A New Home for the Guineas

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Quinn
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About a week ago I finally finished my guinea shelter, and within a few days had them all happily relocated there – or so I thought. (Watch for my post on guineas problems!) In any case, I thought I’d share my creation at this point, since it felt like quite an accomplishment.

When I bought the place I had inherited a chain-link enclosure, up the hill behind the house, which people said was probably used as a puppy pen. About 12 feet long, 7 feet wide and maybe 5 feet 9 inches tall, it had an open top and was reinforced with rat wire around the bottom. Though the rat wire was in dilapidated condition, I saw this structure right away as a possible shelter for guineas or chickens, with a few modifications.

First I found a big branch and a couple of small ones to use as perches, inserting them through the chain link, and wired them to it so they wouldn’t shift. I then covered the top with 4-foot strips of 2-inch chicken wire, wiring the strips together as I went along. I also wired the edges to the chain link, making them as tight as I could.

Then I covered the south end with clear plastic, thinking this would help with heat retention in the winter. It only comes down a few feet from the top, so I plan to add another strip before winter, but I think for now it’s better to have it open and airy. To cover the remainder, I used a 10-by-15 woven plastic tarp, tying it to the chain link with twine. I knew this type of tarp wouldn’t be very durable but thought I’d give it a try since it would be so much easier to work with than a heavier one. I was able to throw it over the top and arrange it by myself without getting on a ladder, which was a big plus!

Guess what I used to secure the clear plastic to the chain link, and also to the tarp in places – basting pins! Those are the giant safety pins that are used in quilting and other kinds of needlework. I didn’t know what they were called until I ran across them in a craft store, after searching unsuccessfully in other places. I’ve used them a lot for things like fastening plastic netting around garden beds (more on that later). I wonder if anyone else uses them in the garden?

I also pinned the corners together with the basting pins, then taped them over that with duct tape. The whole thing is very cobbled together, and wouldn’t win any prizes for aesthetics, but it works, more or less. When I stepped into my finished creation I thought, “You know, I could almost live in here myself!” OK, that’s an exaggeration, but you have to understand that I’ve never built any sort of shelter before, so for me this was a big deal. And after all the nights lying in bed trying to visualize how I was going to do this, it was such a relief to have it done!

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