Mail Call July/August 2015: A Chicken Coop in the Desert, Planting Trees, Grain Bin Ideas and More

Readers share their memories and insights about chicken coops, planting trees, a grain bin gazebo and more.

| July/August 2015

Desert Chickens 

I built my henhouse here in southwest New Mexico out of leftover siding and shingles from my home.

It was necessary to enclose it in an aviary, due to the many predators here in the desert like foxes, bobcats, hawks, great horned owls and more. I used a chain-link dog run, dug it a foot into the ground, and covered it in leftover chicken wire from a previous project. 

Inside the henhouse, the perch is made from a clothes closet pole. We cut windows in front and vents in back then covered them with screening I saved when my home windows were replaced. I also cut a “chicken door” out back using old hinges and a hook and eye to hold it open during the day. A bolt lock closes them in safe at night. I fenced in a large area of natural desert for them to forage in during the day.

To “prettify” my henhouse, I cut up an old metal wall hanging and used it as flowers in the flower box beneath the window and for decoration on the front door, after painting the exterior with leftover paint from my home. 

Here in the desert, our climate is very dry, and after clearing a space to erect the henhouse, I was left with pure dry dust. I also need natural shade cover for cooling. Having left one mesquite tree at the site, I transplanted many “volunteers” from trees around my property, more mesquite, desert willows and chaste trees. To hold the dry soil down and prevent dust devils in this very windy environment, I laid out pathways of old carpet, saved from when I had the floors of my home refinished. I then covered them over, wheelbarrel by wheelbarrel full of stones, pebbles and rocks gathered from around the property.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!