Now that the decision to stay put has been made, I have spent the last week trying to organise a new abode for the ladies. The six older girls currently reside in the Convent quite happily, but there is not room for the chooklets to join them. The Convent run is approximately 20 sqaure feet in size, which is adequate for six small hens as long as they get plenty of free ranging opportunities. Adding two more to the current set up would be overcrowding, and lead to stress in the flock. Stress leads to health problems and bullying (I'm sure I don't need to go in to the evils of battery farming chickens here, so I won't).
Therefore, I have been looking at my options. In an ideal world, my chook palace would be walk in, with a six foot ceiling height. With a footprint of approx. 6 x 9 feet, it would give my girls a floor space of 54sqft. This is a decent amount of space for birds that might never free range (although my girls will always have the opportunity to undo all of my gardening efforts). It will also be built like Fort Knox, allowing total peace of mind when we travel.
I managed to find a few examples online, but the price made the ever tolerant husband go a funny colour. Thinking outside the box, I decided to make contact with a few local joiners, in the hope that they could build me exactly what I wanted for a slightly less cardiac arrest-inducing price.
It often slips my mind that other people aren't chicken obsessed. Its become such a normal part of our every day lives to step over squatting hens when hanging out the washing, or to find random feathers under the sofa, that I just assume that others also know everything there is to know about chooks. So when I started blathering on about pop holes, nest boxes and wind breaks to the joiner stood in my kitchen and he looked at me like I was slightly mad, I think it was a shock for both of us. I resorted to showing him an expensive online example. He was still a little nonplussed, and muttered about research before hightailing it for the safety of his transit van. His quote came in the next day at several hundred pounds over budget. I suspect that he didn't really want to build my chook palace.
The second joiner was much more enthusiastic, and even made several sensible suggestions himself. When he left, I felt a warm glow of satisfaction that my needs had been understood. Unfortunately, it was a fleeting satisfaction, as his quote came in at over a thousand pounds. I didn't even show the ever tolerant husband that one.
The third joiner has disappeared in to the sunset with his tape measure and sketch pad, never to be heard of again. Well, by the madchickenlady anyway. Honestly, you'd think that people had never seen a chicken before. Admittedly, Maude did try to sit on his shoulder, but shes a sociable bird. Also, he was wearing a hoop earring. Maude likes earrings.
So, it looks like the expensive internet options are actually the more affordable. Amazingly, the ever tolerant husband seems resigned to having his wallet hoovered out in the near future. I am determined to have the chook palace in situ by the end of May.
We are no longer moving, but the girls are.