Over this last winter here in the UK we were required by law to keep our lovely chickens either indoors or in fully netted enclosures due to Avian Influenza Restrictions. We bought three 3m x 6m polytunnel frames that we connected up and covered with bird netting. It was much less space than they would normally have free ranging in their field, but still a large space for the the few chickens we have in winter.
Once the restrictions were lifted in Spring that left us with a question of what we could do with the cheap polytunnel frames. We considered using them as polytunnels but we don’t really have a need for them, What we did need was a new fruit cage for our currants which had outgrown their existing protective frames.
This is what we built!
Trust me it was a LOT of hard work. We had to remove turf, dig the area over, condition the soil, transplant some of the fruit bushes and that was in between dodging snow showers, spells of high winds and very cold temperatures.
The easy part was putting the frame up once the chickens could legally free range again!
It was well worth the effort as we now have a bumper crop of red currants. We’ve just harvested more red currants than we’ve ever had from the plants. Not one single currant was lost to wild birds. Many a sparrow has tried to get into the cheap fruit cage and none of them have succeeded. Yes it cost money to buy but it was SOOOOOO much cheaper than a specialist fruit cage.
We are just trying to make use of something that we had to buy to protect our chickens over this last winter which otherwise would have no use during summer. If the restrictions to the chickens are reinstated this winter there’s no fruit to protect so we can lift the frame off and swap it back as a chicken enclosure….it always has a use.
An extra bonus was that part of the area had previously been used to grow some of our potatoes and anyone who has ever grown potatoes knows, you can never lift all of them when they are harvested. As a result you get “rogue” plants appearing for years, or in this case I call them my “bonus” potatoes. They tasted amazing cooked as soon as I dug them up. I suspect I’ll get more “bonus” potatoes next year (fingers crossed).
If you’d like to see how we planned and constructed the fruit cage reusing what we had here on the smallholding we filmed the process over the weeks that it took to prepare the site and move the frame.