Main article: Foxhall garden
My mobile chicken armada has five elements:
- The chickens - starting up with 6 hens... four Rhodies and 2 Black Australorps.
- The mothership - a 2-wheeled lightweight chicken coop carryall provisioned for 10 hens. It unfortunately contains a lot of virgin materials, but was designed to be long-lived, and very portable.
- The tractor - a 4' x 8' lightweight portable yard that fits over our annual garden beds (also 4' wide), and in the future will be used primarily for raising working broilers during the summer. while the hens lounge in luxury in the yard.
- The yard - a system of 3-4 chicken forage yards with a coyote, fox, dog resistent perimeter fence, a lightweight raptor net over the active yard, and some kind of lightweight interior dividers. The mothership can roll between yards when not providing chicken housing in another part of the landscape. This is still evolving. There is a mulberry, a russian mountain ash, and chinese mahaw planted inside and the site is pasture, but I am imagining putting raspberries growing on the divisions between the runs, or in clumps, or some other arrangement of human harvest edibles in the chicken sequence. Each run will have a single strip down the middle, tilled by chickens for raising chicken feed grains.
- The portable fence - using plastic netting fixed with bulldog clips to 1/2 rebar posts easily driven by a length of iron pipe , can be quickly installed to allow chicken forage in any of the food forests with the mothership parked inside. Am alternately thinking of a fixed set of totemic poles (chicken spirit runes warding away racoons?) around the food forests that are pretty when the fence isn't installed.
Many thanks to my chicken loving neighbors who showed me all their mistakes.
Lessons Learned[edit | edit source]
The Mothership[edit | edit source]
- For opening lids I would prefer two light weight lids over a single larger lid.
- It is tricky opening and closing the main hatch with the chicken tractor attached and the roof overhang, I will have to create hand-sized door in the tractor and place the latch so that it is convenient.
- The 1/2 inch mesh floor could have been larger, but I don't know if this would have been bad, I have heard that Racoons can reach through 1 inch mesh.
- I used 8 inch wheels. In uneven terrain recycled bicycle wheels would work better, but may suffer for the weather.
- I will improve the handles to make it more convenient.
The Tractor[edit | edit source]
- Still too heavy (but may be good for predators.) I would use bent and lashed cedar branches in the next model, to reduce virgin materials and weight.
- I will develop some kind of skid system so it will slide better.