Finally, I’ve a new, portable coop for the Araucanas Audrey and Mabel. After much henhouse-hunting over the past couple of months – viewings have included the beautifully crafted collection by Flyte so Fancy and the super-eco builds by Green Frog Designs made from recycled industrial plastic waste – I followed in the footsteps of friend and fellow henkeeper Lisa Sykes and trawled the internet for a second-hand (or should that be second-wing?) one. Of course, eBay was the obvious choice – though I also signed up to my local Freecycle group and now receive countless emails about first-time buyers in Chelmsford who need a fridge and people in Colchester who have a spare 1990s-era remote control – but alas and perhaps unsurprisingly there were no complimentary coops on offer. The main criteria, apart from it being second-hand – so it was green in a sense, whatever materials it was made of – was that it should have an undercover run, so the girls have somewhere dry to shelter and their food could be kept out of the rain. Plus, the trick – as seasoned eBayers know – is to find large objects, such as chicken coops, that are in your area so you don’t have to drive hours to collect them – we instantly discounted poultry properties up in the north of Scotland and Devon, no matter how many boxes they ticked.
James began the search in our county of Essex and located a dream home for Audrey and Mabel in Rayleigh, near Southend, barely half-an-hour’s drive away. With just a couple of hours to go till the online auction ended, we placed our bid and then went about our jobs in the garden setting a timer for 30 minutes before the end-time. We hurried in, expecting a last-minute flurry, but after a few bids from the other interested parties, we were soon on our own with just seconds to go. Much whooping and excitement ensued – we even cracked open a bottle of Prosecco – it made me wonder how, if I feel this thrilled about buying a secondhand henhouse on eBay, bidding and securing a piece of art feels – such as The Scream which sold at a real auction this week.
We picked it up – during the only gap in the rain last Sunday – and now, after a couple of simple repair jobs, I’m hoping to paint it a pretty lavender colour this weekend if there’s a spot of dry weather. Then – after it’s dried and aired – Audrey and Mabel can move into their new dwelling. Anyone else doing any henhouse DIY this Bank Holiday?