Chickens for an Angry Bird
My hubby and I are not what anyone might call outdoorsy folks. We like it out there, but don't necessarily bring vast knowledge to the land, if you will. So, funny situation we have found ourselves in since this summer when we purchased a chunk of land in the Los Gatos mountains of California. Since moving from the flats, we have quickly come to distinguish the cedars from the redwoods, gopher snakes from the rattlers and soon, it seems, Ameraucana from Aracauna.

I didn't know I ever wanted to live in the mountains, and I didn't know I ever wanted chickens.But suddenly, both of these are now true about me.

Lucky for me, I have a Dad with a huge passion for building things and an even greater ability not to see any obstacles in his way. After his first visit just before Thanksgiving (during which he gutted our garage, made workbenches, shelving and storage options galore) he returned before Christmas with a renewed zeal for raising a roof for our future hens.

I hear you learn a lot about yourself in raising chickens. I would venture to say, you learn at least as much about yourself in the kind of coop you craft

If getting chickens were just up to me, I might be buying eggs at Trader Joe's well into my old age. If it were up to my husband, we'd have found a dandy coop on over a weekend and thrown the chickens in. But, since we left it up to my Dad, in the space of 2 weeks he built a royal palace for our ladies.

The following is our journey from dirt to gables. The black print is the touchy feeley narrative from me, BigCyg and the red is FloridaGramps, for those of you who need to know what really happened out there at the "job site", as we have affectionately come to call it.

This 8x10 coop and attached 10x16 A-frame run is a family project, start to finish in 2 weeks, no plans and cost approximately $2500 in material. All screws, no nails, except for roof shingles

The foundation consists of a 2x6 frame sitting on solid 8x16x4 concrete blocks that were first levelled on a 6 inch gravel base. Floor joists are 12 inches on center and the floor is 3/4 tongue and groove plwood.

The coop is stick built with 2x4 studs 16 inches on center

We built the roof using pre built roof trusses that we built ourselves. We decided on a 6 inch rise per 12 linear inches of roof run. We laid out that pattern on the coop deck before building the walls and screwed the first set of roof rafters to that deck to be used as a pattern for 7 additional trusses

We built the exterior nesting boxes as follows. Built 2 rectangualr frames 89x15 with 2x4s and screwed them to side wall of shed slightly above floor level on roost side of coop. Sheathed 3 sides of box w L10-ll cut to 22 inch width. The box top consists of 2 lids 47x22 also made from L10-11 and hinged to side of coop........added notched braces to keep little fingers safe while gathering eggs

The window is 30x36 with a decorative window box made from 1x8 that contains a 30 inch plastic planter. The shutters are functional and sit in grooves made from 1x4 and 1x2 with a half inch shim. When the wind roars which is seldom, we can easily close these shutters.

Roofing is asphalt shingle purchased at Home Depot. First we decked the roof with half inch OSB which we then coverered w 15# felt. We then added drip edge on all 4 sides and followed the directions on shingle package

We built an 10x16 A-frame run with 2x4's as follows. We ballparked the desired angles by trial and error method.........when we had a pattern that looked good to us, we screwed doubled 2x4s to coop wall leaving an inch and a half gap at apex for 2x4 ridge pole. We made gussets from a 2x8 to support that ridge pole which is (2) 16 foot long 2x4s on edge. We also used 1/2 inch plywood scraps for gussets to secure the doubled 16 foot ridge 2x4s to each other. We gang sawed notches using a circular saw in all A-frame side members at their mid point and then chiselled out the wood remnants. We then inserted 16 foot 2x4s into precut notches in each A-frame member. The A-frames were positioned 48 inches on center to facilitate attaching 2x4 welded wire fencing vertically between A-frames. The wire fencing is held in place temporarily w screws and fender washers and then permamanently attached w 7 foot long firring strips 1 1/2 inches wide. The A-frames sit atop a run foundation made from 8 foot 4x6s sitting in a bed of gravel. As a final step we cut 2x4s to fit between the A-frame trusses and lagged these into the 4x6 foundation w 3 inch galvanized lag bolts

The roosts are 2x4 on edge. Top roost is 4 feet off the floor. We made a rectangular frame 40 x 36 using 2x4s and screwed it to wall at 48 inch height and then added a vertical support to ceiling rafter using a 2x2. This rectangular top has 2 roosting bars........2x4 w thin edge up.......12 inches apart. The ladder is also 2x4 roosts thin edge up 12 inches apart........hinged to rectangualr top roost to facilitate clean up. We are adding 3 poop trays using 29x48 sheets of pressure treated 1/2 inch plywood with a 2x4 frame which we will fill with sand to make it easy to clean and maintain as has been suggested by many BYC members

I insisted on a dutch door and my dad made it as follows. Built a door opening that is 79x36. Cut a piece of L10-11 to 78x35 1/2. Attached 1x4 pre painted trim. Cut in half w a circular saw insuring that bottom half is 6 inches taller than top half of door. Attached HW and hung door. Lesson learned........attach HW to door and test fit to coop before cutting door in half.....the 2 door halves will swing much easier as a single unit when connected with barrel bolts