UGH! Rain and the art of keeping the flock dry

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MotherJean, May 28, 2010.

  1. MotherJean

    MotherJean Songster

    The Pacific Northwest is caught in a deluge of rain with no signs of letting up for the extended 5 day forecast [​IMG] Typical Memorial Day weekend in this part of the country [​IMG] I have a sunken patio with 4" of standing water! I also have a coop sitting on a raised platform that, in spite of what I thought was an extensive caulking job, is leaching rainwater under the walls and into the coop. Litter was sodden when I went out to feed/water the girls. It took me over an hour in the driving rain to tarp the whole structure, muck out the litter, and set up a fan to dry out the floor. Won't turn the gals out into the run because it's not covered yet. Figured I had all summer to accomplish that [​IMG] Can't allow the girls to go get soaked to the bone and then not even have a dry coop to retreat to so they can dry out. I am kicking myself for not putting a little more thought into my coop/run plan in order to avoid these problems and thought I'd share my learning experience with others in the process of building. The lesson is this: hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Maybe it's because we build these things in the spring and summer when the weather is generally decent, we're not thinking about our set-up's suitability for fall and winter rains, snow, and freezing weather. And, we should because weather can endanger the flock every bit as bad as a predator. For instance, if I let my girls walk around in damp litter (and, thus, damp poo) I'd probably end up fighting cocci, botulism from moldy feed, fungus infections, and God only knows what else.

    And, another thing. I made sure my girls had more than the 4 and 10 sq. feet per bird in the coop and run. But, now that I'm faced with keeping them confined to the coop for the next 5 days, it looks bloody crowded in there - and my girls aren't even full grown yet. How could I possibly expect them to be comfortable in there if I had to keep them inside for the whole month of December??! Geez, what was I thinking?

    I guess you all know that the minute the rain stops, I'll be outside rebuilding. Nobody in their right mind wants to do these construction projects twice. I guess the old saying is to plan and plan to fail [​IMG]
  2. calista

    calista Songster

    Jan 27, 2010
    I hear ya, Mother! (Getting soaked down here in the Centralia area.)

    For a temporary reprieve, I'd suggest getting a big cheapo tent from the thrift store or off CL, setting it up in your yard with rain fly attached, throwing in some dry bedding and some branches to roost on, and using that for the duration. You can always toss it if it gets too grungy. After all, if a rain-proof tent is supposed to keep CAMPERS dry, why not chickens, too???

    The only other thing that came to mind was a new business idea of tiny umbrellas or miniature yellow chicken ponchos, but... [​IMG]

  3. HelenB

    HelenB In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2010
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Hi Mama Jean!

    We are being soaked here in Poulsbo, too. My babies are growing out of their dog crate, my big girls have a nice, "new", theoretically dry tractor to move into, so I can shuffle the babies into the bigger tractor. I got the new tractor hosed out yesterday, and left the lid open while waiting for dryer weather...... [​IMG] I'm currently trying to figure out a way I can get it dry enough in there soon, like real soon, before my 8 babies start going totally bananas. Meanwhile there's a fence to build, a coop to design and build, and all I really wanna do is take a nap!

  4. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    ...and here we are down here in south central Alabama praying for rain. The little bit of corn planted here-abouts is looking ashy with a touch of curling...getting a bit dusty...would love to have some of ya'll's rain...Memorial Day or not.

    Have a wonderful weekend,
  5. Ms.FuzzyButts

    Ms.FuzzyButts Songster

    Sep 5, 2009
    North Alabama
    It's raining here too. And my coop leaks like nobody's business. But it is a dirt floor so it gets very muddy. My chickens stand out in the rain, despite the fact that an 8x10 section of the coop where their food and water is located, is on higher, drier ground that doesn't leak. They would much rather look like wet vultures than hang out in the dry area. Silly chickens!!
  6. drunkdog

    drunkdog Songster

    May 15, 2010
    Ed my tomatoes would love to ship some of our rain your way brother they are drowning.....Momma if it helps your motivation levels I am outside in this rain trying to build our coop (disclaimer this post is during my much needed drying and coffee break [​IMG]
  7. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Songster

    Jun 7, 2008
    Scappoose Oregon
    The only one who likes this wet weather is my ducks and sometimes even they seem tired of it. Thankfully my run is sloped so the water runs off at least where the ducks haven't made mud holes to splash in.

    My coop is water tight, but with everyone trooping in and out the straw gets pretty wet.

    I used ot have the run semi tarped but we've had so many mini wind storms this spring I gave up after the 3rd one was shhredded.

    I'm rearranging where the ducks go at night so I need to build a rain proof cover for an outside feeder. That will be a challenge.
  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I have one brooder with a floor that I figure will always leak, everything else is a dirt floor tractor that rain just runs into. Luckily, we have about 13 semi-truck loads of gravel in the drive and around the house that is refreshed every 20 years or so, so drainage is ok. I just gave up keeping them dry, actually, never tried! What's the point, they just go walk out into the rain in the end anyways when you let them out at sun up to free range. Broody hens even take their chicks out when it's 42F and raining! Silly things.

    You're not alone - from 13 years of soppy wet nw chickens.
  9. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    I thought it was supposed to get better tomorrow and actually be 70 in Sunday. Do you have pics of your coop? Might have a suggestion.
  10. MotherJean

    MotherJean Songster

    Hey neighbors! Thanks for allowing me to vent. Misery loves company and it brightened my day to hear from fellow weather sufferers [​IMG]

    I like the idea of the cheapo tent, Calista, but like Columbiacritter noted, the winds come up to shred tarps and send tents flying into the next county. I'm really lovin' the idea of the tiny umbrellas and yellow chicken ponchos, though [​IMG]

    I feel for ya, Drunkdog. I was soaked to the skin after a hour of mucking out - and cold. Man, that was a cold rain today! I was in such a foul mood. You know, it's just not seemly for an old dame to be swearing like a trucker [​IMG] As soon as the girls were on dry litter and under cover, I insisted that the old fella drive me and my sister 18 miles across the flats to go rag-picking at the thrift shops and recycle stores. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping [​IMG] The rain finally let up as we were driving home around 7 pm so I turned the girls out into the run to stretch. Sweet Thang was so happy, she flew the entire length of the run [​IMG] The girls didn't stay out long - it was starting to get dark - but at least they got a little break.

    Thanks so much for the offer Dogfish. You're so darn clever with your building ideas. Really admire your creativity. I think what I'm going to do is caulk hell out of everything again just as soon as the weather drys out for 48 hours. Then I think I'm going to build a whole new coop about twice the size of what I have now (8'x8') to replace the little playhouse. I have access to a ton of pallets at the old fella's workplace. Some are 12' 4x4's and 2x4's, so I'll only need to pony up for plywood and some windows from the ReStore. The current coop won't go to waste. I'll make some waterproofing modifications and set it up for use as an isolation ward (just in case) and next spring I'll brood chicks in there instead of in the house. My birthday is just around the corner so my birthday present from DH and sons (God bless 'em) is a roof on the run for the girls.

    Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend in spite of the weather.

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