slight overkill, but hey, room for a few more chickens, right?
The chicken coop arrived home with The Husband on a trailer. How exciting! The excitement waned somewhat when we had to manoeuvre the heavy thing off the trailer. And through the not-so-big gap between the garage and the fence. And through the alley in front of the firewood shed. It just about didn’t make it. Someone may have forgotten to check the measurements for manoeuvering purposes beforehand. Fortunately, The Husband is handy and he whipped off the legs with some powertool or other. Pity that didn’t do much for the wight of the thing. We got it through sideways in a great feat of strength and The Husband re-attached the legs.
I spent a while getting the house ready and snug for the chickens. I felt quite pleased with myself as I let them back into the run for the great and glorious unveiling. They knew something was up. Down the grass passageway behind the garage they marched, led by Strider, who, by the way, has taken her shiny crown back from Sam. Go Strider! I suspect that happened after Sam came out of the broody breaker (story of my life, or at least my summer). Strider and Sam started to often eat simultaneously, whether at the pellet feeder or with the bugs I throw them in the orchard, so it was hard to tell who was in charge until I saw Strider have a go at Sam for stuffing her face. It’s a delicate balance. Poor Frodo is definitely down the bottom of the pecking order though, sometimes getting chased away from the pellets by both the others.
I digress. Down the passageway they came. What were they going to think of the new house? They stalled in the alleyway. Something had changed. We had moved the broody breaker cage to get the hen house through. They were more perturbed about this change than about the fact that there was a new house standing in their run. When I coaxed them out of the widened alleyway and into the run they were like, “What house?” “Ooh, pellets!” Obviously, they were in shock at the awesomeness of their new house and the expense and effort that I had put into it. Sometimes it just takes a while for these things to sink in. After some food, they peered at the house but wouldn’t go in because it wasn’t time yet. When I checked on them again as it was getting dark, they were all in there, albeit on the floor as near to the door as possible. Chickens aren’t so good with change. Good things take time. I’ll bet they secretly love it by now though.