Summer 2007We bought 10, five day old chicks in early July 2007 completely unprepared and with no accommodation's for them. The guy we bought them from was nice enough to spend a bit of his time helping us figure it all out and when we got home it seemed easy enough to keep the little girls happy.
I set up a cardboard pen inside "The Trillium" which is part greenhouse, part storage room with a direct vent propane heater and automatic vent opener attached to the upper windows (Peaceful Valley seed catalog). This kept the ladies warm in the evening and comfortable during the day.
Here they stayed for a month or so until I built an Ark. AKA - Chicken Tractor
My birds were too small this season to be absolutely effective and since they were I had some serious problems.
The first couple of nights they were not going in to roost for the evening and something was getting them in the night. My first thought was something was reaching through the chicken wire and taking hold of the chicks. The first night one was killed and the second night two. Another was lost on the third night and I realized something was digging underneath the ark and taking their sweet time dining.
My solution was to affix an apron of hardware cloth, (1/4" metal mesh) 6-7" wide around the bottom perimeter of the ark. Problem solved.
Over the next couple of months I'd rotate the chickens from the Trillium, to the Ark, and also into a small fenced in area but only when I would be there to watch them. Were surrounded by pretty deep woods and anything is possible.
With winter fast approaching I had to build a permanent coop. I wanted my Trillium back and the Ark was too small even for a few birds to winter over in.
Location was important so that I could easily access the coop without having to shovel too much snow or walk too far while lugging in fresh, warm water.
Once the spot was determined I laid out a serious foundation (for Shack Valley) for a coop.
Field stone and cement laid right on the grade.