The outdoor run that my flock uses is more often than not in full sun. From the time the sun comes up over the side field until about 1 pm, their run is in direct sunlight. I have tried various things to provide them a shady spot during these hours and despite appearances, I have mostly resorted to hanging a couple old blankets on one of the fence lines. It works and it is easy.
The other problem that I was having concerned the dust bath swimming pool. One of the little man's plastic pools sprung a leek and I decided to use it in the chicken run. There is a lot of dirt in that run (the grass only lasting about three days after we introduced out first chickens into it), and the ladies have created areas of shallow holes to get some dirt under their feathers. But I wanted something that I could control. I wanted to be able to mix in a little DT earth if I felt mites were a problem. And I wanted this area to remain dry during rain storms. The pool of sand would turn into a muddy mess at the first shower and then it was no good to anyone.
I decided to create a sort of dust bath tent using some left over fencing, some wooden stakes, zip ties and an old tarp. I hammered in 6 stakes in two lines on either side of the pool. then I placed a curved section of leftover metal fencing near the tops of the stakes and used the zip ties to secure the fencing to the stakes. This gave me the framework for the tarp. I used more zip ties to secure the tarp creating a 4' high hoop house with no ends. The sand is kept dry and the metal fencing is sturdy enough to hold up to the heavy rains and winds.
The added bonus is that it provides another shady area during the morning hours.
As always, there is room for improvement. I am not sure if this will hold up to the snow this winter so I may have to go back to the drawing board in the spring. I would like to create a permanent structure - something with the roof and maybe two sides - that would serve as a dry place for the dust bath and a shady area during the summer months. A permanent structure could be left out all year round and the roof would be made from metal or a durable corrugated plastic, slanted to allow for run-off. The sides would be made from the same material as the roof for added stability.
Something else for the to-do list.
Ever notice how completing one farm project brings to light at least three more projects?