OK, so when the new chickies come int he mail, I set them up in a former guinea pig cage with a heat lamp, in our sun room where we can watch and enjoy them.
In a few weeks, though, the fuzzy peepers become feathery poopers. Chickens have an awkward adolescent stage, much like most of us in 6th grade or so: not quite the squishably cute little one, not quite the beautifully plumaged adult. So these chicks — an awkward assemblage of new feathers and bedhead fluff — got to go outside and play all day in a little grassy run, and came back in at night to sleep. But the cage was getting too small for them, and when I am not home they are stuck indoors.
We’re working on plans for a bigger henhouse made of pallets (seven collected so far) with some interesting siding… but we can’t throw these teenagers in with the old ladies yet. So we needed a temporary housing solution that gets these girls outside.
Enter Joe Clark, a firefighter friend who has access to some big recycled shipping crates. He dropped off two of them. They are seriously LARGE. I could sleep in one if I had to, and if I stacked one on top of the other I could easily attach a human sized door and have a phone booth sized mini shed. The possibilities for invention are endless.
We didn’t want to cut or change the box at all since we’ll use it later for coop building, so we removed the plywood lid,and set it on its side on a pallet in the hen yard. I just happen to curb harvest storm windows for my hoop house gold frames, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t have on the exact size of the box opening! Between 4:00 and suppertime I screwed it on, added a barrel lock, ran an extension cord for the heat lamp, set up a makeshift perch, and filled the box with fall leaves we bagged up and stored last fall for bedding and mulch. By nightfall they were in their new cottage.
Since I am leaving town next week and my kids are in school all day, I am using pallets to make a temporary “enclosed porch” with hardware cloth to keep them safe from hawks and neighborhood cats. The whole thing looks more “Bubba’s back yard” than Martha Stewart, but a) it’s temporary and b) that’s the way I roll.