Gertie gets a new life

She started her life in 1968 as a two-horse trailer. From all her scrapes, gouges, and bends, it’s clear that she must have lived a busy life before she came to A Little Farm.

But this quinquaginarian is just at the beginning of a new chapter as we give her renewed purpose as carrier/protector/home for 70 chickens–our mobile chicken coop.

A mobile chicken coop needs a few things:

  • places to lay eggs–nest boxes
  • places to sleep–roosts
  • protection from rain/snow
  • access to the outside
  • wheels

People build mobile coops on all sorts of bases–hay wagons, RVs, school buses, mobile home frames, trailers, skids. We opted for the horse trailer for a few reasons:

  1. It’s beefy. We get a lot of wind up here, so I didn’t want something that could blow over.
  2. It can handle weight. Smaller trailer options have weight limits that could be tough to keep under when you add the lumber for the build-out plus 70 5-lb birds.
  3. It was cheap. Old two-horse trailers around here tend to show up on Craigslist for $1500-$3000. Our was half the low end. Sure, she’s not exactly square so the back door doesn’t want to close, but you can’t beat that price! And chickens don’t care.

So the first thing we needed to do after removing all the rotting plywood and flaking paint was cut openings in the sidewalls to add nest boxes that will hang off the sides like saddle bags. Dan cut the panels out of the sides of the steel and I built the frame out of 2x3s.

It’s really tough to get any work done when you have unexpected visitors! (Two on this side of me, three on the other, and Daddy watching from a safe distance in the forest beyond.) I love our place in the world!

After the frame was solid, I could secure the plywood floor for the nest box, then attach the side (complete with the panel we removed from the original side) and ends.

All of the wood will get a good coating of exterior latex paint to prolong its life.

Chickens will enter the nesting areas from the inside to lay their eggs. A convenient hinged lid will allow us to gather eggs from the outside of the coop each day.

Cuddles the Wonder Chicken even came over to get a sneak peek. This is the nest box area from the inside. We’ll add masonite dividers to make six separate boxes. And I’m thinking curtains will be happening, too. Gotta make it homey!

Next up: finish nest boxes on both sides, add roosts, replace flooring, install chicken hatch door, install water system, paint interior and exterior.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *