Our chicken coop is perfect-sized for two chickens. It is five feet by four feet, A framed, sized to perch on garden beds in the winter and under the laurel tree in the summer. However, we often have more than two chickens, because we like to keep the eggs coming, but cannot kill an old hen. We put them out to pasture. This is a problem; the coop that holds two ladies peacefully creates mayhem when there are four, still working out turf battles. For years, we fought with chicken wire and rebar to extend the run, but it was a huge pain, so we built The Hug. The Hug is a lightweight frame made from pvc pipe, bird netting, yarn, and a bit of duct tape. It is not elegant—yet—but it is highly functional and very inexpensive to construct.
- Visit Habitat for Humanity to purchase the pvc pipe and the joints.
- On a sunny afternoon, lay the pipes out on the garden beds to measure and cut to fit, using an old hack saw.
- Join together with the pipe connectors.
- Check for sizing on the bed.
- Trim a little more off of the end near the fence, so it fits into the bed. Leave the coop end a little wider so the gate opens up inside of the ug.
- Wrap the entire thing in bird netting and sew on using old yarn. A snazzy color is nice. Duct tape the edges near the gate so that they do not snag.
- Place on the garden bed, next to the coop.
- Using old fence boards, create the “hug” effect by attaching the fence boards to the coop, jutting out to reach (or hug) the run. This fills in the gap between coop and run.
- Lift the gate so that it becomes the ceiling between hug and coop. Attach to the upper pipe.
- Let the Ladies out. Enjoy the peace of having four chickens who are no longer constantly bumping into one another.
- When the weather gets worse, rig a sheet of used plastic roofing over the hug to keep the rain off of the chickens.
To read more about the Twenty First Street Urban Homestead, check out my blog at http://21ststreeturbanhomestead.blogspot.com.