5 Eagles Peak Mobile Hen Hotel aka. "Henestoga Wagon"

I've been wanting to get back into chickens doing a pastured-poultry scheme (See "Pastured Poultry" by Joel Salatin) and finally got about a three acre pasture carved out south (up the hill) of the house and barn. Found an old 4 wheel farm wagon up near Port Hill, just south of the Canadian border on Idaho 1. Hauled it home and here's the progress so far. Still to do -- the retractable fence :-) This thing is going to be a sight!

Not surprisingly I've been asked "WTF do you want a chicken coop on wheels for ??" A reasonable question. Besides my lifelong commitment to doing things in the most idiosyncratic and difficult way possible, there actually are plausible excuses for this exercise.

  1. Animals that eat plants (chickens are relentlessly omnivorous) and have the opportunity to graze are tastier when you eat them;
  2. The eggs laid by chickens that have fresh pasture have day-glo orange yolks from the beta-carotene, taste great, and stand up like proud little soldiers when you drop them in the frying pan;
  3. All omega-3 fatty acids (the good stuff) are produced by plants. Animals that eat green plants have far more omega-3's in their meat than those raised on grain;
  4. Left to their own devices chickens will reduce any green stuff within their range to dirt in short order, so I will be moving the Henestoga pretty regularly;
  5. I like it (a not insignificant consideration);
So that's the why. The how is that there will be a retractable fence that will keep the chickens in and the coyotes out. Hopefully. Given the size of the thing I'll have to use the tractor to move it, so any connections for biodiesel will be appreciated. :-)

Here's some references:

Pastured Poultry is really a How-To book, so not of much interest to a city dweller, but if you're interesed in food issues I urge you to read the Michael Pollan books and watch the documentaries. Pollan is a good writer, and his stuff is not histrionic or preachy. Interestingly, I read and got excited by "Pastured Poultry" over ten years ago, and just realized when I picked it up recently to look at his designs that the author was the same Joel Salatin featured in "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Food, Inc.".

Start with old farm wagon

strip down to the bare metal

figure out some way to stabilize a rocker arm

Bolt on new 4x6 x 16' support beams

high enough so the wheel can turn

begin decking

decking completed

John and Cameo show up to help frame it

It's really weird framing something where plumb and level have no meaning!

Add crossmember to prevent sagging

Born to frame


first gambrel truss

it goes fast when the trusses are all built


Nice day to build a chicken coop

Cuddly crew :-)

Henestoga gets a lid

gotta have a door

Front end window framed

Easements for Ingress, Egress and Utilities now in place

March 31, 2010 the Babies arrive !
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April 13, 2010 the Babies get a bigger pad
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April 30, 2010 Henestoga Wings Functional
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Here are pictures of Henestoga getting launched, and the lucky chicks in their new hotel !