Okay, now where was I before my favorite little part of life interrupted.....oh, yeah...hoop run questions!
First of all, the tunnel isn't necessary. We just did it that way because if we'd just butted the run directly up against the coop Ken would have had to take out his apricot tree. Not happening! So we offset the run to avoid the tree. The very west edge of the run sits up against the southeast corner of the coop, if that makes any sense. We needed the tunnel so they could get in and out. Now, that's turned out to have a couple of benefits - it allows us to keep the pop door open all the time, giving us ventilation in the coop without drafts. It's an effective wind block because it's closed in at the sides and the top. It also adds one more layer of predator protection, even though that wasn't its purpose. Predators have no access into the coop or the run via the opening between them as it's a solid barrier.
To build one, simply build an "L" shaped box with a solid wall on the front and on one side. Screw a length of 2x4 to the side of the coop to attach the box to, and repeat that on the people door frame. Then screw a solid top down. The wall of the coop acts like the third wall, and the front into the run is left open, as is the bottom. Instant tunnel!
Ken has attached the first solid side to the strip on the side of the coop and is attaching another strip of wood to the inside of the piece of siding to attach the second wall. We just used leftover pieces of siding and scraps of wood to make it. The pop door is a doggie door we found at the Habitat Restore for $15.00 and it's closed in this picture so we could work without the chickens underfoot.
Here it's almost finished...still had to screw the top in place. You can see how he attached the last side to the door framing. It ain't purty, but it works like a charm! Short scraps of wood made anchor points to screw the siding into. By the way, I should mention that we laid a bit of hardware cloth down before we put the tunnel in so nothing would dig under it.
To make the hoop, we decided on a very scientific method of determining where to put the fence posts. I had a pocket full of medium sized rocks. I held down one edge of the cattle panel with my feet and he was on the inside holding the other end almost on the ground. He started walking. He'd say, "This tall enough?" "Um, yep, but I want it a little wider between sides." So he'd walk it another step or two. When I was happy with the height and the width, I dropped two rocks to mark where the fence posts would be on my side. Then we changed positions and repeated the sizing process. (Have I mentioned that I don't DO math? I still couldn't give you exact dimensions!) All we had to do was place the first posts - after that we just lined everything up to those. We pounded in two posts on one side and then two posts on the other side, arched the panel between them, and moved on. The tension of the panels pushing against fence posts held them in place, so we didn't secure anything until we were happy with the layout.
Notice that the cattle panels are holding themselves in place just because of the outward force keeping them between the posts. Only when we were satisfied did we start attaching them to the posts. We attached them with bits of twisted wire. We also attached the cattle panels to each other as we went along.
Then we had to do the hard part - the people door and the north side of the run. <sigh> That part caused more than one marital dispute, but now we're both happy with it. Carpentry is not our strong suit. If you give Ken an balloon, he can find a way to wire it for electricity - to code - but give either of us a hammer and we are lost. In fact (I shudder to confess) we don't even call it a "hammer." Our little grandson years ago asked Grampa for a "pound pound" to pop a roll of caps on the sidewalk. We've both called a hammer a "pound pound" ever since! So we dreaded doing that door! But we bought some lengths of pressure treated wood, and Ken cut arches that matched the curve of the cattle panel. He used several huge fence staples to secure the cattle panel to the top of the frame, a crosspiece between them, and a crosspiece at the bottom. Oh, I just KNEW that would never work - wouldn't be long before the door frame just "fell apart." I was wrong. He was right. I hate it when that happens!
Ignore the fencing in front of the door frame - that was the temporary run for the chickens, who had long before been living outside. It's always amazing to me how the built in tension in the cattle panels holds things in place. This was the first fitting of the lower crosspiece. Now there is a piece of pressure treated wood between the upright door frames, wedged tightly into place. The other parts of the frame sandwich it pretty well. It not only anchors the door, it also keeps litter inside the run.
That piece of pressure treated lumber laying there in the temporary run is the piece we wedged between the lower crosspieces.
Then he built a simple frame of scrap lumber and we screwed some old vinyl lattice we had laying around from another project for the door. Ugly, but effective. It's held up very well...no problems with the door, the door framing, or the attachment to the cattle panels - it's all as strong today as it was when we built it. Here you can also see that we used some welded wire fencing between the door frame and the edge of the run, and we did the same thing on the pop door side. It is sandwiched between the frame pieces and then wired to the top edge of the arch in the cattle panel. It was easy to cut a hole in that to give the chickens access to the tunnel and coop. Where we cut it to fit over the tunnel, we just laid the length we cut on top of the tunnel and screwed it into place with heavy, large washers and screws. Again, no issues - it's held up quite well.
Okay, the end wall. For us that's the south side. Nothing fancy here - we just used a large piece of fencing and wired it to the fenceposts pounded into the ground. At first we left it squared off, but when we enlarged the run this summer we finally trimmed it to the arch of the cattle panels. Made it easier to put the plastic over the run for winter.
The final step was easy - well, relatively easy. We bought 4' wide rolls of hardware cloth and unrolled them the length of the run. We attached them to the chicken wire covered panels by literally sewing them into place about 2 feet up. Then we folded them outward at the bottom and ran them out about 2 feet as an apron, anchoring them to the ground with landscape fabric staples. The original plan was to cover them with flat rock, but life got in the way and we didn't get around to it. Now we're glad, because the grass grew right through it and covers it completely. Ken can mow right over it, which prevents hiding places in tall grass or crevices for little four legged critters like mice and long, legless critters like snakes. At the north and south ends we did the same thing. Then we put in corners of hardware cloth overlapping where there was the natural gap. So we didn't have lot of cutting of hardware cloth and piecing it together to do.
The hardware cloth skirt and apron. We did this all the way around the coop as well, securing it with large screws and washers. The leftover piece of pressure treated wood there is only used in the winter to keep snow from blowing in under the door.
Notes - some things I wish we had or hadn't done....
....I wish we'd had the sense to cover the panels with the chicken wire BEFORE we wired them into place. Sure, it would make the cattle panels a little more unwieldy, but it sure would have been easier than holding our arms over our heads while we attached it AFTER the panels were upright. Although, come to think of it, it was pretty easy to just hold on to the roll of chicken wire on one side and pull it into place over the arches to the other side. It was all the wiring overhead that got old real quick.
....We both wish we'd used either zip ties or hog panel clips to do the attachments, rather than cutting off bits off a spool of wire and twisting them all into place. It's too hard to find and clip off all the little pokey- outies at the ends of the twisted wires, and we lost my favorite chicken to a bit of missed wire piece in the run. We thought we'd picked up any that dropped, but she found one and got it lodged in her throat.
....I wish we'd used trimmed cattle panels for the ends rather than wire fencing. The fencing is working great - no problems at all, but the cattle panels are a bit stiffer.
I think my favorite thing about this run is that it was so cotton pickin' easy to expand this summer. We just clipped the wires holding the end piece on and removed it. It stayed in one piece - fencing, chicken wire, and hardware cloth skirt and apron and we laid it to the side. Then we pounded in one more fence post on each side, arched and covered a new cattle panel, secured it, put the end back on and we were done.
The end piece laid to the side and just waiting to be put back on.
And the new addition, without the lattice panels up yet. The addition took a little over 2 hours to do, not counting putting the hardware cloth and chicken wire on the new panel.
Well, there you have it. I hope I've answered your questions and that the pictures helped. In reality it sounds more complicated than it was to do. It took us a day and a half from the time we picked up the cattle panels to the day the chickens were let out, so it wasn't bad at all. And it only took the two of us - one old man, one old, partially disabled lady - to get it done. The final touches were the lattice fence, just because we liked how it looked, and the landscape fabric covering for shade and water protection. The toughest part (besides that pesky door frame) was getting the cattle panels 100 miles from Billings to our place in the back of the pickup without them "sproinging" loose and tumbling down the road. That actually happened to my friend Lazy Gardener!