Yes, baseball fans should have chickens!
The plan was to build a coop that looked like this:
Many of you will notice that this is a very similar design to that of the infamous Wichita Cabin Coop. I owe the owner of that coop many thanks for providing me the Google SketchUp plan. If anyone would like my slightly modified version, please contact me and I'll send it along. I really recommend playing with that software if you're serious about designing a chicken coop.
This is the spot in the yard where we decided to build our coop.
We decided to do most of the framing with pocket holes, as I saw somewhere here on BYC once and thought it was a great idea. It eliminates those weird decisions of where to screw 2 90 degree 2x4's together. With pocket holes you can take advantage of the strength of the wood on the vertical posts. The Kreg Jig seen below is fantastic for this and really saves time. It allows almost all of the construction to be done by 1 person.
We started with the bottom frame and just built it up from there.
(the dogs were, of course, absolutely no help!)
Here, most of the frame is up after only an hour or so.
Then the cross beams are done. Note how clean the joint is with pocket screws. Kreg makes this corner clamp that lets you position the joint at each end without using a screw. It's like having 4 arms.
All ready and primed. We live in the desert so UV protection is key.
The inside of the foundation has hardware cloth to keep out burrowers, it goes about 8 inches down.
The house part is about 2 feet off the ground. Eventually the chicks will have a nice shaded spot underneath to stay cool.
Meanwhile, the nesting boxes were assembled in the garage. Having a pneumatic staple gun really sped things along when using the thin plywood.
At about this time, we got our 6 babies at the local feed store. Two Orphingtons, two Rhode Island Reds, and two Black Sex Links. From now it would be a race between getting the coop done before they got too big in the garage and before it got too hot!
The house part was coming along nicely. There are ample windows for ventilation.
There is no window on the south side of the house, but the nesting boxes fit nicely there.
Getting bigger! Eating veggies and growing feathers.
We decided, as most of you have, to use hardware cloth for strength and longevity. While a bit expensive, it's ultimately worth it.
However, for the roof part, chicken wire is sufficient, as it's over 7 feet tall.
There is a galvanized roof just over the house, not the run.
The house almost complete, with door and paint job.
A stolen idea from BYC members for the house door being controllable from the outside with a rope.
One thing I had not seen here on BYC was this idea for roosting bars. I didn't really want to make permanent bars or have to screw into the walls any more than necessary. So we hung these mulberry branches from the ceiling. A swing set! Then the chickens could in principle perch by the windows and look out at the world. It turns out they don't like the instability of the swings, and we'll have to come up with something else.
With the coop sufficiently ready, it was move-in day! We kept them just in the house for about a week while we finished the run.
They certainly like the nipples and were trained from babies to use them.
The door for the chicken run.
The ramp to come into the run from the house.
Ragz waiting for them to come out and play.
We decided to have the waterer outside the coop for easy refilling. This is really a good thing to do. With some drip line and PVC and nipples, it is pretty easy to set up.
The chickens are right above their heads!
The (mostly) finished coop! It compares reasonably well to the initial plans, as we tried to stay faithful to the initial measurements.
Ok, time to open the door and see if they come out. A little aphid-laced enticement awaits them.
Here they come!
They are feeling at home and growing quickly and composting a lot of yard waste.
Again to avoid "permanent" roosts, we used some rebar and more mulberry to make some space-saving ones.
A happy family of animals .... until .....
unexpected sadness. Note that the coop below is not the one from above, yet those are our chickens. Well, some "neighbor" called animal control to report we were keeping chickens. As this is against code in our city limits, we had to move them. We knew the risks going into the whole project, but 2 weeks!!! Indeed, the "neighbor" didn't file a complaint. He/she only called to point this out. Of course, the consequences are the same. I put neighbor in quotes because a true neighbor would have talked to us first and hopefully we could have come to an understanding. In the meantime, they are in another coop with the help of some generous friends. This coop is in a quite isolated field though so the chickens will not get the type of human interaction they've been enjoying. Very sad to move them, although at least they are safe.
The plan is to try to identify said neighbor and talk this out. Then I'd have no problems retrieving the chickens if no threat of a call back to animal control is expected. After all that work it's frustrating to have only had them for 2 weeks outside and of course they haven't laid yet.
But it was very fun raising the babies from 2 days old and building this coop. We think it looks very nice in our yard and hope to use it for years to come. Below is a cost estimate for this particular coop in case anyone would like to try something similar. It's definitely a very fun project!