Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Beta

Almost a year ago to the day, I posted about my designs for a new and improved chicken run for my girls. One that would be the envy of all the world’s fowl. In case you missed it last April, here’s the link…

Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Alpha

Well, a year later and I was still too swamped to make the time to finish this project. If I was being a responsible adult that is. I decided that a life focused on making ends meet isn’t enough and quickly developed a “fuck it” attitude and went and got myself some lumber and cement.

Something I should say before we even get started here is that this chicken run is by NO MEANS predator proof. Using chicken wire as a barrier is useless with raccoons, skunks and foxes as they can just tear through it like Kleenex if they’re hungry enough. Hardware cloth or steel fencing is what should be used in areas where there are predators about. Also, raccoons can open any latch that man has ever created. Little cute fluffy genius trash pandas.

I live about six miles from downtown San Diego, and even though there are skunks, possum, and raccoons in my area, they do not make it into my yard often due to all the dogs in the neighborhood. It’s a gauntlet of sharp teeth and butt-lickers before they can reach my hens so I’ve taken a much more lax approach to my chicken coop design. And over the last five years, I haven’t lost a single hen to predation *knocks on wood*.

So, that being said, here’s how to make a very overly-fancified chicken run that is a mix between the Colosseum and a circus tent.

I’ve mentioned before that my initial chicken run was slapped together in a fury and with little thought towards longevity. I wasn’t exactly sure what my needs were at the time, or the needs of my hens. Was it too much room or not enough? Was I wasting precious real estate in the yard? So I decided a simple fence wouldn’t be too terrible in the short run while I observe the hens and see how it vibes with the yard as a whole.

Just to give you an idea of the set up I have, here’s a little video to illustrate the design using the finest of modern drone technologies. Note the difference between the newer front of the run and the floppy backside. Also, if you want to learn more about the coop design, go here. I’ll wait.

I’m loving this drone footage! A very very old friend of mine was visiting recently and he brought his drone with him. Spent hours zipping all over my neighborhood and took some amazing footage. I’ll be using that for posts coming up when appropriate. Cheers Mike!


Back to the chickens. After a short while, I was able to determine what worked in the run and what didn’t work. So I began to design a modified run in my head. Which was just in time as the old one was quite literally falling apart.

Continue reading “Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Beta”

Scenes from a Winter Garden

Part One: Violet and the Ghost of the Great Pepper Tree

Violet doesn’t belong here. She wasn’t invited. And neither was her brother, Squats for that matter. These were random chickens that were squeezing their tiny fluffy butts into my garden through a gap in the fence.

Just big enough to fit little peeping babies that would peck and scratch the shit out of all my garden beds and make a hell of a mess on my manicured pathways. My precious, precious pathways.

This I could not abide for long. An action plan began forming in my head and I decided to set up some chicken traps and capture these usurpers of my calm. I set up a net at the end of my long cement makeshift patio. A tunnel of many confusing obstacles leading to a hidden circular lobster net. I then went inside and waited. Maniacally so.

After a few hours, I went out to find them in my veggie garden picking, scratching and eating all my vittles. Our eyes locked and all three of us were frozen in the timeless dance of predator v. prey. I pounced, barefoot and snarling. As planned, they leaped out of the raised bed and began sprinting down the long cement pad with me slapping bare toes behind them.

They hit the hidden net like so many drunkenly applied darts into pub dartboards. *thunk, thunk*. With wings flapping uselessly, they could do no more than submit to my gentle yet firm grasp.

After some moments of gentle cooing, I placed them in my little elevated chicken coop for newbies. And there they remained. The day was won!

Continue reading “Scenes from a Winter Garden”

Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Alpha

Holy hell people! I’ve been crazy swamped with all sorts of emergencies and/or projects and/or emergency projects. All the while thinking about how little I’ve been posting to Mind Your Dirt. So lets just quickly go through my list of excuses so that we can move on to bigger and better things.

Excuse number one:

As you know from the last post I’ve been playing wet nurse to a dying stray kitten. She was suffering from renal failure most likely from being poisoned out there in the cruel and inhospitable world of man. You can follow all those updates and video and stuff by visiting her campaign page here. Long story short, she’s doing much better now and is acting like a normal kitten should. Or all cats for that matter. A total selfish dick.

On the subject of saving the life of no-tailed yard critters, I also saved this poor little tail challenged alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata multicarinata). She fell into one of the post-holes I dug for this chicken run project and was trapped in there for who knows how long.

Her tail was most likely borrowed from her via one or more curious hens. Of which I’m sure they will return to her once they’ve completed whatever chicken scientific studies they are performing with it.

She was so grateful for her rescue (or extremely cold, dehydrated and scared shitless) that she allowed me to take a series of extremely close-up photos and videos. Here’s one that I love. It’s an alligator lizard staring contest. Ready? Go!

Aw, you lost too? So did I. She’s good. Damn good. In fact, I thought she was dead at first until I zoomed in on my camera and say her pupils dilating. Watch it again. It’s pretty trippy. Continue reading “Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Alpha”