Friday, July 7, 2017

Mr. Darcy's chicken coop

After our cat Mr. Darcy was attacked by coyotes, I wanted to let him sit outside in the evenings without being able to wander. We nailed chicken wire to three sides of the back porch and built a door covered with chicken wire.

Mr. Darcy's cage from the inside, with the door held shut by a wooden slot and a plant pot.

The wood frame supporting the chicken wire hadn't been painted until this week. John does his magic.

The removable door leans against the apple tree, waiting for its next coat of paint.

John in full painting regalia; he's used these coveralls for painting since we bought the house in the mid-1970s.

When we first nailed up the chicken wire on our back porch in 2013, it was just an experiment. A halfway place for Mr. Darcy – then recovering from a coyote attack -- where he could be outside, but still safe from the hazards of the great outdoors. Amazingly, the experiment worked.

Four years later, our primitive contraption – wire attached to wood railings partway up the porch and a removable wood-and-wire door held in place by a wooden slot and a plant pot – is still working. Mr. Darcy sits out there most evenings, sniffing and staring, after he’s been lured in for the night to avoid further coyote mishaps.

While I’m just happy with anything that keeps my cat safe, the unpainted wood was getting ratty after four years, and John has never liked the chicken wire. It looks, he says, “like a chicken coop.” We contemplated nicer-looking wire. Or wood latticework. Maybe hinges on the door so it would swing instead of having to be lifted in and out.

John was painting the back porch this week, so if ever, this was the time for a giant leap forward. But. The chicken wire is lightweight and see-through, while lattice would be heavy and block the view. And with a porch as old as ours, who knows what problems a hinged door might cause?

We solved our dilemma the way we usually handle household-improvement issues -- with minimal intervention. A coat of white paint can work wonders, we discovered. The ratty wood disappears when it’s the same colour as the rest of the porch, and everything is so fresh and white that you hardly notice the chicken wire at all.

An experiment that works is a beautiful thing; why mess with it?

As usual, we chose the simplest solution possible to improve the look of our cat cage: a can of white paint. 

Another shot of John at work. He's painting the rail that supports the wire three-quarters of the way up the side of the porch. 

Painting the door in the shade of the hedge and the apple tree.

The wooden slot the removable door fits into when Mr. Darcy is in for the night.

On the other side, a plant pot to keep the door closed. So far, it's worked fine. 

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a perfect solution. I don't think Mr. Darcy would like too many changes....