Ok, you got me, that is not exactly the story. Actually, I found a blogger here in central Ohio who kept talking about how much fun it was having chickens and the crazy antics she witnesses and I just had to have some. The other story is just what I tell to people who don't already love chickens...
I am a strong do it yourself kinda girl so before mentioning anything to my wonderful fiance I thought I would be proactive about this undertaking by doing everything myself. I got on line and started looking at coops and ways to build them cheap and easy. Of course I found BYC and all of the coops here and decided it would be fun to make a coop using old reclaimed wood and pallets. How hard could it be right?
The original drawing and idea:
At this point I decided to show my plans to my DF and to my surprise he was on board with the idea. He had raised chickens as a child with his parents, and had even used the barn we use for the calves now for meat chickens a few years before I came into his life. However, he said that I had no idea what I was in for... meaning that it was not going to be as easy as I thought it would.... Did I mention I was a strong independent woman? I knew I could handle this, no problem!
So, the first call I made was to my Dad... he seems to be the man that knows everything and he could help me find some materials to get going. As it turns out my Aunt was having her 100+ year old oak flooring removed and he was sure I could come and get it. An ad on Craigslist yielded a couple of windows, a few pallets, a bucket of nails, and some tin for a roof. A friend on face book even gave me a couple shipping crates, plus a couple extra sides to one that they used part of. Wow! That was easy! I was already developing a nice sized pile of material to make my coop. The work has begun! With such mild temperatures in Ohio this winter we were able to start at the beginning of February.
This seemed like a perfect time to order my chickens. The coop was coming along nicely and I was so excited! After spending many days trying to decide which chickens I wanted to order I decided on 2 -3 chicks of 9 different breeds!! That's right folks... chicken math had taken over my brain! A total of 23 chicks were ordered. We also decided why just do 12 cornish cross chicks, why not 20? After all, several family members were pleased to hear we would have fresh meat and eggs! Oh boy, it was quickly beginning to sink in that the coop we had well started was in no way going to be big enough! To avoid the question of what to do now we got to work on the meat chicken tractor, and the old wooden swing set was just begging to be torn down. Armed with a saw - zaw and a hammer I went to work knocking down and sawing apart the half rotten toy. After much finger pinching, many stripped screws, and tears I was finally able to complete something myself: the meat coop:
We also began work on the doors of the coop. We made a frame from 2 x 4's and used the oak flooring. It gave the doors a barn like look that I love. Unfortunately, we did not have enough of the flooring to do all 4 doors so the doors for the left side of the coop are made from another section of the shipping crate.
Jump ahead to the completed run... We used 2 x 6 framing to make the run. We also used some of the extra tin to make a covered area for the chickens outside the coop, as well as keep any rain and or snow and wind from going into the completely open side of the coop. Because we live on a hill, and the run is going up hill, the frame of the run is staggered to allow for the pitch of the hill. Since we added the cover we had to make the peaks match. Therefore this end of the run is a little shorter than the other, but I can still walk under it easily. I scored major big time and purchased several rolls of chicken wire and hardware cloth from a farm auction. Therefore for added protection we covered the whole roof in the chicken wire, as well as the sides. I will also be adding 1 x 2 welded wire around the sides to make them more predator proof. The pile of extras you see in this picture are materials to make the roof of the nesting boxes that will be added when the girls are bigger, as well as a roof for the outdoor feeder I will be building.
Back side of the run
View from under the run into the coop. You can't tell but the opening under the roof is enclosed with hardware cloth.
All in all I am pretty happy with the way my coop has turned out. While it is nothing like the original plan I love it even more. Of course the cost is quite a bot more than the free I had hoped for, but after getting some of my chickens I am very happy we went with a longer lasting, prettier coop. We spent about $500 on all of the materials that we had to buy which would have been much more without the great deals we found from auctions, friends, and family. I still have to finish the left side of the coop after all of the chicks have been brooded. This is where the nest boxes will be located (hanging on the outside of the coop with access from the inside) as well as another poop board and roost. The complete dimensions of the coop are 8 x 14 and the run is 14 x 12. Since the run is not as big as I would have liked ( darn property lines) I will allow the chickens to free range as much as possible. I plan to make a hoop coop next year to house our breeding buckeye stock which will free up some room for the other breeds.
We used the same concept for the top of the doors that are not used unless we are cleaning out the coop. Little coon fingers cannot pry open this door!
If I could make any changes I would first like to have known about chicken math before I started! It would have saved so much time and aggravation when building. Therefore, I would recommend ordering your chickens before you start on your coop, or at least making the coop 2 times the size you will need! Also, I would have moved the coop further up hill and had the run extend downhill. I am not sure how well the run will drain correctly so I might have to change the dirt floor to gravel or cement to make it work.
Other than that I love my coop and have had a great time working on it! A plan for the now build coop and run is pictured below. While I will not include dimensions because the ones we used were specific to our shipping crate and hill I am hoping that it will be enough of an outline to help someone else make their own coop! Enjoy!!
Please feel free to comment and let me know what I have done wrong or right, I still have work to do so anything that I can change and make better for the kiddos is welcome!