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The building of a chicken run: this is not a "how to"

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

It’s been a little over a year now since me and some of my friends rolled the chicken coop in on a flatbed trailer and set it down on the piece of ground in which my grandparents grew corn, beans, peas, onions, and taters–red potatoes and a lot of kennebec–they store better for the winter, my grandma would say.

A friend of mine found the coop on Facebook marketplace and the funny thing was, I had just ordered the exact same coop plans and had someone price it out for me. The materials alone was the price of the coop. The owner had decided it was time to expand and needed a bigger coop. She was gracious and kind and I felt very fortunate–blessed to receive her coop–one that was evident she had valued and took well care of.

My baby chicks were enjoying the warmth of their brooder box in my kitchen in late March, but spring was coming and well–they had to go and go soon–out to the big house. And the big house needed a run and this in my eyes was going to be a problem. Let me be the first to say, I have no carpentry skills, whatsoever. Now don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from my Daddy during the fifty-five years I was blessed to have him in my life. But carpentry wasn’t his favorite thing. I reached out to a couple of people who do these sort of “odd carpentry jobs” and everyone was either too busy or the job–too small.

So, much like one of my favorite childhood’s books, The Little Red Hen--I decided I would do it myself. I started researching–watching videos on YouTube and reading a few blogs. Every afternoon after work I would gather up my tools and march myself out to the field and work some evenings until dark. And some nights I would lie awake trying to figure out how to make the door, cover the top, the easiest way to work a drill (which I still hate), or how not to cut my leg off with a skill saw, like many people told me I would do.

After thirty days and hours and hours of frustration, numerous trips to the hardware store, sore hands, bruises–the final hole was drilled and the last roll of wire intact. My chicken run, it is not Pinterest worthy–it has lots and lots of carpentry mistakes, I’m sure. I had someone ask, who dug those holes? I did, sir. Did you level up those posts? Yes, sir, I did. He kinda laughed. And I did too–still not sure he believed me.

And on those evenings when it seemed I couldn’t hold the hammer for one more minute, I could hear the crickets dance in the woods and see the lightning bugs scatter their light. And I remembered watching my Daddy hold a level or tool and sometimes blood would trickle off of his worn hands.

In a few days I will start on the next project--extending the run. I have four more hens. The ladies are getting crowded. Am I as apprehensive as before? No, but it's still one of those things--I'm still learning. And often, still doubting.

As a child my siblings and I would grumble and complain a lot when we had to work in the garden or help our family with other things that needed to be done. Looking back, I am even more grateful for my Daddy, Mama, my Grandparents, and others who made me stand back and watch on some days as they worked, and on other days made me do the work. They knew either way I was learning and never failed to encourage me when I found something I really liked to do.

Whatever it is you are thinking on–something new to learn–whether it be changing careers, making the decision to go back to school, open a new business, farm, or even build a chicken run. Always remember, you have already learned much by doing and listening and watching others. And there will always be naysayers and there will always be self-doubt. But there will also be those who will be your biggest encouragers–encourage you to try. Cherish your encouragers. That will make all the difference.


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