Sunday EJ and I worked all day to turn the shed into a nice home for the chickens and the ducks. We began to work as soon as we had eaten breakfast, and we continued working until dusk.
Ever since we ordered the shed, I have been thinking about how to set it up. First, we moved the coops into the shed. I wasn’t sure if they would fit or were necessary, but both the chickens and the ducks seemed to love their coops so I thought I would give it a try. I figured that we could always take them out if they didn’t work. However, they looked great! (The duck coop is actually a study old dog house that the previous owners left behind.)
Next, EJ installed a vent. We had learned that good ventilation is essential because too much moisture can make the chickens sick or give them frostbite. EJ would like to install another vent, but one is good for now.
Then EJ made doors for the ducks and chickens. He made the doors out of clear Lexan (polycarbonate sheets) so some light would come through them, and he built them so they slid up and down.
While EJ was working in the shed, I built my gates. I have one gate going into the poultry compound, and I built a fence within the compound separating the chicken side from the duck side with a gate to let me go from one side to the other.
I used pieces of cattle panel for the gates because they are sturdy and inflexible. I had already attached chicken wire to the bottom half of them so that the birds couldn’t get through their large holes in the old pen. I kept the chicken wire attached to them, but I also cut some of the fence that the previous owner had used for his dog pen. It has medium-sized openings. I attached them to the fence as well to keep the poultry and predators from getting through.
Because I had to cannibalize pieces of fence from the previous pen for the new gates, I couldn’t separate the chickens and ducks in their old pen. So I shut the chickens into the new enclosure and rearranged the temporary fencing so that the ducks could go into the garage and outside pens until I was ready to move them into the new pen.
Chickens are very curious and they were fascinated by our work. They didn’t seem at all afraid of EJ’s power tools. They kept “visiting” him while he worked in the shed and often commented on what he was doing. As soon as EJ cut the hole for their door, they hopped right in, which made EJ feel good. The chickens watched me at work too.
After I finished the gates, I went into the garage and unscrewed a section of the dog pen that we had used for the birds’ inside pen. I took the section that had the door. We used it as a divider between the chicken and ducks side in the shed. The door allows me to easily access both sides. We also fastened fencing around the top of the ducks’ dog house because the chickens love to roost there.
EJ built a ramp so the ducks could get in and out of the shed. The chickens had no problem getting in and out so he didn’t build them anything.
While EJ was finishing the ramp, I went to herd the ducks into their section of the new enclosure. I used the temporary fencing to make a corridor leading the ducks into their side. Only they wanted to go everywhere except where they were supposed to. I had a horrible time getting them where I wanted them. Then they had to wait while EJ finished getting the shed ready. They weren’t particularly happy to wait. About mid-afternoon, it began to snow. It snowed and snowed, covering the ground and trees and fence. It was pretty, but we were getting chilled.
While the ducks waited, EJ attached a power strip on the wall so we can plug in the birds’ heated water dishes. The heated water dishes prevents their drinking water from freezing on cold nights. When EJ finished–ok, I was a little over-eager so before he was quite ready–I scattered straw around, moved in the food dishes, and set up their water bowls.
Finally, just as it was beginning to get a little too dark to see well, the shed was ready. We still have some “tweaking” to do, but that could wait for another time. The chickens were already nestled on their side of the shed. We herded the eager ducks up their ramp and shut the little doors with everyone snug inside. It felt very peaceful and cozy in the shed.
Finally EJ and I were able to go in the house. We were exhausted and chilled to the bones. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I fixed us a quick supper. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing…and groaning whenever we moved because our bodies ached.
Today I took this video of the chickens and ducks enjoying their new surroundings. The chickens spent a lot of time outside, but the ducks seem to be happy to spend most of their day inside the shed.