I had chickens from 2005-2007 and then, after some issues with my birds crossing the property line with my neighbours, I decided to re-home them and give it all up.
After a 4-year hiatus I got the itch to get chickens again. I found my next coop on Craigslist. It was the end of my week and I was just about to catch my ferry home. I contacted the owner – he wasn’t home, but gave me his address so I could take a look.
It was perfect. The only problem was I had no way of getting it over to Gabriola. His ad said delivery within Nanaimo. I asked if he was willing to bring it to me – and to my surprise, he agreed and I only had to pay for his ferry fare. I suggested he make a day of it and tour the island.
Now I had to figure out where to put it. We have 4.5 acres but most of it is treed, with lots of salal, ferns, slopes, uneven ground or wet spots. We settled on an open area across the driveway directly in front of the house. (Not the best place for hearing hens’ egg songs or crowing roosters).
Before we bought the house the previous owners had stacked 300 tires there for some future project. Once they were removed it was bare and I planted some apple and pear trees hoping for a small orchard. Those small trees have grown since then and given the girls shade and cover.
The coop – 4’x4’ floor and 5’ high- had roost bars, an external nest box and pull out shelf for cleaning. Attached to that was a 4’x 8’ wired run. The owner, Don, brought it over on a trailer behind his pick up and brought along his wife and teenaged son to help. Good thing, because even though we could back the truck into position it weighed a ton. They unscrewed the exterior nest box and run and reattached them later.
It had been hot and dry all summer and just our luck it started to rain that morning and pelted all day. I think Don and his family were so wet they ended up going straight home. I was so appreciative of his kind offer to deliver that I paid him anyway.
I somehow thought I’d be able to keep 4 girls in that little run, but I soon realized they would need more space and I wanted to be able to interact with them.
A few weeks later, we had a couple of WWOOFers from NFLD and they dug all the postholes for a 30’ x 40’ wired pen. That was no fun task digging in glacial till which is full of rocks, large and small.
We hired someone to install the posts – a combination of cedar and metal T-posts. In one corner, closest to the house he built a three-sided storage shed for my supplies. It has a metal roof and a rooftop catchment system that collects rainwater in two 50 gallon tanks that I’ve outfitted with spigots. Its great having access to water in the pen. During the dry spell in the summer I just fill them up with a hose.
I got four pullets – I wanted different breeds for visual interest: Columbian Plymouth Rock, Silver Penciled Wyandotte, Buff Orpington and a Black Australorp. They all laid brown eggs. The following summer the Orpington went broody; I let her hatch some eggs and kept some of her chicks.
I had that coop for 3 years. I repainted it and added an opening window for more light and ventilation. It suited me well, but by that time chicken math had hit me and I wanted more space and a coop I could go inside.
I sold that coop and its now over on Mudge Island, which is a tiny island 1km x 3km and only accessible by private boat. It must have been an arduous task getting that beast over there – down a long ramp and into a boat and then out again on the other side. I’m glad it wasn’t me who had to move it.
If you want to check out my next coop – a much more ambitious project – here’s the tour.