Protecting Hens From Hawks With (Some) Style

This is the system we now use to keep the hens safe. I hope to find something even more pleasing to the eye, but this is a big upgrade. I bought the most attractive budget greenhouse that I believe could hold up to the Northern snows we get, set up just the FRAME, and spread bird netting over it. As the winter really sets in and the wind gets brutal the plan is to put the green house cover on and provide our hens a nice sunny play area…but best laid plans sometimes collapse. We’ll see what happens.

I’ve been obsessed with greenhouses for decades and own several portable versions in my basement that have never been out of the box (don’t tell my long-suffering hubby). I finally came across some designs that are scalable, portable and can stand up to the harsh winds and heavy snows we get here. I bought the building tools to make my own, but with a broken leg and approaching winter I had to compromise quickly for something that was a full kit complete with plastic cover and light enough I could move by myself. I was lucky to find a smaller and lighter version that kept the basic design that I have fallen in love with.

I made a change to the kit that was an important element of the more robust design I hope to build in the future….putting the “Ridge Board” (the long bar that goes along the roof peak) on TOP of the sidewall/rafters instead of under them. The idea is to give that extra little lift to the plastic so the snow will slide off. Again, I’ll let you know how that pans out this winter. This also gives an instant boost to the look of the frame. Instead of the ‘fast food sunroom’ look, it nudges the appearance a tiny bit closer to ‘Victorian Arch’.

This isn’t the first incarnation of this idea though. I had no idea I would even have to worry about this. When we moved the chickens from the garage to back yard they were fully feathered but still rather small and skittish. They were afraid of their own shadow the first day and wouldn’t come out of the coop to enjoy the yard unless a human stood out there with them. It was quite endearing. After two days of the young chickens being in the backyard we started hearing a hawk nearby. Even without a mother hen to teach them, the chickens instinctively went silent and scampered inside the coop. I quickly ordered some hawk netting and just spread it over the coop and tacked down the edges.

Just throwing the net over everything worked, but it was really hard to navigate. The kids found it to be a huge hassle to wrestle when they wanted to get eggs or hang out with the chickens. Then I built this ugly thing in my backyard. It’s an eyesore, but I’m not ashamed because I was just desperately trying to find something to keep them safe. You can see how much excess netting I have gathered at the edges of the play area. I wanted to figure out what would work for us and then make/get a good looking version later.

We like to be able to move the structure around so the scratching hens don’t kill hubby’s grass…but I really don’t know if that’s avoidable. With the little chunnel (chicken tunnel) made of chicken wire we are able to get the chicken yard away from the coop so netting isn’t catching on everything. That was a pain in the neck before, and didn’t allow me to move the chicken yard very far from the coop so that chickens could get fresh grass.

The chunnel was crazy easy too…just chicken wire stapled to the coop door and the greenhouse stakes that came with my greenhouse kit holding the edges down. I’m going to test all this out this winter. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I think there could be an even more attractive option out there. But if I have to choose between something looking good and something working right, I will always choose what works right and spray paint it black!

Just a note if you want to get some netting….I found choosing very confusing. There is a wide range of quality out there. You can pick up some ultra cheap ‘garden netting’ that might get you through a year depending on what kind of weather and predators you face, by the time you get just two of these small nets, you could have purchased much larger and more robust’ bird netting‘. The ‘hawk netting’ I originally purchased is much heavier than the ‘bird netting’ I’m now using in the subdivision. It was much more expensive than the ‘bird netting’ or ‘garden netting’ and should last many, many years. The bird netting I’m using already has several holes torn in it but mostly disappears from sight to create a more pleasing view. I like both and will continue to use the hawk netting out at the farm and the bird netting here in the suburbs. The Hawk Netting I bought is back in stock at the time of this writing and you can get that version here. Each opening is knotted…it’s kind of impressively heavy because it is 50’x 50′. Way bigger than what I really need here in the Suburbs, but should be perfect at the farm. There is a poultry farm seller selling a more expensive version than I got, but it looks exactly like the quality that I purchased. The much lighter weight Bird Netting I bought for this winter is not available from the same seller, but you can get what appears to be the same thing here . At 10M x 10M (about 30 feet by 30 feet) it is still a little more than I need, but maybe I’ll be glad for the extra bit later on. It calls itself heavyweight which is hilarious compared to the Hawk net which shows huge knots tied at each connection point. Holes have formed where the net caught on the greenhouse frame or where it was kicked by a snow boot at below freezing temperatures. By the way, neither of these will stop a racoon or opossum, this is just for discouraging a hawk.

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The Perfect Thank You Gift For Chicken Babysitting

Any Homesteader can tell you that finding someone to care for your livestock is not the same as finding someone to feed your fish while you are gone. The sheer logistics alone can be a nightmare, much less the specialized knowledge of how to find where the broody hen keeps hiding her eggs. While recovering from a broken leg I realized that winter would catch me before I could build a winter coop out on my farm in the next town.

I could probably sneak a few hens into my subdivision, but the surprise Rooster in my flock would jeopardize the whole mission. This is the moment the Homesteader’s Hero enters the scene. My Homestead Hero is Amy. Amy is a force of nature who at one point had a huge garden, Southdown Baby Doll Sheep, Laying Hens, Cow Dogs, Cats and would can up a batch of peaches on a whim! Amy rose to the challenge of caring for the extra hens and noisy rooster like a champ.

What can you give such a brave soul? A fancy advent calendar was a fantastic idea; but…they sell out within just a few days of hitting the stores. What about creating an advent calendar of our own that let’s my Homestead Hero know how much I appreciate the support in my Homesteading Adventure? Yeah, that might work!

What you need is a way to give something useful to your Homestead Hero while also letting them know how very special they are to you. We could have just bought a cute kit to fill, but I decided to take it one step further. It took a little while and some driving around, but we located 24 little ‘surprises’, wrapped them all different and numbered them. After the monotony of 2020, my Hero really enjoyed it. Just an idea for next time you need to thank someone special.

Brass Egg™ participates in affiliate marketing programs, and may receive compensation when you click and purchase from links to retailers. Brass Egg™ of Russell Holdings Group, LLC 2021. All content ©2021 Russell Illinois Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.