This morning after completing several errands in town, I arrived on site determined that the base of the chicken run would be finished today. Cliff appeared and explained his new idea for the base. Rather than put the concrete blocks running parallel to the base of the run, place them perpendicular. This would mean the blocks stuck out further from the run, providing a more challenging obstacle for any inquisitive fox. As an added bonus, it means we can walk around the edge of the coop without worrying we are squashing any crops.
So we began with the northward side of the run. The first few blocks took the most time. Getting the ground level and ensuring a tight fit with the corner stones took quite a bit of time. Using a shovel and some odd bits of brick, we reached the halfway point and adjourned for a short break. We assessed the work so far and wondered how many more blocks would be needed. I suspected we might have to go and collect more as there were three more sides to go as well as the extra ones needed for the nest box. The next few blocks dropped in perfectly seemingly without any need for alternations.
On a roll, we then turned our attention to the large 3″ x 2″ slabs which came from our greenhouse. The plan was to use the slabs as the base for the front of the run. As I levelled out the soil, Cliff carefully walked the slab across to the run. He dropped it down and both of us used our spades to wriggle the slab into position. Cliff’s idea was to put approximately three inches of the slab into the run with the rest outside. The first large slab took us up to the run door. Judging the distance left, we decided to use a 2″ x 2″ slab next before finishing off with the final 3″ x 2″ slab. Those slabs are enormously heavy to move let alone hold up on a shovel whilst I tried to shove in rocks and soil to level it out. These jobs always take longer than you think but with Cliff in charge we rapidly had done two sides within less than ninety minutes.
The other 2m long side is where the nest box will go and initially we thought we wouldn’t have to do anything with that side. But now two sides were done, we thought it would be best to do this side next. As the nest box needs to be positioned close to the run, we put the blocks parallel to the base of the run, resting on thick wire dug into the soil. These blocks fitted in quickly but there was a gap at the end between the last block and the corner blocks. Fortunately, Cliff had managed to find a half block somewhere and it fitted in as if it had been cut to fit.
Celebrating our success, we carried on to the tricky area at the back of the run. There is a narrow strip of ground between the back of the run and the boundary hedge. Working in this confined space was tricky. I laid out the wire and Cliff dropped the blocks on top. The wire wasn’t as wide as we wanted so after we got all the blocks into place, we added an extra width of wire along the outer edge of the blocks. We covered the wire in soil and strategically placed several bits of broken slab to hold down the wire. Standing back, we took a look at our hard work. It really does look very spectacular! Cliff ambled off to have a well deserved cup of tea and chat with Koko and I grabbed a bucket and began to sort the soil in the run.
The soil in the run had been thoroughly dug over and thrown around today. But for reasons only known to some previous plot holder, the entire ground was strewn with bits of plastic, broken glass and random bits of metal. Any of these could cause serious issues either because the chicken eats it or it causes injury to the feet. An hour later, Cliff dropped by to let me know he was heading home via Will’s to discuss the alternations for the roof of the nest box. The nest box roof doesn’t lift off and the only way I can clean it out is to contort myself into positions worthy of any Cirque du Soleil artist. Happily, Will is willing to adapt the roof to so I can clean the girls out more easily. Although the moving of the nest box from Rachel’s plot to it’s new home is giving me nightmares.
By the time the run was clear of rubbish, I was shattered. All that was left to do was to go around and feed the chickens. Everyone was in good form and I made sure to tell Leia and Lilja they would be moving possibly as early as tomorrow! Taking a mental note, I decided to make up the isolation coop on the plot tomorrow morning before anyone starts moving the nest box. That way, they can be safe and out of the way during the moving.
My husband appeared at the same time as Liz and Sarah. All marvelled at our hard work on the run and approved of the swing and perches I had added. It’s such a relief that it’s done and there’s no way I could have managed to do such a great job without help! Cliff is a fountain of useful knowledge and ideas and he’s always happy to help others with whatever projects they are planning.
So tomorrow’s plan is to set up Leia and Lilja in the isolation run, move the nest box and secure it into place. Then hopefully, Leia and Lilja can move into their new home!