Ever since we found out we'd be moving, we've been thinking about how to move the chicken coop. In fact, Jeremy designed and built the coop with the idea that we might have to move it someday. That's not to say that it's light and can be moved easily - more that it can be moved without necessarily falling to pieces.
The final days of preparation arrived last week. Jeremy rented some pallet jacks, stacked some pallets under the coop, and lifted the coop up into the air.
He hauled the concrete piers down to the new house, dug a trench, and placed the piers.
We were set and just needed volunteers to help us haul the thing out. Sunday dawned wet and cold - the first wet cold day in weeks! I suppose it made our work easier in the end though.
So about 2:00 Terry, Joseph, and Debra came by. Joseph took charge and got us moving. Pallet jacks can turn a pretty tight circle, but there was a coop sticking off the pallets in several feet each way. There was also a fence and pile of dirt to navigate around. As we started pushing on the coop there were some ominous cracking and creaking sounds which turned out to be the plywood we were rolling across. We had to lay down plywood over the ground because the pallet jack wheels would just sink into the dirt (which did happen a time or two).
As we rolled clear of the first piece of plywood (5/8 - 3/4" thick!) the wheels landed on a piece of particle board and punched straight through! We had to jack up the jack and push the coop back into place. We got some more plywood in place and were finally able to move the coop out of its birthplace, across the sidewalk, over the top of our garden, and into the yard!
I think about that time, one of our neighbors, John, came home and I invited him to come help. He came right over! We kept pushing the coop across the yard and every time we cleared some plywood someone ran the wood to the front of the queue. After much planning (and really only some measuring) we had decided to take apart the back fence and push the coop through there. It fit perfectly! With barely an inch to spare between the stacks of limestone pavers on the left and the fence and blackberry vines on the right. But we pushed it through and made it to alley where we could give up the plywood and roll on smooth asphalt. (That's when neighbor Greg joined us! His wife Mina came along for a bit, but the whole thing made her nervous so she went back home!)
(thanks to Adam for filming this one!)
As you can see, it was no problem moving down the road. We did have to push/pull and balance the coop as we went but this was probably the easiest part of the move. What Jeremy and I were dreading was incline up to our yard. It would have been ideal to take the chicken coop down the alley and in through the back, but we have this lovely 7 foot high fence that is relatively new and really secured in place. We didn't want to cut it down - so over the sidewalk, up the retaining wall, and through the front yard it had to be!
As soon as we neared the new house, our neighbor Peter came out and Greg's dad, Bruce (who lives down the street), came over. A number of other neighbors came out to watch as well. As we began to build our ramp up to the yard, a few people had doubts about the whole ramp business. We decided to try carrying the coop. We all got around the coop, got in position, counted to three, and lifted the coop - for about two seconds before easing it back down! It was way, way too heavy to carry. So - back to the ramp idea.
We had found a futon frame in the alley last fall (thanks Elise!) and that worked perfectly. We put the frame pieces into position and supported those with blocks from the retaining wall and bits of wood, then we put the plywood over the top of the whole thing. Then, we simply rolled the coop up the ramp! And it worked beautifully.
Once the coop was up in the yard we continued bringing pieces of plywood forward and kept pushing on. We had to flatten all of our tulips under the plywood - but they came back up nearly unscathed.
The next tricky part was getting the coop between the side of the house and the stand of birch trees. We had measured this (somewhat) and thought we had clearance, but, as you can see, there wasn't quite enough clearance. We were several inches short. When talk of cutting down that beautiful tree started, a couple of us started thinking hard. We had had to pull back several branches of the cherry tree when we were going past that - why not a whole tree? So Joseph tossed a rope up as high as he could get, tied it around himself, leaned back, and we had all the clearance we needed!
Sorry I don't have photos of that - but of course all hands were needed for these tricky parts.
We finally got the coop to the back yard and with a bit more maneuvering lowered it into place.
The coop survived the move remarkably well. We did lose some boards from the run part - but more because people lifted on those parts or they got caught by bushes and trees on the way. It's all put back together now and Jeremy will be putting the finishing touches on this week. Then the chickens move in on Friday!
Huge thank you's to Joseph, Debra, Terry, John, Greg, Peter, Bruce, Wendy, Adam, and to the various neighbors who dropped by to see the action, and even to the other Wendy who got here just in time to see the coop lowered to its final resting spot. We couldn't have done it without you all! And, as I think these folks will agree, we couldn't have done it without Someone Else who was surely watching out for this whole crazy adventure.