Under the Dome

Although the chicken coop was great, we wanted to girls to have some freedom so I was letting them out of the coop during the day. To start with this was fine, they didn’t wander far, but we don’t have a properly enclosed garden and after a few weeks they became more adventurous and decided they liked visiting the neighbour’s garden. That wasn’t too much of a worry, the neighbours didn’t seem to mind, but our concern was that they were walking along the roadside. We decided they needed a bigger enclosed area so they had more room to move about in when we weren’t at home to keep an eye on them.

We didn’t want an ugly looking run in the garden, and so Mr Rambles decided he would take up the challenge of building a geodesic dome, with the idea it would look like a garden feature as well as a practical home for the chooks. I trusted him with the design and was on hand to help with the labour. It was difficult to find the right materials, but we ended up using conduit piping.

After several days of cutting the right lengths and squashing the ends of each piece to make it possible to screw together (and acquiring many blisters on our hands) we were ready to start constructing.

The chickens were very interested in the proceedings and enjoyed perching on the dome from the beginning. It wasn’t easy and we weren’t too sure it was going to hold together, but it did. It looked fantastic. Wow, thanks Mr Rambles.

Now all it needed was some covering to stop the chickens getting out, and wild birds and other animals from getting in. After another trip to the local hardware store we came home with a netting which claimed would keep birds from getting through. I think it is designed for protecting edible plants from birds (veggie patches, fruit trees, grapevines etc.). Being an unusual shape it was tricky to cover the dome but we finally managed it, finishing parts off with a needle and thread to bring the seams together. Fantastic!

We let the chickens out of their coop and into the dome. We happily left them and went out. When we returned home they were happily free ranging in the garden, outside the dome!! I picked them up and put them back inside, turned around and they were back out again. A friend who was with us was in hysterics as I desperately searched around the bottom of the dome to find where I hadn’t sealed it properly, only I hadn’t noticed where they had pecked an enormous hole in the netting which they were happily jumping through! And so we learnt what ‘chicken wire’ is for. We purchased a roll and covered the bottom half of the dome with it. Job done.

It was a labour of love but well worth it. We have had so many positive and admiring comments from friends and neighbours, even inspiring some of them to get chickens and build a dome themselves. Not sure if anyone else has yet, but we will be happy to give them advice and help them learn from our mistakes.

The chickens are now happy in the dome, we do still let them out for forages in the garden when we are around to watch them, but in the dome they have space. They have room to flap their wings about, and enjoy sitting on and jumping off the coop. They also have a place for dust baths and an old bench to perch on. Lucky chooks.

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