Breaking in a New Possum.....and a Coop Tour

The struggle is real, y'all!  When you have chickens, you begin a complicated relationship with all the other critters that share the habitat with you and the chickens.  Although we live in Dallas proper, the area we live in has a lot of wildlife.  There is a nature preserve a few blocks away, there is a wooded creek area across the main road, and there are tons of old trees in our neighborhood.  In the area, there are hawks, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, rats, and opossums.  We have only seen the hawks and opossums here at the Boxer Farm, thank goodness.

For several months, we had a possum (no disrespect meant to the opossum community--possum just rolls off the tongue a little smoother) that we grew to trust.  It would come out during the day light.  I always was fearful of possums getting to the chickens.  One day, I came outside and saw the possum eating chicken food out of their bowls, with the chickens right next to it!  I realized the possum had no interest in the chickens, just their food, so I relaxed.  Opossums stick to a territory, so the same possum was with us for a while.  Here he or she is, balanced on our power lines:

And then, something super sad happened.  We saw our possum dead on the main road, hit by a car.  Sigh. So sad. Obviously, a new possum is going to move in on this prime chicken food territory.  And we'll have to figure out if it's trustworthy.  This is literally #ChickenPeopleProblems.  We've seen a big possum and two babies--we're trying to build trust with these new possums--feeding them over our fence, trying to be sweet to them--we'll see how it goes.  I want them to realize the relationship can be mutually beneficial.  I hope they stay out of the road.  On that note, let's talk about coop security.

We take a lot of care in the security of our coop.  There are no less than 9 gate latches on the entire coop complex, each with it's own carabiner to ensure it locks.  It might be overkill (I'm positive it's overkill), but we put a lot of money, love and time into the flock and it would break me if they were all killed because their coop wasn't secure enough.  The coop has undergone several renovations/additions--usually when we add to the flock and need to expand.

Yes, that's a punching bag.  It came off the tree and we just laid it there.  It helps keep critters from digging under the coop.
Here you can see the basic set up of our coop complex: the actual coop, and the fenced in pen attached to it.  We added the fence panels to the coop because we aren't always home at sundown when the girls go to sleep.  We can put them in the pen (which locks) if needed and they can stay safe and sound.  They put themselves to bed and we lock up their actual coop sleeping quarters when we get home.  It's a lifesaver (literally).  Here's what it looks like when it's locked up.

We built the doors with fencing cedar (super cheap).  The top of the pen is covered in 1/2" hardware cloth...obviously attached to the fence with zip ties.  (Any zip tie companies that want to sponsor the Boxer Farm????). 

The girls sleep inside the coop (their nesting boxes are there as well), and it's obviously always a *SITUATION* of who sleeps where!  There is plenty of room--but SOME hens take up a little more space than others...  Here's the door that locks the coop itself at night.  It is built from pallet wood (much of the coop is) and cedar.  Literally, I feel like I could build a house with pallets, cedar, zip ties and gate locks and hinges.  

Here is a closer picture of one of the expansions.  I love being super thrifty.  This expansion was built on a foundation of chairs that I pulled out of someone's trash!  I screwed them to the side and built walls out of (obviously) pallet wood and cedar.  I do love building things--I don't use plans very often, but just sort of build as I go.  This was one of my favorites.  I topped it off with curtains--keeps the air flowing, but gives them privacy.  A main concern for the girls is the Texas heat--gotta keep that coop as cool as possible during the summer.

So that's a short coop tour.  It's all built by us (or by our friends S&S).  It's super secure.  Probably ridiculously so.  I don't care.  I love the chickens and I want them safe.  Wish us luck with our new possum family--I think they'll work out fine if they realize they got a good thing going here at the Boxer Farm.


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