I moved to the city four years ago, after growing up in a small, rural town. I liked living close to work, but I hated the lack of "country" life. The place we had our horses had chickens, and I often mused about building a coop to freak out the neighbors in the city. Most of these people have likely never even seen a chicken! So I contacted the city, asked about urban chickens, and got the go-ahead.
Now, I have thyroid cancer, so between this or that doctor's appointment or copay, I needed to do this as cheaply as I could. Another defining factor - I hate waste! I didn't want to have to buy all the materials, so I thought about old dog boxes, an old Igloo doggie hutch, then I got to looking at rabbit hutches. So I was talking to our barn owner and asked if she knew anyone with an old rabbit hutch. Didn't have to be pretty, I could fix it up. Turns out, she had one! I took a look and decided it would be perfect for my future coop. The legs were a little rotted, so after I brought the poor, rusted-out, cob-web infested thing home, I cut the legs down to solid wood. To brace them further, once I had it in place, I took some leftover wood from another project and drilled together a box at ground level. I filled it with a mix of sand and diatomaceous earth - voila. Dust bath.
For the framework of the coop, I kept an eye out on Freecycle and Craigslist - someone had a deck project go bad, I got a number of 2x2's, more than enough to frame out the entire coop, for about $10. Some of them had a bit of curve to them, but hey, for the price, I didn't mind in the least. The wire and waterer/feeder were the only thing I ended up really "paying" for.
I tore out the old wire, I cut a hole in the bunny nest-box to access it from the outside. I widened the access inside for hennies to get in and added a partition to make two nest boxes.The flooring I changed to corrugated plastic and have it lined with nice, thick litter.
All framed in and working on the wire. Notice some of the 2x2's are a little curved, but such is life. They still work.
Everything in place! Two roosts to the right, the "coop" itself in its final spot (though still ugly!) The ramp was made from scraps.
Now to make it pretty! I took off the door, painted it the same color as the nearby shed, added trim, and stencilled a hennie. You know, just in case the neighbors needed help identifying what was in there. (Seriously, mid-build they asked me what it was all gonna be... I told them a guest-house.)
The egg door. Coop all painted tan and brown. Trim's not perfect, but it looks loads better than it had. Door gives access to both boxes, without me having to go in the coop. Brass hinges were reclaimed from the barn.
And the door is on! Nice little stencil there, this way I can open it up to clean out the nesting boxes if need be.
The right-hand door is usually open - unless I have a need to shut someone in or out, held open by a piece of velcro.
(Our little banty Parmesan is off there to the right)
The door shut - framed in dark brown paint, the rusty old wire brushed down and repainted cream.
I now have four lovely girls living in here, they roam my yard during the day (it's all fenced), then are closed in at night. My yard is much less bug-infested, my neighbors are always sneaking over to "talk" to the hennies, and I love love love the fresh eggs. Plus, the girls are all characters, so, BONUS! I have a grapevine on the other side of the shed that has grown over and wound into the wire - it leafs out in the early summer and the girls have lots of shade (and grapes). And more than once I've caught several of them in the dust bath, flinging sand and dust everywhere - it looks like they're sending up smoke signals. Another handy thing about this dust bath? If it gets hot, I can soak down the sand with water, and they dig down in it and sit for a little "air conditioning."
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