chicken run

This past weekend was full of more beautiful sunny days–perfect for an outside construction project with the boys. So on Sunday we started the day with a trip to the hardware store and plans to make a
portable chicken run.

As soon as the pullets (the technical term for a hen less than a year old) are old enough to move outdoors they’ll have a proper coop and a run, and then free-range when I’m working in the garden. But for now (when they’re young and just having daytime visits to the outdoors) we need to protect them from hawks and other predators. And later when they can free-range more safely I’ll still occasionally want some way to contain them to certain parts of the yard (so they don’t eat new seedlings etc.)

I had a vision of what I wanted the portable run to look like and was lucky enough to find a detailed how-to for building just what I had in mind on Mother Earth News.

Even though it would have been fun to design on my own it was incredibly helpful to have the quantities and dimensions all worked out in advance. (Thank you Troy Griepentrog!) There were so many times during the building process when I imagined the trouble I would undoubtedly have gotten myself into without Troy’s plan (like not basing the framing dimensions on a standard width of chicken wire.) The only real change I made to the original plan was
substituting 2 x 2s for the 2 x 4s that were called for. Even though
this compromised the structural integrity of the run, I really needed
it to be light enough (it barely is even now) for me to lift and move
around on my own.

The best part of having the step-by-step guide though was that it allowed me to relax and be able to focus on guiding the kids to do as much as they could. Having them involved was a lot of fun and a great learning opportunity on so many levels–visualization, design, use of materials, measuring, adding, spatial thinking, physics etc. Except for the sawing and drilling (which I did) they were really able to help with quite a lot of the building. Because they were so involved it really held their attention from start to finish. And when we were done they clearly felt a huge sense of accomplishment. An extra bonus to the whole project.

I’m very happy with how it turned out and its already getting a lot of use–not just by the chicks but also by the boys who like to play in it too!


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