My research for a simply constructed hen house lead me to straw bale houses. They seemed simple to build, required little carpentry skills and they were cheap. Most all other options involved about $500 of lumber and materials to build AND I worried about the time it would take for me to do it by myself. I needed these chickens OUT of my house.
I can now share that the material for a hay house is cheap.
But they aren’t easy to build.
We had the hardest time figuring out how to stabilize the walls. Rebar, stakes and poly twine – all of the materials suggested by the books I was reading on how great these straw bale houses are – just weren’t working. We finally got the roof and walls up after two days of work by four people. I thought perhaps the structure just might last one year. Two of those people were paid, by me, making the labor costs close to $500. Perfect. We now have the most expensive free-range, organic eggs a person could buy.
What the folks who recommend the straw bale houses fail to let you know is the hens peck at the straw to the point of making huge holes in the walls and the bales fall over once they get wet no matter how you stabilize them. Unless of course you start to nail up boards to keep the bales up, in which case, why not just sheath the thing in wood to begin with!
This picture was taken right after we finished construction.
© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing
There were now 28 ugly teen-aged chicks living in my house. They were dusty, scraggly and smelly. We are talking wood shop dusty because they constantly scratch the sawdust bedding put down for them in the kiddie swimming pool in which they occasionally stayed. The rest of the time they spent flapping their wings, hopping up on the edge of the pool and doing what they do best – pooping. I hardly need to say – hence the smelly.
I desperately needed a hen house for these creatures. I have a very handy husband. He can make almost anything and often he does, but we have an agreement about the chickens which I think is only fair although at the time I realized I was now desperate for the hen house I sorely regretted making this agreement. The bargain was, I could get chickens IF Jon didn’t have do anything with them. No building, no feeding, no cleaning, no getting wood from the hardware store in his truck for the hen house, absolutely no nothing. You know when you are a kid and you want that puppy so badly you will promise almost anything? As in, "You’ll never have to do a single thing, Dad. I’ll always walk the dog, pick up the …. in the yard and feed him." And then, you go to college and your dad is stuck doing all the things he’s been doing for the past 10 years with the dog anyway.
It didn’t happen like that for me. My husband is soft spoken, but he’s no pushover. When he says something, he remembers and he doesn’t go back on it. So now I had to figure out how to build this ridiculous hen house by myself without spending gobs of time doing it because it’s now four weeks before our sailing season starts and life is starting to get really busy.
So I pulled the crew off the boat and made them help me for two days on the hen house. Which they of course loved. If you think two men who came to Maine from southern states to sail and have a grand summer adventure were happy about the boss making them build a hen house…. hmmm.
In any event, it got done.
© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing