Building the New Run for the Chickens

Bertie is gone. Long live Gene Simmons the cockerel. This week after searching for a new home for Bertie we bid farewell to him as he left Pig Row, upside down, in the hands of another poultry keeper. Bertie has gone to a better place. We don't mean this metaphorically. He hasn't gone to live on a farm somewhere with all our past pets. This isn't a white lie to con Little D; who was more than happy to see Bertie go into the pot, if it came to that. If-it-came-to-that. So matter of fact is Little D. Bertie has gone to live on an allotment with a lot of other hens to keep him company. Last weekend though, and with his departure imminent, and with the sun shining we decided to crack on with our plans to increase our own poultry stock. First though we have to be honest. We have to tell you our disgusting little secret. We haven't bought an egg for months. There, it's been said, it's out there, make of it what you will. We haven't bought one egg. All our eggs, which at present come from Mrs Cluckerbuck; one hen laying them all, has become a staple of our Sunday breakfast. These eggs have been cosseted, cared for and cracked in a frying pan to the sounds of radio music. There's been enough for everyone as long as, (A) it is a Sunday, and; (B) IT IS A SUNDAY. That means we need more hens. Hens are very addictive. Mrs Cluckerbuck has lived with two cockerels and frankly she needs a rest. Too many cocks spoil the hen house and we are now down to one but let's rewind to the last Bank Holiday weekend.  

chickens, pig row,

With the demise of the shed, and before it the death of the polytunnel, we have had an area in the garden too small for crops, too large for a patio. It has become a dumping ground from comfrey feed barrels, to water butts to be refitted to the glasshouse, to the chickens after the lifting of the avian flu prevention zone. It is safe to say this is where gardening canes go to die. Certainly, the compost bin that slotted together has died here, its belly swelling, erupting and then cracking. We try to fix it but in the bid to move back time, push in plastic, the thing shatters and is consigned to the pile for the tip. Somethings you can't upcycle, somethings just need recycling. We've had it four years and it was recycled then from another garden.

gardening, chickens, keeping chickens in gardens

This means we have lots of well rotted compost to spread around the raspberries and an area to level.

keeping chickens, life on pig row

Our new run comes in a box. Yes, we know we could have built our own but by the time we costed it up it came to more than we paid for the thing on a well known auction website. Our costings for our homemade run didn't have a roof, and this does. Sometimes you just have to accept that somewhere in the world, someone is churning out things cheaper than you can make them and with a shelf life that runs much further than your attempt. You just have to accept that you win some, lose some. In our case, the loss is the box weighs a ton. We have to carry up sections of the run, pole by pole, bracket by bracket, wingnut by wingnut - well, maybe not that intricate.

chicken runs

We decided to construct the roof to the new run; following the instructions, on the bed opposite the raspberries. This effectively places the raspberries between us and the new site for the run. You may be thinking at this moment that we should have considered that we had to move this roof section and that the raspberries are in the way. You may be thinking that. We weren't. Surely, it would be easy to move? Surely...


Like any good flat pack idiot - oh, how we hate them - we laid out all the lengths. We looked at the instructions and trudged downhill for a tape measure, that way we knew we had the right sections because to find the right sections first you had to identify how long each of them was and then flick to another page to find out what they were called and where they went. Oh, how we hate flat packs.

chickens, chicken keeping, pig row

The cross sections, end brackets, corner pieces where all easy to identify and the instructions clearly stated not to tighten up the wingnuts too tight. Some of them didn't go in. Oh, how we hate flat packs! Down the hill, through the house, to the car for some WD-40. Out of the car boot, lock the car, through the front door, through the house, up the hill and we're not going on a bloody bear hunt! So, we spray the WD-40 and the wing nuts go in and the roof is constructed, upside down because that seemed the easiest way to do it. Oh-oh. Yes, it's time to flip it around the right way. The down side is that one of us is 6' 4" and the other is 5' 6". Cue some yelling. Cue to you, to me. Cue do it this way, watch me, no watch me. Cue declarations of war. Cue declarations of I'm going inside if you talk that way to me again. As the thing flips around the right way and we go from ship shape to roof shape those wingnuts the instructions tell us not to tighten up too much let go of their desire to grip and the roof section divides. There's poles at different angles. We are modern architecture on the move. More yelling. More declarations. We hate flat packs! And, then the roof is the right way around. The bed we have been working on looks like the aftermath of a Sumo wrestle on jelly. Okay, that was the hard part. Now all we have to do is lift it up and carry it over the raspberries. Remember, one of us is tall, the other is medium, and the raspberry canes are tall, very tall. We ask for Little D's help, he has opted for staying way down the garden with a book. He approaches cautiously, not sure whether to run, smile or learn a martial art. It seems ludicrous but we think he can help, he's barely over four feet. We ask him to get the wingnuts scattered across the soil. He goes to the box and comes back with a bracket. Safe to say that we have never taught him what a wingnut is. He yells. We yell. We all fall out. We hate flat packs. We then fumble, shout and badger the new run roof over the raspberries to cries of keep going, don't bloody stop now and sod what the neighbours think. Safe to say that the neighbours went in during the construction of the roof debacle. By a miracle, sheer ignorance of the laws of physics and much puffing we get the new run over the raspberries and jammed into the space.

building a chicken run

We even have time to do a pissed off pose with it. This pose was brought to you by the letters: N-E-V-E-R-A-G-A-I-N.


We go round placing the side supports on and the plates to be anchored into the ground. We consider doing the wire netting for a split second and declare it's time for a cup of tea. So, all down the hill, through the kitchen, into the family room, sit down, shoes off, tea poured and peace. Then we realise that we left the tape measure in the garden. Bugger.


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