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Just a little excitement
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - Well, we had a little excitement around here last week, Wednesday afternoon it was. The chicken coop blew over….again. It blew, or had blown?, over once last summer too but in the other direction. I’m gaining a new appreciation for the words windward and leeward and the difference between a gentle breeze, a gust, and a gale.

It’s the coop’s own darn fault.  It’s not built for a windy site. It’s two feet wide, 10 feet long, and eight feet high. It looks kinda like a billboard.  Catches a lot of wind. It was repurposed from a kid’s play structure that included platforms, ladders, swings, a slide, etc. And it’s a heavy thing, the frame consisting of cedar 4x4’s and resting on 4x6 treated runner beams. Still, not heavy enough for a power show of air movement.

You’d expect an occasional blow-down on a windy, exposed ridge. But there we were last Wednesday, down in the valley, looking at a prostrate poultry pad. Not sure yet whether the chickens were in the coop at the time; they spend their days free-ranging around the place. They did seem quite shook up and disoriented when they surveyed the damage. And they really ‘bawked’ when it was time to get into the coop that night, juxtapositioned as it was, still on its side. I should mention that our flock consists of two chickens, which is, I believe, the minimum number for a flock.

The next morning, our good neighbor Rob Babb came over with his tractor and easily righted the roost with only one board getting accidentally speared by a bale fork in the process. After he left, I realized I had wanted to take a ‘before’ picture after the storm.  I considered having Rob come back and knock it down again and I’m sure he would have.  He’s just that kinda guy.  But I decided to proceed with the coop re-boot instead, given the prevailing cold and windy conditions.

There wasn’t much to fix.  Replace that broken board, reattach the entry ramp, re-bed the roost area, and re-install a glass pot-lid window that had fallen out.  The coop has several such round windows that serve as poultry portholes.

You know how they say you can find anything on the Internet? Not so. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find any plans or examples of chicken coop outriggers. 

Oh, I could fashion some stylish flying buttresses such as are found on your big cathedrals of course, but that might raise my taxes. Have to mow around them all summer, too. 

Guy-wires attached to soil anchors, same problem with the mowing although the assessor might not notice them. 

I’m leaning towars some Polynesian-style canoe outriggers that would attach perpendicularly to the runner beams.  I know, I know, the outriggers usually go parallel to the ‘craft,’ but I’m trying to keep this simple. I want an effective and elegant solution here.