Easy enough name for a coop perched on a west facing hill. I started out with six hens about 4 years ago. Then jumped to nearly 20 in two years. Ameracauna, Buttercup, Black Australorpe, Speckled Sussex, Blue Andalusion, Leghorn, Delaware, Cochin, Buff Orpington, and Sex Link -- 2 of everyone. That's when the bigger coop construction began. This year I'm raising up a few French Maran and Welsummers in a separate coop, to round out my pallette of eggs. As good excuse as any to have a few more baby chicks around.
This coop started two years ago - and I'm still thinking of improvements...
Most of the building material came from a local shop with lots of pallets. The design developed by way of staying under 120 sq.ft. -- so as to avoid the building inspector -- and that it could be built in two sections. The first part is roughly 6X10 and about 6' to the collar ties - so I can stand up in there and clean it out easily. The windows and doors were found through Freecycle. Because it is on a west sloping hill -- when it rains - the sand in the run gets cleaned out. Also it has alot of windows to keep the coop bright and the girls happy. The trees give a good balance of shade in the summer and sun in the winter.
The four corners are 4x4 posts, with 2x4 studs between the pallets. The pallets added alot of strength to the wall construction, with beefed up headers over the windows. The top plates are new 2x4s and the ridge beam too - I think, as well as plywood for the roof and floor. But not much else is new. The second floor deck was set up - as a placemark for the addition - to be added the following spring.
Add rafters, roof, and tar paper the walls against drafts. This door frame became the link to the addition, but for that first winter it just got some insulation and plywood to cover it up.Then came my door - on some neat old hinges for 5$ at the flea market. I've got two border collies that are mostly underfoot - and keep a watch on the girls.
This is the west wall -- from the inside, just before I closed it up.
Their little chicken door is cut out of the south side pallet wall.
Here are my two speckled sussex trying out the roost and droppings pit. The pit takes about 5 minutes to shovel out once a week -- or just add a layer of shavings. Six nest boxes are tucked to the left of the door -- and the top three are always more popular than the bottom three.
Rooster on the door -- and the run almost finished, it is feeling like home for the girls. Because Legorno came into lay a good two weeks before everyone else -- and I had not finished the nest boxes, she got used to laying them in other - more interesting places. Next time -- I will make nest boxes first. The run is enclosed with chicken wire - with a sand floor - and a tarp over the top for winter cover. It measures about 15 x 12 ft. on the south side -- and behind the coop another 20 x 25 ft run, without netting on top.
The first winter went fine -- with everyone cozy. Even though there was no insulation on the north, south and east walls -- I did plastic up their windows - against drafts -- but only on the north side. They spent most days out in the yard scratching around in bags of leaves I'd collected through the fall. I did set up a wind block on the west side, the coop blocked the north winds, and unless it was below zero or too windy -- they were usually out and about.
Last summer I added the addition -- where the floor deck was set up from the begining. Tying the roof together - was about as complicated as I could deal with. The rest of raising walls and putting in windows was mostly fun -- including a victorian window also found at the flea market. I only wish I had figured out how
to make a cupola.
The second winter ... complete with Christmas lights - which I'm sure helped the girls lay through the winter...
Here are some new interior pics after the fall clean up :
The left pic is of the front part of the coop. I finally got around to putting those nest boxes in the wall for easy outside access. All the windows flip up and provide great cross ventilation. The right side pic is the back section -- equally popular.
Here's the portico I added for extra protection and more winter run room. This is the first year I haven't lost someone in January due to hawks - probably because they have good cover. I do throw a tarp up on the west and north wall of this area to block the wind. Then fill it with straw - add black oilers and scratch -- and they have a day job.
Here's the south side -- it get's nice and warm in the sun...
And last -- here's their back yard -- a great woodsy run that stretches down the hill --