Now that we have the 6 posts up, we have a frame for our chicken run. Before we move forward in adding t0 the frame we are going to dig a trench along the perimeter of this run. This was an easy decision to make. All the stories I heard and people I spoke with at Coop Camp and chicken shows reinforced that protection needs to be considered in each stage of building this run.
As a boy we had an unwanted intruder that would dig underneath our large tin chicken coop and kill a couple chickens each night until we caught him in the act. That is a story for another article. If that memory didn’t solidify the need for an anti-digging measure than all the other stories I heard from chicken keeper’s accounts with predators certainly would have.
So we decided to sink the fencing in a trench and fill that same trench with blocks. If the fence I was putting in wasn’t heavy enough to keep out a digging creature that weight of the blocks should add to the difficulty for an intruder.
As I mentioned in our first article we moved in the last year and found a perimeter of blocks which had been placed in the ground. This was fortunate and saved us from having to purchase and haul these blocks from the store.
My boys and I dug the blocks up and carried them down to the chicken run.
All that was left to do was dig and place the fence and blocks down into the ground. We own a couple of shovels, but were told there is shovel specifically designed for trench digging. I purchased a trenching spade (shown below by Braxton). When we started to use it, we quickly realized it was a good tool for this job. It is narrow, 5 inches wide, and has a point on the end sharper than a regular shovel. The best part is the angle between the shovel and handle. Its built at about a 35 degree angle which creates a fulcrum and leverage for prying rocks and roots out of your digging area. This trenching spade also comes to a sharp point which cut right through the clay and ivy roots running under the ground.
So I dug along a line that ran from post to post about 10 inches deep. Next we starting placing the fencing and blocks in to the ground. At first it was slow going but with all of us working together the process sped up.
Braxton and Garrett held the fencing up, I bent the bottom of the wiring to make a “L” shape along the bottom. Then Marschall would bring one the blocks over and place it on top of the fence and firmly into the trench.
It was good work for the boys to learn to do and my back appreciated them being there to help! Other than running into a few roots, it was a smooth job and we started to see a row of blocks form that would hold that wiring firmly into the ground.
These type of blocks are formed at the edges at an angle and fit together nicely. Almost locking together when they were placed side by side. I believe most people use these type of blocks for perimeters and small walls in their landscaping.
Each post required that we work around it but the blocks also gave the post something firm next to it which I thought would be a good thing once we had the roof. Wind will certainly blow on this run and its roof in the future.
The corners slowed us down as we had to negotiate our way by the the post and turn the corner. It worked out just fine but I worked a little more in this area and placed some smaller rocks in their also. I didn’t want a gap created that would allow a smaller predator to wiggle through.
As you can see, this part that involved securing the fencing down into the ground went well. We are somewhat confident and mostly hopefully that this will keep dogs, raccoons, possums and other digging predators from getting into our chicken run.
Next article we work on stretching the wiring fencing and latching it to each post. As you can imagine, with 3 boys, they used their shovels to play as much as they used them to dig.
Thank you for following along and we will share our next step each Monday!