Two years ago I was in a course that required “service hours.” There are numerous volunteer opportunities in Missoula and I happened upon an interesting project at the UM FLAT. The FLAT was constructing a predator-secure habitat for their free-range chickens. The project required volunteers who could help build the new chicken run.
As a student, I was accustomed to cerebral academic pursuits. Hands-on work was a welcome change of pace. Furthermore, chicken run design is surprisingly interesting. For example, chicken wire is secured by pinning down the bottom edge with bricks. Next, that portion is buried beneath a few inches of soil. These steps are intended to keep predators out, ensuring a longer life for the resident chickens.
Two years later, I am an intern at the FLAT. Another opportunity to assist in upgrading the chicken’s habitat arose. This time the chickens required a new coop, which protects them from Missoula’s harsh winters.
Several FLAT residents, interns, and generous volunteers prefabricated the new chicken coop at Home ReSource. The team at Home ReSource did the necessary measurements and cuts, but residents and interns joined from there. The chicken coop was framed, the base and roof were constructed, insulation was installed and plywood walls were secured to the frame. The chicken coop is made of reused materials, in keeping with the FLAT’s mission.
The chicken coop was then moved, in pieces, to the FLAT. Once there, the team converged and assembled the chickens’ new home. The first step is leveling and securing the base. The walls are then put in place, followed by the roof. Other details follow: shingling the roof, siding the chicken coop and hanging the doors. The work was extremely fulfilling and I hope the chickens are content in there new home.
Keith Rongstad, FLAT Intern