You know what’s the best thing about moving to an unfinished, abandoned property? The junk.
Only for us, not all of it is junk. We inherited a few piles of junk with this house, two sheds full of all kinda things, a section in the woods that must have been a dog pen or something like that (a lot of old lumber, fence, old dog houses, a gate…), wood, metal, and a whole lot of miscellaneous things.
There was a lot of cleaning to do. Some things we just didn’t want to mess with, like the hundreds of cans of green beans, corn, and plum jam that we found in the shed. We filled three dump trucks full of trash and hauled it to the dump.
Some stuff we sold to recycling, like odd pieces of aluminum and hundreds of beer cans. We made something like $140 from those.
But some stuff, like lumber, windows, metal, aluminum, and so on, we saved for future projects.
The first one was a chicken coop/tractor.
When we left our house in the city, we left our chicken coop there. The yard was set up with raised beds and such, and we thought it will attract an urban homesteader kinda person. We listed the coop as optional, we mentioned that we won’t mind taking it, but we were right, the couple who bought the house wanted the coop to stay.
So I gave our hens (we had six) to a friend to keep until we build a new coop in the new house.
We set out to build the new tractor with materials we have laying around the property. We also wanted to build something that will be big enough for at last 12 hens and a chicken tractor that we will be able to easily move in the future.
The lumber was all found in the piles of junk that were left here or in the woods. The sheets of metal were covering an old shed’s walls and the chicken fence that we covered the whole thing with was the same one I used for my deer fence a couple of years ago on the farm when I tried to grow for market.
We made four nest boxes.
They say you need one nest box for every four hens, but from my experience the hens, no matter how many you have, will always choose one or two boxes and will take turns laying their eggs in those only.
We made a door on the side so we have access to the nest boxes and can collect the eggs easily.
And another door on one end of the coop.
Once it was done, my husband dragged it with the lawn mower behind the shed.
There is kind of a dead area there with a big tree that gives nice shade so we figured we will put the chickens there.
We ended up closing the end where the nest boxes are with another piece of metal so they are protected from rain and such.
Next, my husband went back in the woods in search of cedar posts. He didn’t need to look too hard, there are thousands of them.
We placed them every six or seven feet in a big circle around the coop.
We used the chicken wire to fence the chicken yard, secured it with nails to the posts and made sure to leave a foot or so on the ground. Since it’s not tall enough I added a couple of strings, this seems to be enough to keep the hens in their yard.
We found the gate in the woods as well. All we had to do is set it up on a post.
I’ve been letting the chickens out of the yard to free range for a couple of weeks now. At the beginning, our dogs were interested in them and tried to mess with them a bit, but we corrected them a few times and it seemed like the dogs lost interest. However, a few days ago I found the black rooster in the picture dead under the shed. My daughter later told me she saw the dog chase the rooster.
I can’t be mad at the dog, though. She is a hunter and was bred for hunting. It was my mistake. I guess I’ll keep the chickens in the fence from now on or keep the dogs in their kennel if I let the chickens free-range.
All in all, we achieved what we set up to do. It might not be the most beautiful coop you’ve ever seen but it was free and the chickens seem to be happy with it.
I was so happy the day we went to pick the hens up from my friend! We have fresh eggs again and I just love, love seeing my kids run out of the house in the morning with a basket to collect the eggs.
Lady Lee is a single mother of four, she was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. From a very young age, she was very interested in agriculture and farming.
She is a former IDF fitness trainer and is passionate about simple, natural living. She now lives in NC with her four kids, dog, cat, goats, ducks, and chickens.