For the last few weeks our only hen has been setting. Today, on our way into town we stopped to check on her. She had set up a nest under an old trailer gate propped against a retaining wall just in front of where we park. So when we lifted the gate and heard peeping we were quite ecstatic.
The problem was we have an assortment of stray cats around who would just love to have an easy meal of dibby meat. So what to do?
A few years ago we bought some chicks from Tractor Supply, and with the cool weather still hanging around we needed something warm to sleep in. With a few sheets of OSB, a bit of chicken wire, a piece of finish wood and a couple of 2×3’s we threw together a brood box and dangled an old lamp light in for the heat. When the dibbies grew out of the box it got pushed aside and neglected. (Just as a piece of advice; Do not brood chicks in your kitchen. You will never get the dust out. Just trust us on this one.)
So when we were considering a cheap way to move the hen and her soon to be dibs we had the idea of converting the unused, and slightly weathered, brood box into a peaceful haven for our hen and her eggs.
The conversion started with a few plunge cuts to one side for an entrance to the new addition. Then we screwed a 2×4 scrap above the entrance to give us somewhere to place a scrap piece of OSB to create an awning. We then screwed another 2×4 scrap piece to the bottom of the entrance but we turned this one so that the wider part of the board is sticking outward to create a kind of perch for easier entrance. We had robbed the hinges off our brood box to hinge the door onto our duck pen so we screwed the lid down on one side, allowing us to push a small board under the free side for extra ventilation. We also had a piece of corrugated plastic laying about that was split in half and fastened to the top (since the original top was a few pieces of finish board and a bit of chicken wire).
We decided it would be best if she was locked in for a few days before we gave her free roam again, just to give her time to accept her new home. We had just bought a flat of vegetable plants from the local technical center, where i was a treasurer in the FFA and graduated top of my masonry class. I was glad to help out with a program that has influenced quite a few of my choices as an adult, but more so that the tray we carried our veggies home in was a perfect fit between our awning and perch. A few staples to hold it in place and our hen was relocated along with her eggs to a more comfortable space with food and water just a few feet away.
We are hoping that this will increase the security of our hen and new chicks. Though our hen is a Rhode Island Red and we are not sure she will need much help, we still try to take care of our animals when we can. After all, They are taking care of us.