We always assumed we’d build a movable chicken coop, a la Polyface Farms. Will even read a book on day ranging chickens while in Las Vegas (just picture that for a moment… everyone else sunning themselves while flipping through US Weekly or Vogue, and my husband decked in a pair of jeans rolled up the knees studying Day Range Poultry and drinking a bloody mary). It was actually because of that book that we ordered the hoop house in the first place.
But, looking at the pile of rods and the prospects of trying to make the thing light enough to be movable but strong enough to not rip apart while being moved, it suddenly occurred to us that we don’t have some massive beef operation over 50 acres where we need the chickens to serve as the clean up crew… we have a 3 acre pasture.
Meaning maybe we didn’t need to move the hen house, maybe we could just use the poultry netting to move the hens. In the spring, we can always build chicken tractors for the broilers to make sure all that good chicken poop and scratching gets evenly spread and helps the grass grow even more lushly for the sheep’s dinner. But let’s keep things simple for our 30+ ladies and let them stay put. Plus, if we decide using a hoop house isn’t working for us, we’ll have one super fertilized green house.
Will and his dad set to work. The first task was straightforward enough – drive the posts several feet into the ground and frame out the structure.
After that things fell apart in the instructions department. You see, the kit came with the metal frame and the plastic cover, but it pretty much stopped there. The instructions reference needing to buy wood and a door but they don’t give any dimensions. Maybe it’s a farmer thing, where they do this all the time and don’t need explicit, step-by-step guides (ideally with illustrations). Or maybe it’s that having recently had a child we’ve grown accustomed to 14 page manuals for how to open a stroller. Regardless, the lack of guidance was frustrating and resulted in multiple trips to the hardware store. Wood had to be bought and cut to frame the base. Then we needed to figure out how to attach said wood to said metal frame. Then strips of wood needed to be cut thin enough to bend with the arc of the house so there would actually be something to fasten the plastic cover to (using staples, or at least that’s what we did, because there was no mention of how to get the plastic to stay put).
What was billed as a Saturday project spanned several weekends, but we final have a hoop house for the chickens (who are currently living in the shed).
The white fencing in the picture is the poultry netting and that black box on a stick is the solar power battery to electrify the fence (can you tell we’re determined not to lose any of this batch of birds).
Just like the hoop house, the poultry netting and battery also suffer from the assumption that anyone who would possibly buy something as specific as this product must know how to use it. Of the 12 steps in the instructions, 8 of them pertain to unrolling the fence and 1 covers electrifying it. Seriously? I can handle unrolling something, but you want me to send 2,000 volts of electricity through a bunch of plastic netting and all you can give me is “attach battery” ? They are kind enough to throw in a gauge to check the voltage level, but there are no instructions whatsoever on how to use it.
In the process of hooking everything up, Watson ran over to us, grazed the fence and yelped. We assumed everything must be working.