Monday, September 22, 2008

The chicken coop gets expanded and fortified

While I was at Yiddish Week, all my chickens were killed. I figured it was raccoons, but it wasn't until today, when I was cleaning the feathers and post-carnage flotsam out of the coop, that I saw conclusive proof.

As soon as I got home I ordered a dozen mail-order chickens, assorted females. They were tiny when they arrived, but now, 2.5 weeks later, they are boiling up out of their containment area. They walk up and down this knife-thin edge of masonite, flapping their wings continually to keep their balance, and sometimes they fall out, and sometimes they fly to us as we sit at the kitchen table and land on our shoulders. This is not sanitary.

They have a lot of feathers now, except on their heads, which gives them a buzzard-like quality.

The brown ones are the prettiest, but also the lightest - they haven't bulked up like the others.

Since I was going to have to beef up security, I figured I'd improve the coop annex while I was at it. The dear departed ones never liked the second coop, which I had bought on Craig's List and got Jethro to tow on site. It was too low and too narrow and had no place to roost.

So one day recently Menticia and I took the jigsaw and cut most of the old roof off it. I cantilevered an addition onto the base (the dark red is the old part of the coop). I made two windowed upper panels and two hinged lower panels that pull in under the top and fasten with hanger bolts and wing nuts.

I added a hasp and a LOCK to the front and rear doors. If raccoons don't have skeleton keys they will hopefully be frustrated. (I didn't get combination locks because Bob told me he used to have a pet raccoon and it reached through the bars and twirled the combination lock endlessly for entertainment. Like monkeys typing Shakespeare, perhaps it would eventually succeed.)

I think it looks kind of like a bathysphere but Ezra doesn't agree.

Here's a rear view. I added the nesting boxes (the farthest back part); the part with the tin roof is the only part of the coop annex I didn't expand.

This is my favorite part of the coop - the connecting passageway with a real glass window.

Here's the interior of the new henhouse annex. I wired it for light from the light in the old part of the coop, and added a big long roost. I think it will be a hit. This was a great project for Menticia and me to do together.

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