I’ve already talked about the most important piece of equipment a backyard chicken owner should have (a wire dog crate.) Today I’m going to talk about the second most important piece of equipment.
No, not waters and feeders after all, even Cinderella fed her chickens by sprinkling food on the ground. It is, instead, a Staple gun.
That’s right. If you have an enclosed hen house it probably has a ton of chicken wire on it (see above photo.)
Our hen house is made of wood. Wood contains water. That means that during our cold NH winters, that wood is contracting with the cold and then expanding in the heat. Add to that frozen wood chips that build up over the winter at the base of the coop and what you get is chicken wire that is either pushed out or has pulled away from the rotten wood.
And, as any Star Trek fan knows, it only takes one breech in the hull for there to be trouble.
When I teach my chicken classes, I tell people to do a daily inspection of the hen house perimeter. If any critter had tried to dig into your coop, you should have a bucket of gravel ready to fill any holes in with pebbles. Digging in dirt is quite easy, digging through rocks? Not so.
While you are doing this inspection you should also look for any chicken wire that has pulled away from your hen house. Sometimes it happens for the aforementioned swelling and rotting of wood, and sometimes it happens because a large, strong, predator tried to have a play date with your birds during the night. An adult raccoon can tear off chicken wire with one swipe (which further hammers home the point that at night all of your birds should be locked up in a secure coop.)
No reason to panic if one did, though, just get your trusty staple gun and restaple that wire.
“You’d be surprised,” said Tom Quigley, our coop builder, “how many people call me to fix the wire on their coop. I tell them that if they want to pay for the 2 hours worth of gas for me to get to them and back, and then for my time, I’d be glad to help them. But instead, I tell them, get a staple gun and use it.”
Tom suggests that you buy the “15 dollar” gun at Home Depot and not the “35” dollar staple gun. “My 15 dollar gun keeps on going but that other one?”, he said, “jams all the time.”
While you’re getting your staple gun, make sure that you have an extra box of staples to go with it. Because as we all know, a staple gun without staples is like an umbrella with holes, it’s just not something that’s going to help you when you really need it.