Our original coop and run was built on an existing fenced in 8' x 20' concrete slab, an old dog kennel. It was rather haphazard, built mostly from scavenged and scrap materials. The chained link is wrapped with galvanized sheet metal for the lower two feet, and then hardware cloth, and the roof has clear fiberglass panels. The coop inside is made from left over building materials, with the walls and roof made from SIPS panels. These are Structural Insulated Panels, a sandwich of two sheets of OSB with 7" of foam in between. I had them left over from building my studio, so they went together quickly to make the little building. I added a couple old windows and a door, and set it up on cinder blocks.
Click any photo to see a larger view.
We only had two hens, having lost others to raccoons (the run has since been heavily fortified) and other misfortune. We were planning on adding three more chooks. We wanted an additional area with a natural dirt floor for them to play on. We also felt that an addition could serve as a separate section for the young chicks, until they were ready to cohabit with the older girls, and as a possible future chicken hospital or chicken prison (in case anyone started feather pecking or otherwise misbehaving), and we wanted the new section to actually look good. Here's the finished product:
Preparation of the ground for an expansion to our coop and run. My friend Bob was staying with us for a month and he built our new secure run.
Home Depot had landscape timbers on sale for less than $2.00 each, so that gave the idea of a strong log cabin coop. A few weeks after we bought this load, and before we started using them, they had a sale price of $0.97 each, so I went back with my receipt and got a very nice credit for the difference.
The names of all our current and past chickens are inscribed in the concrete foundation.
I'm concerned that buried hardware cloth will rust through in a couple of years; chain link fencing was on sale, about $45 or a 4' x 50' roll, 11.5 gauge. The raccoons won't dig through this!
I had a lot of long pieces of old threaded rod, so Bob set them in the concrete foundation and the timbers are drilled out and mounted over those, with nuts and washers locking them in place. In addition, the timbers are glued down with construction adhesive. In this shot you can see the trench drain. The old run has a concrete floor, and we hose it down twice a year, so that drain will (I hope) prevent the new section from getting too muddy.
Since I had some leftover roofing felt, we wrapped the bottom two courses of landscape timbers for extra rot protection.
Hardware cloth was layered over the chain link, to form a strong barrier to burrowing predators.
It was taking shape...
The roof framing went up. I want something that will require minimal maintenance and will provide protection from predators for at least 10 to 15 years. I kept making design revisions as we went along, and as we found other free or inexpensive materials; in the process I think I drove Bob crazy. Then again, since he's one of my friends he must have been crazy to begin with.
Goldie and Mossy were very curious about all this activity, and they supervised it closely.
The roof received a layer of hardware cloth prior to being covered with transparent corrugated fiberglass panels.
I had some large cubicle/partition dividers with steel frames and Plexiglas windows, so we decided to use them. They'll admit a lot of light while forming very secure walls.
It's all framed out, the windows are going in. The plexi windows are on two sides, and a large opening will be covered with two layers of hardware cloth, inside and out, on the side next to the door. The soffits also have double layers of hardware cloth. Lots of good ventilation!
The new run is nearly ready!
I just needed a small coop to put inside the run, enough for three young chicks and later enough for just one chicken. (in case I ever need to isolate one in a chicken hospital or chicken prison). I had this wooden shipping crate, so I used it.
I cut in windows and a hinged door, to ensure lots of ventilation.
I had some old laminate flooring, just enough to line the inside, making it easier to clean. I built this little coop with scrap materials and things I had laying around; my total out of pocket for the coop was about $8.50.
We opened a temporary pass through so Mossy and Goldie could get a look at the new section. We'll block it off when we get new chicks, to get them acclimated.
Goldie and Mossy are checking it out, and discussing it in depth.
With everything ready, we put back the fence to divide the sections but to allow everyone to see and chat with each other. Then we picked out our three new chicks, a cockerel and two pullets. They are Columbian Wyandottes like Goldie and Mossy. They were about 4 to 5 weeks old. They came from Primrose Farm Park, the same farm where we got our others. Primrose Farm is part of the local park district, works with the live chick hatching exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and with local schools, so our birds were all either hatched in the museum or in a school. Therefore, they are smart, educated chickens!
After just a week, they were quite comfortable; they've really made the Fowlies Bregere their home.
Here they are on their ninth day, waking up and leaving the coop in the morning.
The little boy has his first meeting with Mossy.
The boy watching Mossy and Goldie. He seems pretty sure of himself!
After the first few weeks, we started opening the divider for an hour a day to get them used to being together. We kept doing this for about a month before permanently opening it up and removing this chain link divider.
Goldie wasn't so happy about the new intruders.
We then added a Pullet Shut door to the big coop so that I don't have to wake up so early each morning, or worry about them when we get home late.
At 12 weeks, the big little boy is starting to learn to crow.
The new addition is very nice, but the old section needed some sprucing up, so I added one of my sculptures, a rooster triptych.
A couple of wireless cams, and I can even watch them from my smartphone. Here's a screen capture from the phone, using IP-Cam software. The cameras are Foscams, and the desktop software is Blue Iris. Getting the wireless to work over the distance, and with interference from the fencing and hardware cloth, took a good bit of geek-tude, but it is a real treat to have this capability.
The little ones are growing fast, and they are quite happy with their new home.
Goldie and Mossy still rule the roost, but they have accepted their little cousins, and the two of them continue giving us 3-1/2 dozen eggs a month. Note the limestone water dish with a carved stone leaf in it, and their other limestone food dishes. I have fun decorating their home!
They get along pretty well until it comes to grasshoppers, then it's every bird for themselves.
Our five chooks love it when Mrs. Gargoyle comes to feed them.
The young Roo is now about 15 weeks old, and cock-a-doodling nicely. Everyone else has been named, but we haven't figured out his name yet- any suggestions are welcome!
We named our cockerel Terooha. A play on Teruah and Roo, Teruah is one of the sounds of the Shofar, the rams horn blown at the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. It means raise a shout, give a blast. Cock-a-doodle-do.
The little ones are now 8 months old, and Goldie and Mossy, at about 20 months, have been through their molt.
That's Mossy at the far left and Goldie in the back, compare them to the post above, where they are on top of the new little coop checking it out. They've really filled out beautifully.
Super Bowl Sunday, Terooha is crowing and enjoying his wide screen hi-def picture window, with Goldie hanging out below.
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