This article will be updated as the coop progresses. Check back to see what's new.
In the beginning:
My dreams of having chickens in my life again became very real when a friend of mine decided he didn't want his two hens anymore.
They were given to me, along with a small prefab coop, and I was less than prepared.
I had daydreamed about building a coop. I've been following a group of people in their journey to heritage seed saving and sharing, organic, highly nutritious food, and being relatively self sufficient. Sharing what they have learned and teaching others.
This organization keeps several groups of chickens and what I saw of how they manage their flock, no industrial grains or feed, I was inspired.
Their gardens feed the chickens, the chickens feed them eggs and meat, and the deep litter composting away in the base of the coop gave plenty of compost for the gardens, as well as entertainment and nutritious goodies like worms and grubs.
With this model in mind, I designed a coop and run to make the most of the position and surrounding area.
My yard is not very big. Its a nice sized yard. My plans will be engulfing the majority of this yard, with a chicken coop, garden beds, orchard and greenhouse.
To make the most of my resources, my coop is right in the middle of the future orchard area, separating it into two.
This will enable me to let the chickens forage beneath the fruit trees on one side or the other.
I sketched out some ideas, changing the size and position many times before deciding on the coops final size and dimensions.
The coop is 4 meters (13ft) by 2.5 meters (8ft) and as tall as it ends up being.
This structure will have corrugated iron around the base on the inside, dug into the ground to prevent digging.
The corrugated iron itself will hold deep litter materials to a considerable depth.
The roosting and nesting section will be enclosed in a 1.5x2.5 meter (5x8ft) area of the structure. This will be mostly enclosed area, with plywood upper walls, and a half wall between roosting area and run, leaving a 1m (3ft) doorway from soil to roof.
In the run area, the walls will be hardware cloth above the corrugated iron. The wall on the Eastern side is solid to 2m, designed to block the wind and rain from the bad storms from blowing into the roosting area and getting the chickens wet and cold.
There will be pop doors and platforms on both eastern and western sides, framed into the mesh above the level of the corrugated iron. These pop doors will allow the chickens to go into the corresponding sides of the orchard, or kept closed to keep the chickens in their run.
The roof will be steel roofing, angled so the rainwater all runs to the end above the enclosed house, into a guttering and then to a rainwater collection barrel which will sit next to the coop.
The people door access into the enclosure will be on the western side, set above the corrugated iron siding. It is likely there will be a step outside the coop, and probably inside as well until there is a significant depth of composting litter.
The outside siding of the coop will be roofing steel around the base, to the same level as the inner corrugated iron.
The house section will be weather boarded with charred and oiled pine.
I'm still working out exactly how I want to be able to access the nesting boxes.
First I needed to clear the site.
There was an old, overgrown, mostly collapsed chicken coop occupying the space. The lawn in this area had been neglected for years.
I cleared most of the grass, debris and dismantled the majority of the old coop
With the help of my husband, we sunk 6 poles into the ground and cemented them in place. To this we attached rails and dug trenches below the rails to bury part of the corrugated iron siding.
...to be continued...