This was a part I didn’t plan out in great detail, but I’m used to that. Even the well thought out plans I made for this coop got modified as I built. Typically I’m building with various material, used and new, and I incorporate what I have to make what I want. I like to think I’ve developed pretty decent system around this building process.
Just so happens, I watched this video on being more productive the morning I was going out to work on the Aviary. It made me feel better about building the Aviary from just an idea in my mind. Early in the video, I like when he said “I think it’s easy to stand around and talk about how to do something better, when if you simply put your head down and went to work, it would be done, and well done, when discussion on the best possible method was just beginning to slow up enough for somebody to begin to pick up a tool. Now I’m overstating that, but productivity is important.”
I also, I enjoyed the Frost poem, and finally CS Lewis’s quote, “Two of a trade, never agree.” and his interpretation that Everyone does it different, so learn new things from that.
But on to the Aviary…
Building a coop on a trailer meant coming up with an aviary that can be lifted for movement. I don’t have permanent perimeter fencing around the pasture to keep and protect the flock, so an aviary is necessary.
The aviary is easily detachable at the pivot/hinge, made from a caster with the wheel removed. This is for three reasons. I may use the coop with portable fencing as some point and not want the aviary attached. The corners of the aviary drag when moving, so if I’m moving over large distances, removing the aviary makes the move easier. It’s also necessary for me to use the windows as access portals to remove chickens when they are roosting in the middle, removing the aviary gives me access to the windows.
Most of the frame is made out of some scrap aluminum wire track I picked up. This helps keep it light. The wooden pallet boards are for extra strength at the corners and pivot point, and to make it easier to tie everything together. Chicken wire is zip tied to the frame and stapled to the wood where appropriate.
I turned one corner of the frame into a hatch. This mainly allows us to water the chickens. We’ve been using ground waterers in the warm months and my new solar heated waterer in the cold months. I recently setup a PVC nipple system, but the weather turned cold before I could try it out; more to come on that.
The initial plan was to use a pulley system attached to the aviary to raise and lower it like a drawbridge and attach a motor or winch to raise and lower it. Even though it’s pretty light, it a pretty hard pull to raise. This is due to the shallow angle of lift I have from the roof and that I used cheap pulleys. Even with double pulleys, it’s a struggle to lift by pulling the cables.
Currently, I raise the aviary by hand, prop it up with a bucket, then pull the slack out of the cable and tie it down, using a cleat hook on the inside. I’m thinking I may scrap the whole pulley system and just have one cable on each end that is right length to hold the frame up once I’ve raised it on the bucket.
I’ve been told I should have designed the coop so that the aviary drags behind the coop when I move it. This sounds like a good idea; however, it doesn’t make backing up easy and I’ve already built the coop. I do think a redesign is in order, I have some ideas, so more to come when I’m finished.